Monday, September 24, 2012
The kindness of strangers
I don't know about yours, but my guardian angel rocks.
I put the car into a drain last week. I wish I could say it was a failed attempt to pull off a Top Gear worthy stunt, or that I was side-swiped, or pushed off the road by a throng of peak hour traffic. But no, it was a quiet intersection (albeit at night and very badly lit) and I simply turned too sharply. After three years of driving in Accra and nervously avoiding the many open drains that make driving, cornering and reversing an "exhilarating" challenge, I had finally succumbed: three wheels on the road, one in a drain so deep the offending wheel didn't even touch the bottom.
So there I was, with my daughter, in the dark, on the side of the road, with a large 4wd on a rakish angle.
Help arrived within minutes in the form of a busload of burly policeman who stopped, poured out of the bus, climbed into the drain and, with one in the driver's seat, and the assistance of two other random men who also stopped, lifted the car back onto the road amidst much cheering and clapping.
I confess that when the policeman got into the car my first thought was not 'gosh that's helpful', it was 'damn I hope he doesn't steal my handbag', because honestly you don't here many uplifting stories about the Ghana Police Force. I can tell you ten stories about policeman extorting money at roadblocks - including a couple of personal ones - and not a single one of a policeman coming to someone's assistance, until now. In this case, however, I couldn't have asked for more. They got me back on the road, we all shook hands and laughed, and that was it, with absolutely no suggestion I "contribute to the cause".
Big hat tip to the guardian angels that facilitated that one.
For the record, I would have been happy just with that, but let me just say that I am exceedingly grateful for whatever forces held my car together for the next 45 minutes and got me right across town, through peak hour traffic and a six lane highway, and to within a kilometre of my house before the suspension went out on the car. And when it did, for ensuring that it was on a relatively quiet road with a huge shoulder to pull off on. And I'm also grateful for the taxi driver who not only facilitated lifts to and from the house, but also removed the offending tyre, found the dislodged suspension spring, put it back into place and got the car back on the road - again. (And all without complaining about getting his white, sequined jeans a bit dusty...)
I swore a lot during those few hours, but only at myself. From the moment it happened I was surrounded by generosity and kindness. Don't let anyone tell you the world is full of selfish people, because it's just not true.
photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net