The Generosity of a Stranger, Part 1
I have three magnetic Bob’s Free Bikes signs on my truck—one on each door and one on the tailgate. I’ve seen people take pictures of the signs while driving down the road, been given a thumbs up after someone has seen them and I have had several people come up to me at the Costco gas station saying they had a bike they wanted to donate. So I’m never quite sure what I might encounter because of the signs, but this story tops them all—at least so far.
I was on my way to the West side to deliver some bikes and pick up some others. I had traveled down Beeline, on my way to get on the 202, and was stopped at the McDowell Road intersection. This was during the time when each side of Beeline was down to one lane due to construction of the large Indian Health Services facility on the southwest corner of McDowell Road and Beeline, so the waits were longer than usual.
While I was stopped I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw what I guessed to be a late-90s Dodge or Chrysler pickup truck. Its once-bright red paint had long ago surrendered its luster to the Arizona sun. Like many of the volunteers at Bob's Free Bikes, it had its fair share of wrinkles on its skin too. It looked like the driver and I probably shared the same label of “baby boomer”. He was wearing a well-worn red-checked shirt and perhaps had discovered he had run out of shaving blades before he left the house that morning.
We sat there a while longer when all of a sudden I caught movement in the rearview mirror. I looked up and the driver of the truck had gotten out and was headed my way. I thought “OK, he saw the sign on the tailgate and is coming up to ask what Bob’s Free Bikes is all about.” So I rolled down my window a little—this was during the social-distancing days—and turned my head to him as he approached the driver’s side door. Before I could say anything to him, he says “Here, put this toward some free bikes” and in through the open window a crisp $100 bill fluttered into my lap! I was so flabbergasted I’m not sure I even had the presence of mind to say “thank you”. After he settled back into his truck I caught his attention in the rearview mirror and gave him two thumbs up. He nodded a little in acknowledgement, the light turned green, I got on the 202 westbound and he continued southbound on Country Club.
That experience was a gentle reminder of the truth behind the old saying “Never judge a book by its cover.” It also reminded me of the book “The Millionaire Next Door”, which tells of families and individuals who don’t outwardly appear to be wealthy but who just might be worth a million or more. Regardless of that man’s financial situation, I want to say thank you to whoever that generous soul was, southbound on Beeline highway, one recent morning when our paths crossed.