An Unusual Thanksgiving Day: Part I

Ben told me he did something really stupid on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012.

Ben lives in San Joaquin County, California, which is about 1½ to 3 hours of driving from San Francisco to the east, depending on traffic. His Thanksgiving Day did not start right. He was heading to San Francisco on Highway 580Thanksgiving Day_1 at about 9 a.m. He had been cruising steadily at 70 mph when the car in front of him braked suddenly and forcibly. So instinctively Ben pushed hard on the brakes too. He brought his good old Dodge Charger from 70 mph to 0 in 130 feet, a mere 2 feet from the Nissan Rogue in front of him. Ben was very awake and very flustered the rest of the trip.

In mid-afternoon Ben drove back to San Joaquin safely without any physical harm to his body or his car. Then he decided to go to Walmart (a large retail store) to have some keys made. He had misplaced the spare keys to his home for a while and it was about time to get them replaced. This time he would have two extra sets made just to be safe.

On his way go Walmart, about a mile from the store, he saw a family asking for help and begging for money at a street corner. It was a young couple, probably in their late thirties or early forties. They held up a make-shift, hand-written sign that read: “LOST JOB. NEED FOOD. PLZ HELP.” They had two children huddling there with them. The boy looked like ten years old. His younger sister might be four or five. Ben stopped and gave them two dollars.

After he had the keys copied, while still inside the store, Ben thought about that family, especially the kids, and told himself, “Two dollars isn’t going to buy them anything; I’ve got to help them a little more.” So Ben started shopping. He bought a hotly roasted chicken, a box of King’s Hawaiian bread, some El Monte bananas, some Fuji apples, a six-pack of Squeeze real fruit juice and a bag of Lay’s baked tortilla chips, the latter just for the kids. He even picked up a few free plastic forks and knives from the food counter.

He left the store and started driving toward where he last saw the family. He came upon a familiar “T” intersection. He knew two corners had a stop sign, one did not. He was on the corner that did not have the stop sign. So he drove through it without stopping, without paying too much attention as a matter of fact. Then at the corner of his left eye, he saw a big pick-up truck coming straight at him at full speed on the driver’s side. With only time to utter some profanity but not enough time to hit the warning horn, Ben and the other driver managed to swerve away from each other within inches. Holy Mama, that was my second brush with death in one day. What else can go wrong? Ben asked himself while he pulled over on the shoulder of the road trying to stop his heart from exploding.

After he rested for a while and regained his composure somewhat Ben drove up to the family at the street corner and gave them the food in a corrugated paper box. They were very happy and thankful and the parents shook Ben’s hand. When Ben pointed to the bag of chips he thought the children’s eyes instantly doubled in size. That was worth every penny that I just spent, Ben told himself.

*** To Be Continued ***

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