I was on the road home with my (then) two little kids when the car started acting up, making noises and bucking. This was in the days long before cell phones. I was afraid of being stranded on the highway, with no money to pay for a tow and repairs. I knew my husband wasn’t home, but I wasn’t far from a good friend’s farmhouse, and maybe her mechanically-inclined husband was home. They lived on a country dirt road, and the turn-off was just ahead, so I took it.
Although I tried avoiding the ruts, the ride was bumpier than it should have been, the car misfiring and misbehaving. I was still a distance away from my friend’s house, but I could see her neighbor’s place. The man who lived there was working in his yard, and looked up at the clamor my car was making. The car shuddered as it clanked with malice, and I turned into the neighbor’s driveway just as the car died.
The man came over and opened my hood. His wife recognized me as her neighbor’s friend (I had met her before), and she offered me a glass of iced tea. We sat in the yard and chatted about kids and crafts as her kids and mine played together and her husband tinkered away on my engine. The knot in my chest from worry about my car loosened.
After about an hour, the man had my car engine running smoothly. I can’t remember what he said was wrong with it. He asked me if I could pay him $20 for the repair. I tittered nervously. We were just getting by. I didn’t know when I’d ever be able to pay him. He didn’t press.
I don’t remember the first names of the couple, but their last name was Vogt. If by some chance they should happen to read this little story, I would want them to know that I may have forgotten their names, but I’ve never forgotten their kindness to me that day, almost forty years ago.