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Folks said it was bound to happen, and one day, folks were right. Driving down five lanes in Bentonville, Blue Belle stopped in her tracks. I pumped the gas pedal and turned the key. She sputtered and tried to get up, then finally sighed and laid there like an old hunting dog after a day spent running squirrels.

It was early afternoon and traffic was heavy. Cars whipped by me to get to places more important. As I alternated between praying and cussing, I noticed I was stalled before an automobile repair shop.

"Guess if you're set on sitting," I tapped the dash, "you set on a good spot."

I got out of the truck to better assess the situation, which primarily entailed not getting Froggered while I flagged down some men at the auto shop.

I remembered a time awhile back when I had car trouble in my rural hometown, and how -- in a matter of seconds -- one family after another stopped to help me. Strangers clad in overalls and shirts with their names embroidered on them pushed my vehicle off the street. They were headed places, had kids to pick up and ice cream melting in the car, but there they were, looking under the hood, talking of mutual acquaintances and waiting till help arrived.

Here I sat in a river of suits and ties, nary a one to stop. I wondered how often I'd been guilty of not letting my day be interrupted by the needs of others.

I finally raised the brow of a fella at the repair shop, and we got Blue Belle off the road. Being a novice grease monkey, I lifted the hood, tinkered with some wires and promptly fell out of the mechanic's shade tree to call my friend, Alan.

Alan is my very own "Click and Clack." He amazes me with his ability to accurately diagnose a mechanical issue hundreds of miles away with nothing more than his vast knowledge and my poorly mimicked sound effects. He has telephonically diagnosed a too-tight air filter nut, a pinched accelerator line, a faulty fuel filter and a bad case of indigestion.

Meanwhile, a young man knelt on one knee behind the back tire and told me to turn the key. He said he wanted to hear if the fuel pump kicked on. I wanted to say I didn't think the fuel pump was back there, but I wasn't confident enough to go correcting the only help I had.

An older man came out and looked under the hood, then leaned to one side and peered over his eyeglasses at the young man proposing to my rear tire.

"Son," the elder cleared his throat, "fuel pump's under the hood."

"Don't get many old trucks in here, eh?" I asked.

"Nah. All computers nowadays. You got air, fuel and fire in these oldies, you're a'drivin'."

In no time, we were back on the road. I smiled and patted Blue Belle. Guess sometimes an old gal just needs to know she can still stop traffic.

NAN Our Town on 06/28/2018

Print Headline: Strangers go extra mile

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