De-stressing a search for antifreeze
In a new city for grad school, the first lessons were about trust
I am currently a graduate student at the University of Houston. After a week of classes, I went shopping at my favorite store because they were having a sale for Labor Day weekend. Then after stopping for dinner, I got in my car and just as I was going to leave, a bike convoy went by. I sat in my car for at least 15 minutes, but the bikers were still coming.
As I was backing up, an African American man knocked on my window. I parked and asked him what the problem was. He noticed that we each had the same brand of car. It wasn’t the same year or even the same model, but he equated the brand. He had just purchased his used car and his engine light was on; he needed help.
I know very little about cars, but I decided to help him. I looked up online how to fix overheating engines, and we concluded that he needed some antifreeze. Since he couldn’t drive his car, he asked me to drive him to a local auto parts store.
Being the cautious student that I am and living far from home, I naturally became worried about my safety; plus, the university is in a shoddier part of the city.
Then I remembered a story of a friend of mine who worked with a Focolare member at a Catholic high school. A Middle Eastern man had come up to the school and while others said he might be dangerous, this focolarina said to let him in and helped him.
Seeing how my friend was moved by this show of compassion left an impact on me. With that in mind I let the man into my car — after checking to see if he had a weapon.
We went to one auto parts store, but they had just closed, even though their online hours said they were open.
We then had to go to the opposite direction for a couple of miles. In the car we discussed basic aspects of our life and how I was a student. Fortunately, the next store was open. We poured the antifreeze in his car and it seemed to do the trick. He insisted on giving me $10 for my trouble.
I did not want any payment, as I felt I didn’t do anything special. All I tried to do was love this man and be a calm presence. This may seem small, but with his attitude and how he was stressed out, it really meant quite a bit to me.
It showed me you never know when Jesus will ask you for help and to love him and your neighbors in any capacity.
— Michael Cali, Texas
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