January 1, 2014

You have no idea whose tire you might help change


Many recalled Jacqueline Kennedy’s courage and graciousness in the wake of her husband’s assassination as the nation commemorated its 50th anniversary back in November.

Here’s a story I wish had happened to me — but rather, it happened to a childhood pal in New Jersey. Brian’s an amiable, “regular guy” (albeit a rabid Republican). It was early December 1983. The sky was dark as he drove home in a cold, hellacious rainstorm. His commute traversed upscale Basking Ridge.

He happened upon a late model BMW with a flat tire. A woman, wearing a hooded raincoat, was attempting to remove the jack from her trunk (no cell phones back then to call the cavalry).

He stopped to lend a hand. In spite of the gloomy day, the woman wore sunglasses. While he was jacking up her Beemer, she knelt down beside him to help, and removed her sunglasses.

Brian can talk paint off your house, but he was struck speechless. He proceeded to extol the engineering prowess of the BMW’s jack. The woman was amused.

Task completed, she insisted on his address. He complied. Within days, a package arrived from Morristown BMW. Inside, a brand new BMW jack. An enclosed note read:

“Dear Brian — Chivalry is certainly not dead — at least on the highway in New Jersey. I am forever grateful. Perhaps we’ll meet again someday. Merry Christmas! – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.”

I would’ve responded, asking how soon she’d like to meet, and suggest a few drinks, as I’ve no use for a BMW jack. But I digress.

That jack sits on his fireplace mantle along with the heartfelt handwritten acknowledgment on “12 Park Ave.” letterhead.

In 2014, I hope you get the opportunity to change someone’s flat tire. Or perhaps someone slows down long enough to change yours. Happy New Year!

Buddy DoyleGardiner
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