Pay It Forward

I’ve been sick for four days and I’m sick of it! So I go to the health center in the morning, knowing full well that I’ll be there a while. The last time I was sick, it lasted ten days, so I’m hoping they can give me something to end whatever this is. Two and a half hours later, I have a bad cold and a prescription for a freaking decongestant. Whatever. I’ll take it.

I go to CVS to pick up the meds. It’s conveniently located right next to Whole Foods and I really just want some chicken soup. All I want, actually, is my bed and chicken soup.

I open my car door and throw in the prescription before I walk into Whole Foods. Actually, I should grab my hoodie. It’s always cold in the grocery store. I drop all my stuff on the driver’s seat and reach for my hoodie. Let go of the door to put it on. But I don’t have the door open all the way because the car next to me is too close. And now it’s slowly shutting, wait, what no! The door is shut. And locked! I fucking locked myself out again! God dammit! I scream, Noooooooooo!

That’s not a joke. There are many people around and I have to cause a scene. There’s a very thuggish-dressed guy (I don’t know, jeans down to his knees, big black jacket, hat) with a really nice smile near the front of my car and he immediately yells over. “You lock yourself out?” I moan. Yesssss. “I have AAA if you want.” Huh? “Do you have a phone? ‘Cause mine’s dead.” I stare in the window of the drivers side. My phone and keys sit on the seat.

Yea, I have a phone. It’s right there. I point in the car. He laughs. Now a Mom-ish looking lady approaches the trunk of my car. “You lock yourself out?” Yea. “I have AAA, you can use it.” What??? “Yea. But I don’t have my phone on me.”

I don’t know if I’m more in disbelief that these two strangers immediately offered to let me use their AAA, or that they both don’t have cell phones on them. Or one that works, anyway.

I moan again and collapse onto my car. The guy yells to someone, “Hey, can I use your phone? My friends locked her keys in the car.” I don’t see her, but I hear a girl’s voice. “Absolutely!” She comes into view, probably around my age, blonde. “I just had to go through this the other day.”

What is happening.

She hands the phone to the guy and he calls. The lady at the trunk of the car waits, just in case he can’t get through or something. I don’t know. I don’t know why people are being so nice.

He gets through and the lady goes on her way. Thank you!! Blondie writes her number on a piece of paper. “Just call me when you get in because they’ll keep calling me until I tell them they got here. If they call, I’m going to just keep saying they haven’t gotten here yet, until you call me.” OK. Got it. Thank you!! She goes on her way.

Now I notice a guy parked on the other side of me. His car door is open and he sits in the driver seat, staring at the bottom of my car. “Uh, your tire’s really low.”

Oh my Goddddddd. Kill me. What? I groan. So dramatic about everything. I walk over and look. It’s definitely low. Nick chimes in, all positive. “AAA can fix that for you when they get here.” The concerned guy tells me I definitely need to put air in it. AAA might not be able to do that when they get here. I sit on the curb. Groan and throw my head into my lap. The guy, who actually might be cute, looks at me like I’m a bratty 13-year-old. “It’s not that big a deal. There’s a gas station right there. They can fill it up for you. You don’t even need to leave the parking lot.” I look at him like he couldn’t possibly understand what I’m going through right now. Then he closes his car door to reveal that he’s wearing a fanny pack. OK. Not cute. He walks away.

So now it’s just me and the guy. If he didn’t have such a nice smile I might have been a little scared of him at first. His name is Nick. “Did you have to be somewhere.” No, thankfully, I have off today. … Do YOU have somewhere you need to be?? “Nope.” You’re OK just waiting here with me? “Yea.”

Wow, and I’m sitting here annoyed that I have to wait around for someone to unlock my car, and this guy, for no reason at all, is perfectly fine with sitting here for 25 minutes AND letting me use his AAA. I sit on the curb with my stupid hoodie. He sits behind me on a ledge that goes around the CVS. I notice a splint on his finger.

What happened? “Got in a fight.” Oh…. Did you win? He smiles big. “Yea.” Over what? “The guy wanted to buy drugs from me.” …Oh. ….

This is going nicely. Maybe I should stop asking questions.

A guy walks by in the distance. Nick yells to him. “Yo! Fat Boy!” The man responds. I wouldn’t say he’s really fat, maybe just a little overweight. He walks over, unphased. Nick starts in on him. “Yo, your girl last night.” Fat Boy responds, “Yo she’s a fuckin’ crazy bitch.” I sit in between them as they talk, looking off and trying not to intrude. It’s like Nick pretends I’m not there all of a sudden, which is perfectly fine by me.

As soon as “Fat Boy” is within ear distance of Nick, his voice lowers and I hear nothing of what they’re saying. It’s crazy. Like, he’s right next to me, and I can’t hear him. That’s a skill. I’m serious.

Nick eventually does tell him the deal of what’s happening. Why he’s sitting here for no reason with some random white girl next to him. Fat Boy immediately jumps in. “Oh my buddy used to work for AAA, he could get into your car.” He stands up, like he’s about to go get his friend.

I mean really, even this guy wants to help me. Nick tells him not to bother. AAA is on the way. Fat Boy goes on his way.

Nick and I talk some more. He’s from here – Venice. This is like his turf. I feel cool knowing him. And glad I’m on his good side, because for some reason, I get the feeling I don’t want to be on his bad side. He tells me he did spend three years in Hawaii, which was awesome. Went there for surfing. Well that’s pretty cool, Nick. He seems like a nice guy.

Who sells drugs.

A scrawny guy on a beat up beach cruiser that is somehow made to look badass rides by. Now Nick yells to him. The kid rides over. All serious. Skids to a stop in front of us. On his beach cruiser. I mean, really.

Again, I avert my eyes, “looking for AAA to pull in”. They also talk in hushed tones. It is now that I see the silver lining of this day. My only plan of productivity today was to write a blog post. And I didn’t know what I was going to write about. A gift, really.

Then scrawny guy rides off. As soon as he’s out of ear shot, Nick tells me. “He thinks I fucked his girlfriend.”

….Uh. Oh,…. “Yea.” ….So did you? “No! She’s not even cute.” OK, he definitely did not use the word ‘cute’ but I can’t remember what exactly he said. Thankfully, he doesn’t ask me anything about myself, because God knows I would tell him everything.

Finally, AAA arrives. They get in my car immediately. They’re so nice. And Nick is so nice. I can’t believe he waited with me this whole time. He tells me there is a reason. He’s done a lot of bad shit in his past. “If I have any chance to help someone out, I do. ‘Cause karma comes back.” Yea man, I hear you. Word.

As soon as I can get in my car I call Blondie. She doesn’t answer so I text her. Then Nick is saying bye to me. Wait! I’m going into to Whole Foods, can I get you a sandwich or something? “No, no, no, I’m fine.” Really, not even a soda or something? “No, I’m fine.” I’m getting soup. Do you want some soup?? “No, Lindsay, really, I’m good. You have a good day.” I thank him profusely and give him a hug.

No last names, no numbers exchanged, just a kind civilian helping out a stranger. I feel very lucky and grateful and hope I can have the opportunity to pay it forward. Thanks Nick!

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