Some have asked me to print a story that Brent Daley, one of my buddies at our drop in, has written. Here it is, with only moderate editing. Anybody need a ghost writer?
It was the spring of 1995 when I moved back home from Calgary. I was tired after spending 15 years as a mechanical engineering technologist at the University of Calgary, but if the truth be known I was burned out.
The normal three day drive would double because of the shape I was (wasn’t) in both physically and mentally. My aging Honda Civic was packed full and the utility trailer I was hauling had more than double it’s capacity. I had everything I owned with me.
An early May morning on the north shore of Lake Superior showed God’s handiwork: deep blue sky, blue lake, paper white beaches, trees in bloom – it was a picture postcard. Highway good, no traffic, my gas tank was ¾ full with 30 miles from the last town and 20 to the next. That is when the trouble began.
My body tensed when I heard the loud crunch and grind behind me, and I was surprised to see my right hand trailer wheel come off, pass me, jump the gravel ditch and come to rest on the tree line. Of course I immediately pulled over into the gravel and stopped. I went for a walk to retrieve the tire as I had no spare and took it back to the car. Upon further inspection I discovered that the complete wheel had pulled off the trailer, right over the wheel nuts. The bolt holes on the wheel had become enlarged to accomplish this. What to do?
I sat on the trunk of the car to ponder my predicament. While I was having a smoke and a think, a car came along in the opposite direction. His brakes lights indicated he was stopping, and a quick U-turn confirmed his intention. I was alone with a considerable amount of cash with me so I was a little leery of the situation. I noticed that there was a man driving and a woman in the passenger seat knitting. I felt a little more at ease. The man got out of his car and approached me asking what the problem was. I explained to him about the wheel and how it had come off. He asked me if I had tools, a jack for the trailer and some washers in the tool box which I assured him I did. He said “Come on and I will give you a hand to fix the problem.”
He and his wife had been vacationing in Toronto, now on route home to Thunder Bay. He was a motor mechanic and his wife was a registered nurse. Within 20 minutes he had the wheel back on the trailer, using the washers to have the nuts hold the wheel in place. He made the wheel spin true and jacked the trailer down. Ready to go. I put the tools and jack back in my trunk and went to shake his hand.
“What do I owe you for your time and help?” I asked.
“Well, let me tell you. Last night I hit a patch of water on the highway near Barrie. I lost control of the car and it jumped the ditch. Both front tires were blown on impact. A farmer came along and pulled me out of the ditch, went and got his pickup truck and took me into Barrie to purchase new tires. When we returned to the car the farmer helped me install the new wheels and I asked him that same question you just asked me.”
“He told me that I owed him nothing, but that if I was given the opportunity I should do a similar kindness for someone else. I have now done that and what you owe me is to pass it along”.
I have often thought of that mechanic and the help he gave me out in the middle of the northern Ontario wilderness that fine morning in May. I have had opportunity to pass along the favor many times. It has always struck me that if everyone in the world treated each other the way he treated me this would be a much better place to live.
Brent Daley, July, 2010