Q Honest, Gary, this is the one pay it forward story you have been waiting to read.
September, 1980, middle of Moroccan desert halfway between Casablanca and Marrakech, a four-hour drive: My husband has a bad case of turista so I am driving our rental car to Marrakech. I discover that men of Morocco do not like women to pass them so I am doing all sorts of tricky things as I speed down a two-lane road.
It is 100 degrees out and we have no air conditioning. I am driving a small European car and as I ascend a hill my cars starts to slow. I try down shifting. Car still slows so I pull over and the car dies. There are no villages, no people. Only a goat herd very far away.
My husband drags himself out of the car and pokes around. Nothing. One of the men I had passed gallantly pulls over. He speaks Arabic and French. I took French in school 20 years before. He also pokes around the car, lifts the hood. Car does not start.
He cannot take us anywhere as his small car is full. With a wave, he calls "Bon chance, Madame!" and drives off! Trucks ignore my wave, cars are few and it is 4 p.m. We are extremely concerned. We are very far from the gas station behind us and have no idea what is on the other side of the hill.
A But then ...
Q Finally, another man pulls over. He speaks English! He used to work for our Air Force. We are saved.
He tows our car to a gas station just over the hill, as it turned out. He tells us he is a coffee dealer and shows us $100,000 in U.S cash under his mat. He is our new best friend. He takes us to our hotel and we babble about taking him and his wife to dinner to show how grateful we are.
But he explains that he is Muslim and, in his faith, you may not take compensation for a good deed but the person helped is required to aid someone in need in the future.
A A few months later on another steamy day but in California ...
Q August, 1981, California, Interstate 5 somewhere south of Fat City, 30 miles from the last gas station:
It is again 100 degrees. We spot a woman walking a stroller with a baby inside, going in the opposite direction from us and away from an obviously stalled car. I shout to my husband, "She's the one!"
He makes an illegal u-turn and pulls over. She has run out of gas. She climbs in our car and we drive her to the closest station. The men there are so astonished to see a woman with a baby that they volunteer to bring her gas themselves.
So much goodness that started from the kindness of a stranger in Morocco.
A There are good people across the globe and closer to home.
Q I was in the drive-up window at a McDonalds in Fremont when I heard this toddler in he car behind me wailing as loud as could be in his car seat. The young mother had such a distressed look as she tried to comfort her crying child that I had to help, so I pulled ahead and ordered two ice cream cones -- one for the child and the other for the mom and paid for them. The reaction was priceless. The child stopped crying and the mom began crying. Tears of relief, I believe.
A On Monday, one more day of paying-it-forward stories.
Contact Gary Richards at email@example.com or 408-920-5335.