On March 19, 1994, I experienced firsthand how one random act of kindness could touch my heart, ease my fears and leave me with a renewed faith in mankind. I was living in Billings, Montana and was moving back home to Kennewick, Washington with my six month old daughter. It was a 670 mile journey. I drove a little blue Ford Festiva and had it packed to the point where I didn’t think anything else could fit in it. It was a beautiful sunny morning when we left on our journey. I was feeling pretty good by the time we reached Bozeman, Montana, about 150 miles into our trip.
The radio was playing perfect sing along music, the sun was still shining, and my baby girl was fast asleep. We weren’t long outside Bozeman when the weather drastically changed. It was snowing so hard that I could barely see the road ahead of me. I turned the radio down so I could concentrate on the road. When I looked up I saw the most horrific car accident I had ever seen. A semi truck was turned sideways on the highway and a car had slid underneath it, completely ripping the top off the car. I could only assume that the passengers of the car were dead. There were police lights flashing all around, but it was exceptionally quiet.
I pulled the car over to catch my breath. After taking a few moments to collect myself, I continued on my way. The storm didn’t seem to want to let up. I was determined more than ever after seeing the accident to just keep going and get out of the storm. I was almost to Butte, Montana when my gas light came on informing me that I needed more gas. I never saw a sign for a gas station. I don’t know if a sign wasn’t visible due to the snow storm or if I was just too focused on the road ahead of me. It seemed like I had been driving on empty for an hour or so when I finally saw an exit.
I turned my blinker on and started up the off ramp. The car started to sputter and then just died. I had never been so scared in my life. I was stuck in a car, in a snow storm, with a six month old baby girl. I thought about getting her and I out of the car and walking about a mile and a half to the gas station, but I decided against it since it was so cold and such a long ways. I knew all I could do was turn my hazard lights on and wait for help. We didn’t have to wait long. It was about 10 minutes later when a semi truck pulled up right behind me.
A man got out of the truck and approached my driver’s side window. I rolled my window down and explained my dilemma to the man. He told me to stay put and not to worry. That wonderful stranger went back to his truck, grabbed a gas can, walked the mile and a half in the storm to the gas station, came back, and poured gas into my tank. I remember asking him his name. He said Bill. I asked him how I could repay him. He said that there was no need to, that he had a daughter about my age and would hope that someone would help her in a time of need just as he was helping me.
Bill somehow found room in my little car for that gas can. He told me to drive to the gas station, fill up my car and the can, and drive safe the rest of the way. As I drove away my eyes filled with tears as I thought about what that stranger had done for me. I felt guilty for knowing myself well enough to know that his act of kindness was one that I could never see myself doing for another. To this day, I feel a bit safer knowing there are people like Bill in the world, spreading their kindness and selflessness that will forever be imprinted in my heart with utmost appreciation and assurance in mankind.