Here’s the tale I promised last night.

It’s quite long and involved but I can assure you it’s true. I work with the person this happened to and it took place two days ago, on August 16, 2007.

My co-worker and her pregnant daughter had gone shopping for baby items after leaving the daughter’s car at the hospital. They were at a popular baby paraphernalia store when the daughter was approached by a man who told her his wife had been alarmed when she saw sparks coming out from under the hood of the car when they (my co-worker and her daughter) pulled into the parking lot. Since the car belonged to my CW, she came over and became part of the conversation. He and my CW went out to the car. He opened the hood and had my CW start the car. He started waving his arms and shouting, “Shut it down! Shut it down!”

She turned the engine off, got out, and went over where the man was examining the innards. He said, “Did you see the sparks?” She said no but she was in the car. “See this sensor? It’s burned out.” She assured him she knew nothing about cars beyond starting one and driving it. He said, “See that black spot on the sensor?” She said no, but she guessed he could see something she couldn’t. It was dark in the depths of the engine. As I remember, she was going to call her husband on her cell phone but he said not to bother. He would get the part and put it on. It was boiling hot, showing 100 degrees on a sign close by, and it was hotter with all the pavement bouncing the sun’s rays around. She had her cell phone but he remembered he had his phone in his pocket. “These phones are so small, I forget I have it with me.” He mentioned his wife was in the cell phone store getting herself one like it.

He called information and got the number for the auto parts store on the same street that went by the baby stuff store. He told the parts person what the problem was, gave the car make, model, and year, and made sure they had the sensor in stock. It would be $42.91. My CW told him she didn’t have any cash with her but he said that was okay. He’d pay for it and she could write him a check when he got back. She was impressed with his willingness to go to so much trouble for a lady in distress. (Are there really Good Samaritans in the world?)

He took off, saying he would be back shortly. Indicating a sign that was close enough to see the colors, he said it wasn’t far away. He left and my CW went back in the store to see what her daughter had found. She didn’t think much about it when a few minutes stretched into half an hour.

The man came back, said he’d dropped his wife off by Wal*Mart on the way to the parts store. When he got there, he was put off by the fact that they only had “cheap Japanese parts” so he’d gone on to another place where they had a better quality. The receipt showed how much it was. He opened the hood again (he’d closed it to keep thieves from stealing whatever they could get their hands on) and went to work. At one point, he sent my CW’s daughter into the store for some tape. Completing the repair, he closed the hood, had my CW start the car, and said, “Now, doesn’t that sound much smoother?” She said she couldn’t tell any difference but she hadn’t been able to see there was a problem before.

The part ended up being several dollars more than the cheaper one. She felt bad that he had been out in that heat working on her car so she gave him a check for $100, thinking he had probably saved her a lot more than that. She thanked him and was impressed all over again that he would help some strangers out that way.

She and her daughter went on with their shopping and stopped a couple more places before heading back to the hospital, secure in the fact that the car was in good running order.

They got to the hospital, her daughter got into her car and they headed home. I guess the daughter lives close to her mother because she was following. My CW topped a hill and there was a pack of dogs in the middle of the road. She didn’t have any choice but to plow into them, running over two. After all the stress of the day, she didn’t stop. She said she couldn’t have handled seeing dead or injured dogs. I don’t remember if it was an oncoming car or her daughter’s that hit the other two.

She got home and was going over the events of the day with her husband. He went out to the car, opened the hood, and looked in. He asked what had been replaced. She pointed to the part and he picked it up and said, “You mean this?” She said yes. It wasn’t hooked up to anything. The wires were bent around the wires underneath them and the tape had been to hold it in place. The heat of the engine had melted the tape. For a wonder, it had sat where he’d put it through the collision with the dogs.

The part has something to do with the blinkers and isn’t a sensor at all. The name she had made the check out to belonged to someone who lives out of the area. There is no auto parts store in that part of town. The sign probably belonged to a StarBucks. There is no auto parts store named whatever was on the receipt. When she tried to call the number on the receipt, it was for something totally unrelated.

She was at the bank when it opened the next morning. She stopped payment on the check and is closing her account. The police have been notified and she is to meet an officer halfway to complete the report. She’s been advised to contact all the television stations in the region to let them know what happened to her.

She was understandably upset that he approached her daughter. The only thing she could think is that he might be preying on pregnant women. With nuts out there who kidnap them and take their babies, I’m sure her concern is valid.

So…if a “Good Samaritan” tries to fix your car when it ain’t broke, don’t fall for it. Plan what you will say. I’ll tell them I have road service through my insurance and I’ll call them if there’s a problem. Or I could say I’ll call my son. Stay in a safe place until you can get to your car and leave. My CW was fortunate. Someone else might not be.

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