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M2C-06-Cold Night Encounter

M2C-06-Cold Night Encounter

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Published by kp.lacroix

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Published by: kp.lacroix on Apr 09, 2008
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05/08/2014

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1
My 2 CentsA Cold Night Encounter
A Story by Donna Benson“Oh, Holy Night the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of the dear Saviors’birth.” The radio played as Franklin Hampton drove his 18-wheeler down the dark interstate.It was late, much later than he usually drove. Christmas was this weekend and he needed toget home. The kids were coming home this year. He smiled as he sang along in his clear tenorvoice. He loved Christmas; he just did not like the weather that came with it. However,tonight was a beautiful star lit sky, very beautiful but very cold. The temperature hoveredaround two degrees. Franklin was thankful for his heater.He came around the next bend in the road and saw a car with flashing lights barelyblinking on the shoulder of the road. What a cold night to have car trouble. He slowed his rigwatching for signs of movement in the car. He could not in good conscience, leave a strandedtraveler in the cold. At first, he did not see anyone in the car but just as he passed, he sawmovement in the back seat. He immediately pulled to the side and stopped. Pulling on hisheavy coat and grabbing a blanket off the bed in the sleeper, he climbed down and walkedback to the car.Janie Weber stirred when she heard the air brakes engage on the truck. She was cold,colder than she had ever been. This was an awful time for her car to conk out. The towtruck was supposed to be here any time. She hoped this was it. She had crawled into theback seat, wrapped in her coat and put some of the clothes from her suitcase on top to staywarm. As she sat up, she realized it was a semi truck, not her tow truck. She did not want toroll down her window and let even more cold inside, but she could not be rude.She spied the blanket older man carrying. She smiled as she rolled down the window.“Hello, missy. Car trouble?”“Yes, I think it’s the alternator. The lights went dim, and then it just conked out. Icalled the auto club and the tow truck is supposed to be here anytime.” I don’t know how Iam going to pay for it, but maybe it won’t be too much she thought.“Well, wrap this around you and come get warm in my truck till it gets here. It’s toocold for you to stay here with no heat. And don’t you worry about me; I have agranddaughter about your age and great grandkids to boot.”Janie hesitated but realized she was getting too cold. Soon she would begin to gethypothermia. “All right, I am really cold.” She climbed out a little awkward as her limbsrefused to move normally.
 
2“My name is Franklin Hampton.” The older man said as he wrapped the blanketaround the small woman. He guessed her to be in her mid-twenties. He held her elbow tosteady her as they made their way to his truck. Janie had some difficulty climbing into thecab, but Franklin knew he could not help her. He stood behind her in case she fell. Shemade it into the warm cab and sighed with relief as she sat in the passenger seat.Immediately she began to shiver. Pin picks of pain knifed in her hands and feet, she musthave been colder than she thought.Franklin saw her shiver, “Why don’t you get in back and climb under the covers. Iknow, I know that would make you uncomfortable, but you need to get warm as soon aspossible. I will stay up here and keep a look out for that tow truck.”Again, Janie hesitated. She was so cold. She could be with a rapist for all she knew.However, Franklin looked just like he said he was a grandfather and a nice one at that.Nodding she rose painfully and climbed into the bed bedclothes and all, burying under twoblankets and still wrapped in the blanket he brought to her car. She fell asleep as soon as herhead hit the pillow.Franklin knew Janie was asleep, so he did not wake her when the tow truck arrivednearly an hour later. Franklin gave the driver directions to have the car towed to his brother-in-law’s shop nearly an hour away. The tow truck driver grumbled as he finally agreed afterFranklin offered to pay him for the extra miles. Franklin knew George’s shop would get thecar fixed as soon as possible and Janie would be able to get on her way. It was nearly mid-night, but the shop was a twenty-four hour truck stop shop.Janie did not wake as the semi-truck moved out to follow the tow truck towing Janie’scar. Two hours later she woke a bit disoriented but immediately remembered her car. Shesat up quickly and looked out the window. She was at a truck stop. She could see her car inthe shop with the hood up and a technician working on the engine. She could see Franklinstanding to the side talking with the worker. She looked around for her purse andremembered she had left it in the car. She must have really been out of it. She tidiedherself as much as possible and made her way to the shop. She felt better. She was not coldany longer and though she was tired she felt better.“Well, hello there.” Franklin said watching as Janie entered the shop. “George herewill have your rig ready in about three hours. You got the best here, the owner. His tech gotsick so he is filling in tonight. Luckily, his brother owns the local auto parts store, so he wasable to get the part. He has keys to the store, just let himself in and left a note telling themwhat it took. He’ll settle with them later. Why don’t you and I go inside and get somecoffee?”“Ah, sure.” Janie watched the technician as she walked away. He never looked up ashe said, “I’ll call you when I’m finished.” Janie turned back to her car, retrieved her pursefrom the floor in the back seat and followed Franklin inside.
 
3They sat in a booth facing one another. “I cannot thank you enough. I think I mighthave frozen if you had not come along when you did. I did not mean to fall asleep and leaveyou to handle things.” She said a little sheepishly. Franklin ordered coffee and Janie tea.“Don’t think anything of it. I was glad I was there to help. Others have helped me inthe past and now it’s my turn.”“You are different than I thought truckers were. I always thought they were dirty,foul mouthed fat men.” Janie put her hand over her mouth as she realized how thatsounded. “I am so sorry, here you help me and I insult you.”Franklin laughed, “Oh there are lots of those kinds of drivers, always have been andalways will be. Actually, I used to be one of those foul-mouthed drivers, but not anymore. Asfor other drivers, more and more family men are driving these days, as well and husband andwife teams. There are even a few single women out here. They are clean normal people justtrying to make a living. Anyway, Jesus found me out there on the road and I have never beenthe same again. Actually, there are many believers out here. Are you a Christian?”“I guess, I mean I was raised in church. I haven’t attended regularly in several years.”She was not sure she wanted to talk with some Jesus freak, but he had helped her so shewould listen. Besides she always thought of herself as a Christian just not one that talkedabout her beliefs. ”What made the difference? What changed you?” She was curious aboutthe answer.“Well, my wife was going to leave me. She called one Saturday night and said she wastired of being alone. I was gone most of the time. The kids were grown and she was lonely.I was devastated. I just dropped my load in Pomona California, so I went to the truck stop inOntario. I was depressed. It was Sunday morning and as I walked to the restaurant, I heardmusic coming from the chapel. It drew me, so I slipped in the back row of chairs. ChaplainsRon and Gladys were singing. It soothed my soul. I don’t even remember what Ron spokeabout, but I realized half way through the service, I wanted a change in my life.”“Any way, after service they invited everyone for a barbeque lunch. Ron barbequedhamburgers and hot dogs, Gladys made homemade chili; it was quite a spread. I couldn’tremember the last time I felt welcomed. In the mist of my pain, God brought me to a place Icould find some peace. I enjoyed the talk around the table. There were ten or elevendrivers talking about the life on the road, their families and their faith in Jesus. I wastouched in a way I had never been touched before. Later that afternoon I had theopportunity to talk with Ron and Gladys by myself. You could feel the love in them. Theyloved me even though they didn’t know me and I could feel their love and concern. I pouredout my heart. They wouldn’t allow me to make excuses for my mistakes or blame my wife orfamily. My decisions affected my family and I had to take ownership of them. Later I couldnot believe I actually told them everything going on in my life, but I am glad I did. They gaveme good council. On my way home, I realized I wanted what Ron and Gladys had. I wasn’tsure what it was, but I wanted it. Oh, I know that doesn’t make much sense but that’s what Ifelt.”

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