Cook: A reminder that we all can help someone

  • Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 12:01 a.m.

The woman was frantic. A bad year had hit bottom.

She wrecked her car in April and three days later found a knot in her breast. As she went through cancer treatment, she lost her third-shift job. She and her husband separated.

Still, she tried to make life as normal as possible for her daughters, ages 8 and almost-12, to keep their minds off the cancer and other troubles. She worked hard to maintain their usual activities.

Then came the November day when her “back up” vehicle, a 1996 pickup, broke down on the interstate. She was taking her daughter to dance class.

They got a ride home, but now she was really stuck — without a working vehicle to even get to the doctor’s office, and unable to pay to have it fixed. She was about to give up. But she made a phone call the next morning that restored her hope.

She called a car dealership.
Yes, a car dealership.

Names are being withheld to protect the generous, but it’s a good story — a demonstration of how a little bit of giving can have a big impact.

Car dealerships are no strangers to pleas for help. The manager at this one has heard lots of stories. When I called, he’d just gotten off the phone with someone who was about to lose a car because of a credit problem. “I’m still working on that,” he said.

He has learned to tell which pleas are genuine.

There was no doubt about this woman, he said. He listened to her story — she had also lost her father violently a few years ago — and he tried to console her.

When she said she would have to call every dealer and repair shop in town until she found someone to help, he said, “Don’t call anyone else. I’m going to help you. Where’s your truck?”

He sent a tow truck to bring it in. The pickup was not one of the dealership’s lines, but that made no difference. The dealership fixed the broken drive shaft at no charge.

“He saved my world,” the woman said when she called the Post to share her gratitude. She wanted to tell the whole world about the generous act.

“If I could just hang a big banner across the store, I would,” she said.

No banners are necessary, the dealership manager told me. But he agreed to talk about the incident in hopes that others might realize how a small effort on their part can make a big difference.

He could tell that the woman had had a run of bad breaks, he said, but she was a woman of faith who was doing all she could to hold her family together.

“This girl had no other place to turn to,” he said. “It just struck a chord with me that day. I felt like it was something I needed to do.” So the truck was fixed within a couple of days, and he told the woman to come back and let him replace her tires later, also at no charge. It won’t be long until they’re too worn to pass inspection.

“You do what you can,” the manager said. Even a small helping hand can make have a huge impact on people in need — people in our own backyard, he said.

He’s not trying to say his business is better than any others. All dealerships do the same, he said.

“We all try to give back to our community, because we depend on our community. We want to give back.”

But he and the people in his service department have won a permanent place in the woman’s heart.

“They didn’t have to do this,” she said. “I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post. Contact her at 704-797-4244 or

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