76: Angel on the Highway

76: Angel on the Highway

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Angel on the Highway

People see God every day, they just don’t recognize him.

~Pearl Bailey

One of my favorite TV shows was Touched by an Angel. Stories about angel encounters always fascinated me, but I never knew if they were real until I had an encounter of my own.

It was a beautiful spring day and crowds gathered along the highway parks, setting up their picnics to celebrate Memorial Day. I drove up to Connecticut for what was to be a quiet family gathering. But in the mid-afternoon the skies opened up, and rain hindered traffic all along I-95. It was dreary, dark and chilly. Traffic was bumper to bumper. At times the rain was so heavy, you couldn’t even see one car length ahead.

This was going to be an interesting ride home. Then about twenty minutes into my drive, my car started stalling and making funny noises. It eventually stopped. I managed to pull over to the side of the road, turn on the hazard lights and get out of the way of traffic before the car quit on me.

I got out of the car and into the rain, attempting to flag someone down for help. This was over twenty years ago and before we all had cell phones. A driver stopped to let me know he would stop at the next exit to call for help. About fifteen minutes later, another car stopped and promised the same. Nobody wanted to get out of their car in that torrential downpour. Meanwhile, I was standing on the side of the road, on a major highway, in the rain, wearing my white pants because it was Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, and I could finally wear white pants again.

An hour went by and I still waited for help. There were no phone booths along the highway, so I couldn’t call anyone, not even AAA. I was at the mercy of a Good Samaritan who might stop and call for help.

So what was a girl to do on a Monday night, in a broken down car on the highway, no way to call anyone, and no help? I got back in my car and prayed for a miracle. I hoped someone might have called for help. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a tow truck pulling up behind me.

As I got out of my car, a man in his late thirties got out of the truck and approached me. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’ve been waiting for help for about an hour, in my broken-down car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, in the rain. Other than that everything’s great!”

The man said he worked for his father’s towing company. His name was Tom. He had just come from dropping off a vehicle in Boston and was on his back to Maryland.

“I’ll be happy to help you,” he said. “I can just imagine what it’s like to be stranded here on the side of the road. If my wife’s car had broken down I would hope somebody would help her.”

I told him that towing my car home would probably add two to three hours to his trip. He didn’t mind. I asked him how much he would charge me. “How about $50 to help with gas expenses?” he said.

His generosity and kindness overwhelmed me. For some reason I trusted him. So we went ahead and he put my vehicle on his tow truck. Just as he finished tying down my vehicle, another tow truck came and parked behind Tom’s tow truck. A guy stepped out of the truck and approached us.

“We got a call that someone had broken down on the highway,” the guy said. “Going to have to let the vehicle down, it’s our highway.”

Before I knew it, a third tow truck pulled up and parked right in front of Tom’s tow truck locking us in between. As I stood there watching the guys from the towing company argue with the Good Samaritan, the police showed up.

The officer called me over to explain that my Good Samaritan was not allowed to tow my vehicle on I-95 because the towing company had an exclusive contract on the highway. Exclusive contract? Really? The officer was concerned about a stranger driving me all the way back to Long Island, so he ran a check on him, just to be safe.

Then we went through the process of taking my vehicle off Tom’s truck and putting it on the official tow truck. The Good Samaritan and I followed them less than half a mile off the highway, where they literally dumped my vehicle at the end of the off-ramp, right under the bridge. They billed AAA $42.

By then, I was miserable. Soaking wet, I sat in the truck with the guy from Maryland who was still willing to drive me all the way home. We went through the whole process of putting my vehicle back on his truck, and finally headed to Long Island.

As we drove to my house, he showed me pictures of his wife and kids. He told me that he normally didn’t take vehicles out of state, but his trip to Boston was a special request from his father. I was so grateful!

After four long hours, we got to my house. It was still raining and gloomy, and my Good Samaritan had a long trip back to Maryland. I gave him the $50 he’d asked for. He used the restroom, gave me his business card, got back in the truck and left.

The next day I bought a really nice thank you card. I copied the address from the business card onto the envelope and dropped it in the mail. About three weeks later, the card came back, stamped all over with “no such address.” I double-checked the business card; it clearly stated Tom’s Towing Company and the address that I had written on the envelope. When I called, I never reached anyone.

Some might say that it was a weird coincidence, that maybe the post office made a mistake. But I know for a fact that on the side of that blue tow truck it said Tom’s Towing Company with an address in Maryland. Whether Good Samaritan or angel, I know on that day twenty years ago, I experienced a miracle. My prayers were answered by a greater power. Without a doubt, someone out there was watching over me!

~Dr. Karen Jacobson

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