Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Stalling in the Dip

Angela and I are heading to an evening function Tuesday in the Memorial area. There is a car stalled in the right lane of Voss, hazards on, middle of rush hour traffic, lady sitting there waiting for her husband, whom she has called on her cell phone. Angela pulls over, I jump out, push the lady’s car around the corner to a safe shoulder, wish her well, hop back in our car and we’re on our way. Whole thing takes 2 minutes. She is grateful. I feel good for being helpful. Great exercise too --pushing a car elevates the heart rate nicely. Hold that thought.

Thirteen hours later I’m heading to a morning appointment on Westheimer and Gessner. My car dies on me. In the middle of the I-10 underpass on Highway 6. Picture it, friends. I challenge you to find a better place to stall your car. Did I mention it was 7:30 A.M. on a weekday? I can’t push the car alone because it’s in the middle of the underpass dip. I call over the Houston Chronicle guy hawking papers on the corner and ask him to push while I steer. Houston Chronicle guy isn’t what you’d call “athletic” and we can’t get the car up the incline. He looks like he’s about to cough up a lung. Picturing a fatality, EMT vehicles, lawsuits, Chronicle editorials, I thank him and wave him off. Then I stand there with my hazards on, my best “I need help” look on my face, and watch 6,387 drivers stare at me distractedly and switch lanes as they roar past. And that’s just in the first two minutes. I begin to regret not carrying a concealed hand-gun and “un-concealing it,” if you know what I mean. I am confident I could shoot someone’s tires out with Christian kindness. Finally two guys, separately, park in a strip center, run over and help me push the car to a parking lot. Thanks guys. God bless you.

Friends, will you pledge not to be one of the 6,387? I can understand (not really, but I’m being polite) people rushing to work and not stopping to help, but the dagger looks I received?! It was almost comical (not really, but I’m being polite).

While I wait for the AAA tow truck in front of the “Coffee Guy” store, I say to the Lord, with apologies to Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, “Look, here is coffee! What is to prevent me from celebrating this mishap with a cup of strong java?” So as I sip my coffee on a beautiful spring morning, having cancelled my appointment and suddenly with welcome free time and still waiting for the AAA guy, I strike up a conversation with two motorcyclists who, as it turns out, are avid members of the Christian Motorcyclist Association ( They give me a brochure, tell me about the annual “Ride for the Son” that raises money for foreign and domestic mission efforts, and head off into the sunrise. Thanks guys. God bless you.

As I drive the loaner car to the office I try to thoughtfully assess what seems to me to be a clear call from God to get a motorcycle. Is there any other lesson to be learned from this? We’ll see. I hope Houston Chronicle guy is breathing better too. – Matt Soper (April 17, 2005).


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