Since Steve didn’t go with me to the MRI yesterday (I told him I would be fine on my own) he made sure he added some power steering fluid to the car before I left because it had been leaking a little.
After the MRI was over, I took my little traumatized self out the door and drove away from the clinic. Here is my “not-so-happy place.”
As I pulled away from the MRI clinic, I noticed that the power steering was feeling a bit stiff and I had to work really hard to turn corners. However, since I knew that Steve had already topped it off, I didn’t get too worried.
At least I didn’t get worried for another minute or two. And then the steering just seemed to get worse and worse, until I could barely even manage to haul the car around a corner without great exertion and accompanying (ladylike) grunts.
Since I had to stop anyway to put in some gas, I thought I’d just call Steve at the same time to get mechanical instructions. As I began pumping the gas, I happened to notice an African American gentleman outside the station—just standing there. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry, didn’t seem like he had to be anywhere. Just standing.
He stood out to me because of his easy, relaxed demeanor and also because he was wearing a beautiful suit with a peach silk shirt underneath. Peach is one of my favorite colors to wear and I remember thinking, “What a cool ensemble!”
But my “appreciating peach” moment passed quickly and I was soon back to the nitty gritty business of life, which was trying to figure out what to do about the car.
I wrestled the vehicle away from the pump, and pulled over to the opposite side of the station (completely out of view of the peach guy), barely managing to steer around another car and get pulled into a parking space.
I pulled out my cell phone and explained to Steve what was going on; he was quite surprised to hear about the problem since he had just filled up the power steering tank. He said he hoped it wasn’t the steering wheel pump that had gone out, in which case adding fluid wouldn’t help.
So he started giving me directions about how to check the fluid. Which was about as productive as teaching a duck-billed platypus how to do calculus.
But I tried.
I managed to open the trunk AND the hood (his car has all sorts of different “opening levers” I’m not familiar with) and I managed to find the power steering fluid and the little reservoir that it was supposed to go into.
After setting down the phone for a moment and wrestling with the lid I finally told Steve, “Okay, the lid is off. Now what?”
He said, “Can you see on the little dipstick that hangs down from the lid what the level of the fluid is?”
I peered at the dipstick suspiciously. Nope. I had no clue what he was talking about. I couldn’t tell where any fluid level stopped or started; it just all looked the same to me.
He then gave me the cheerful news that there was an “optimal level” the fluid should be at, and adding fluid when it wasn’t needed was not going to help matters any.
He had me go back to the trunk, get a cloth and wipe the dipstick off. Then he told me to put it all the way back in, tighten the lid, and then unscrew it and check it again.
By this time, my arm was aching from where the IV had been, my head was aching from tears and stress and all I could think about was that I was stuck 2 1/2 hours from home and we were going to have to call a wrecker and we couldn’t afford to call a wrecker and I was never going to get home and I. Was. So. Overwhelmed.
I took a deep, calming breath and tried to remove the cap once more so that I could attempt to get an accurate reading. Well, it turns out that when I had put the cap back on, I had threaded it wrong and now it was on there crooked and was now impossible for someone of my non-strong ability to even budge.
I thought, “Great. I can’t re-check the fluid level and now I can’t add any fluid and I can’t drive the car the way it is and I just don’t know what I’m going to do!”
About that time I heard a melodious voice next to me and I looked up to see the Man in Peach approaching the car. How he ever saw me on the opposite side of the station with the hood facing away I’ll never know, but he did.
He said, “Hello, ma’am. It looks like you might need some help.”
I resisted the urge to fling my arms around him in a most appreciative gesture of gratitude but instead I babbled, “Well, I have my husband on the phone and he said to take the lid off and check the fluid but I can’t get the lid off and so I can’t tell how much fluid I have and the car won’t steer right and I don’t know what I’m going to do!”
He approached the car with great confidence and all I could think was, “Listen, fella, you really don’t want to be working on a dirty engine wearing peach silk, do you?”
That fact didn’t seem to bother him.
With one easy motion, he got the lid off that I had been fighting with for five minutes. He peered with a practiced eye down into the mysterious depths of the liquid and said, “Oh no, ma’am. There’s not enough fluid in there.” And then he took his fingers and splashed them around in the fluid in order to confirm his initial diagnosis.
All I could think of was, “Peach shirt! Peach shirt! You’re going to get stuff all over your peach shirt!”
He was oblivious to my concern for his fashion well being and simply reached over, grabbed the power steering fluid and very confidently added the right amount before replacing the lid, closing the hood and closing the trunk. He then suggested that I get in the car, back up a little bit and try to get up a little speed before turning the wheel. He said that would be the best indication of how things were.
And so off I went. At first the steering still felt pretty stiff but then I felt it loosen up a little bit and figured I’d be okay to drive the car home.
When I pulled up near him to thank him for his help, he said an unusual thing. He put both hands together like he was praying, leaned forward slightly at the waist, fixed me with compassionate and wise eyes and said, “I have only prayers for you.”
As I drove off, I pondered our meeting. Out of all the people in the city of Greenville who could have been at that particular station, there was one there who seemed to be almost waiting for something to happen. And when that something happened, he was right on the spot, with practical help and with a promise of prayer.
Although I’m not saying he was an Angel, I am saying that for me at least, he was someone God put there at the right time, someone who was there for me when I was tired and frustrated and overwhelmed.
And the fact that he was wearing peach? It just made it all the better.