Don underwent shoulder replacement surgery last week at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and so far, his doctor is very pleased with the outcome. He was cared for by an exceptional team of medical professionals. It was a skilled staff, and so as to remember them all, I tried to record their names, along with a brief description. I managed to jot most of them down, with one notable exception. The description of the man who helped us when we needed it most doesn’t have a name beside it.
The day before the surgery, we drove through heavy rain to St. Louis. We had decided to take the Tundra, because, with its large new tires, it handles well in poor road conditions. I-44, the main east/west corridor across the state, was closed near St. Louis because of the recent flooding that had impacted much of our state, so we followed a detour off 1-44, much of it 2 lane. We exited on to highway 100 and drove north and east through wooded countryside, brightened, even on that rainy day, with spring greenery, then north on 340, and finally, east on 40 into the city. We traveled by caravan in a long line with all the vehicles that would normally be on the interstate, including a slew of 18 wheelers. It might have been quicker by pony express.
When we finally arrived at Barnes Hospital and pulled into the hospital parking lot, we were numb with exhaustion. In Ozark County, where we live, a good percentage of the population drives pickups, and the parking spaces reflect that, with ample room to navigate. What we hadn’t anticipated was that in the city, all the parking spaces seemed to have been engineered for compact cars. Don started up the spiraling parking lot, searching for an empty spot that would accomodate what now seemed to be our behemoth truck. The few vacant spots we saw were miniscule. After passing several of them, it occurred to us that we had to park somewhere, so Don finally turned into one space between a black downsized pickup and a Mini Cooper, which looked more like a ladybug next to our beast. Halfway in, I got out of the truck to get a better look at the space available. Basically, there wasn’t any. Moving forward one inch would squash the ladybug, and backing out 1/2 inch would put a long gash on the black pickup, not to mention the Tundra. It was as if the jaws of a trap had closed around us.
We have a couple of friends who have driven trucks professionally, and on occasion, they’ve volunteered to back our boat and trailer into a tight spot. At that moment, I wished one of them were there. Don, who graduated with a Master’s in business at the top of his class, and is brilliant in math and language and everything related to the real estate business, somehow missed the class that covered the finer points of large vehicle maneuvering. I ought to know, being more challenged in that arena than he is. Half in and half out of the parking space, we felt paralyzed, loath to move either way. Behind us, cars lined up. The people in the next car, thinking we were leaving, waited for our spot, and the others, I imagined, were growing impatient behind them. I waved the first one on, and positioned myself to do so whenever the lineup stalled. Every time it appeared that the steady steam of traffic was thinning out, 5 more cars appeared around the corner. We were hoping that when we made our move, it would be without a large audience. My mathematical husband was already mentally tallying up the damage to 2 vehicles, and hoping it wasn’t 3. As I stood there, searching the faces of the passersby, I prayed fervently for help to come along.
One car paused in the procession, and through the window, a young man with a kind face mouthed the words, “Do you want help?” I nodded my head, and he pulled over and parked his small car out of the line of traffic. Tall and lean, with a professional look, he climbed out of his car and took charge, giving Don some specific steering guidance that made the trap spring open. In the matter of minutes, the truck was out, free and unscathed.
Years ago, in our country church, one of our friends used to sing a song entitled "My Lord will send a Moses". It was about how, when the Israelites were in a tight spot, God sent Moses to deliver them, and about how God does the same for us in our time of need.
After our rescue last week, Don asked the young man for his card, and he said, “It was nothing”. He got in his car, and drove away and we didn’t even get his name. But we think there’s a good chance that it starts with an M.