Slice of Life Challenge day 4 #sol18

A small moment story about the kindness of a stranger…



A Little Kindness from a Stranger

Check engine light.  Something most of us abhor.  But they do a job, right?  An important job. They inform us when something is awry within a vital material possession: our vehicle.  In my youth, no such technology existed.  In fact, it’s difficult to imagine where a check engine light would  even have been situated in a 1967 Volkswagen Bug.  But modern cars are able to let us know when something is wrong, even when we can’t detect what that something is ourselves.

As the snow began to overtake the rain, I jammed my 2009 Honda Pilot into park.  Wind whipped into my face as I made the reluctant mini-trek into the repair shop, umbrella in hand.  If tamping down anxiety were a skill I could monetize, I’d be on the cover of Fortune Magazine.  But that’s unfortunately the chief effect a future car repair produces in me.

“Can I help you?” came the voice from the buoyant, greasy kid behind the counter.  Approaching him, I provided my information and he located me in the appointment system.  “Okay, we’ll give you a call once we figure out what’s going on with your vehicle,” he assured me.  I thanked him and headed toward the exit.  “Wait a minute, you walking?” he asked.  I responded affirmatively, briefly explaining that I did not live far.  Maybe 15 minutes.  “You wanna ride?” he offered.  I paused. Glancing through the shop windows, I could see today’s Nor’Easter generously sharing plenty of wind and precipitation.  This would be no easy walk, but I had come prepared with my… well, my umbrella.

“I could drive him home.”

To my right, I turned to see from whence this voice originated.  Sitting calmly in a waiting room chair sat a woman.  Adorned in a sand-colored camel hair coat, tightly coiffed blonde hair, the woman was perhaps sixty years old or so.

I had never seen her in my life.

Our eyes met.  “Well, unless you’re an axe murderer?” she quipped, cracking a polite smile.  Chuckling and returning the smile, I explained that no, I was actually a teacher.  Not much of a risk.  “Come on,” she motioned as she stood up, “I’ll drive you.”

Apparently I had not tripped the woman’s check engine light.  Nothing awry here.  And grateful I was for this unexpected kindness from a stranger.


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

7 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 4 #sol18”

  1. I love the way the check engine light becomes a metaphor at the end of the piece. I’ll also be thinking about that–how often do we trip each other’s check engine lights. This is one of those perfect slices–a tiny moment that becomes so much larger and resonant in the writing of it.


  2. >Apparently I had not tripped the woman’s check engine light. Nothing awry here. And grateful I was for this unexpected kindness from a stranger.<

    I love the SOL Challenge for this very reason, the good that we miss because of all the stuff that goes on in our lives! Thank you for taking the time to write this and adding a little slice of humanity into a world desperate for more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In this day and age, we are all so leery of reaching out to strangers. Glad that this stranger was available to take you home. Hoping that it was an easy fix for your car.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how your claim of being a teacher by profession put you in the self-assessed low to no-risk category! Your slice caught my eye because today, I wrote about kindness through the lens of a children’s message at church. The woman in the auto body shop lifted you up and restored some faith in humanity, keeping you dry in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

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