A BLACK-SHIRTED ANGEL AND HIS BAND

  Editor’s Note: Following is a page from my spiritual notebook.

I’ll get a coffee for the road! After a quick morning workout, I parked at Burger King. I’ll change into my skirt, too. Inside, I passed a dark-haired girl wearing a ponytail, She waited at the order area. I’ll get coffee later.

Hurrying, I pushed the wooden restroom door but stopped and blinked. This isn’t right…

Behind me I heard the girl call, “Wrong room!”

I stepped back and leaned around to see the outside of the door. Its large blue letters read, “MEN.” Oops!

It may have been a warning of another unexpected happening, but my brain was busy with my road trip. I’m going to Indiana to see my friend Loni! We had been high school friends and though we later went separate ways, we kept in touch. This weekend, she was home for her brother’s wedding.

Leaving the “LADIES” wearing my denim skirt, I checked my watch: 7:35. On time to make the two-hour Indiana drive and meet Loni before 10:00. Pleased my plans were going so smoothly, I smiled as I stepped up to the restaurant’s order counter.

However, instead of asking me what I wanted, a different brown-haired woman wearing a black Burger King shirt stood at the order area. Instead of “What would you like?” she said, “Do you know you have a flat tire?”

I looked around. Who’s she talking to? Behind me, the room was empty. I turned back and replied, “I have four new tires.”

She asked, “Didn’t you just go past the drive-through and park?”

I nodded.

She continued, “Barney was working near the window and heard your flat.”

A male voice from the back called, “Yeah! Flats have a ga-flop, ga-flop. I heard hers.”

I turned and walked back several steps to look out and see my Honda CRV. Sure enough, the right rear tire was f-l-a-t! My plans evaporated as I returned to the counter. Wordless, I stared at the kind-faced lady.

Dismay must have covered my face. The woman glanced around the empty restaurant and said, “Don’t worry! Barney will change that flat for you. He’s due for a break.” She turned toward the kitchen and raised her voice. “Barney, you can change this lady’s tire, can’t you?”

In two seconds a slight man appeared, He also wore a black shirt with “Burger King” embroidered in red on the left pocket. He looked at the lady, glanced at me and smiled. “Sure!”

Now my face must have registered disbelief. The lady leaned across the counter and said quietly, “Barney can do anything. It’s no problem. We aren’t busy.” To Barney she said, “Go ahead and take a break, I’ll cover for you.”

Suddenly, I relaxed some. I might not be too late for Loni after all.

Barney came around the counter and asked, “Do you have a jack?” I nodded. My CRV is a 4-wheel drive and the spare tire is attached to the rear of the vehicle. Everything seemed in place.

Not so. My spare was OK and we located the jack. But, the handle used to lift the instrument was nowhere to be found.

After a few minutes the woman came out to see how we were doing. Barney said to her, “Annie, can we use your jack?”

“Sure,” she said. The three of us walked a few steps to her green Chevy van. We both watched Barney find her jack and lift it out. Trailing the wiry man back to my car, Annie con-fided, “At least I know where the jack is! I’ve only had this car for two weeks.”

When she and I reached my CRV, Barney was already lying on the pavement, twisting the arm on her device. Apparently it worked something like turning up a tube of lipstick.

Barney had a blistered index finger. Moving the jack’s arm around and around was a long process. Worse, his first try didn’t lift my car high enough. Poor guy! Bet this is more of a job than he thought.

I felt increasingly helpless as Barney untwisted the arm and moved the jack to another location. “I’ve got to get the flat tire completely off the ground,” he explained. He moved the jack and resumed turning the lift arm.

“Why don’t you come in and get your order?” Annie suggested.

As I followed her in, I worried about all the work Barney was having to do. Suddenly I thought of my AAA card. Why didn’t I think of that right away? I don’t know. Now Barney is out there working away. I’d better let him continue… It’d be an insult to call Triple A now. I checked my wallet. I have enough traveling money — I can give him something for his hard work.

And hard work it was! Annie’s jack didn’t work either. Finally, Barney borrowed a jack from Ivan, another kitchen worker. He stopped by my CRV to see if his Toyota tool worked. It did! Hooray.

For a while Annie and Passion, the first counter girl I saw, watched over the store. In the parking lot, Ivan and I watched Barney. Then Ivan flashed his white-toothed smile and picked up a wrench. Fitting it on a lug nut, he began re-moving my spare from its perch. With a kind of awe he said, “I never changed a tire before.”

An hour after my flat, fresh coffee aroma filled my car and I munched on French Toast Sticks. My spare tire was on and I was rolling down US 131 to meet Loni.

I would see my friend today, thanks to my angel in distress and the BK band.

 

Frances Fritzie

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photos below are of Barney, Annie and Passion. Ivan’s declined having his picture taken. (Kindly forgive the irregularity of these photo inclusions. I am a beginner. Nothing was working uniformly for me.)

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