Willie’s Wisdom

Twenty Minutes of Caring
In 1979, I was a young woman sharing an apartment with two friends. One Thursday night, my roommate Kim asked me to drive her to her sweetheart’s home across town. He was in the Navy and had just returned from several months at sea.

Since it was Thursday, payday was the next day. I had a tiny bit of gas and absolutely no money. “I can take you there,” I said, “so long as he has a dollar or two for gas. I don’t have enough to make it home.” Kim was my coworker as well as my roommate; my payday was also her payday, and I knew she’d be broke, too.

“He’s got money,” she said. So we set out in my trusty Dodge Colt station wagon.

My car buckled and wheezed to a halt about halfway to his house. I managed to coast to the freeway’s shoulder.

Turning on the flashers, I looked at her. She looked at me. We were in a jam. It was late. We were stranded in a rough part of town. And we had not a cent between us. We were scared.

I wrote a note on a piece of paper, “Please call this number and tell the person who answers that her friends in the green Colt are out of gas.” I wrote down our home phone number; I didn’t want our would-be rescuer to know that the phone number was our phone number.

Kim said, “What if nobody stops?” I shrugged.

A minute later I said, “What if somebody stops?” Neither option seemed particularly attractive. We’d landed ourselves in a dangerous mess.

Ten minutes later, we saw headlights pull in behind us on the shoulder. My heart thudded as a  man approached my window. I rolled it down about one inch.

“You girls okay?” He asked. “We’re out of gas,” I responded. “Could you please phone a friend of ours?”

The man said he would. I handed him the note I’d written and watched as he returned to his car and left.

A few minutes later, a guy in a creepy-looking van pulled up. “We’ve been helped,” I told him, as you might say to a clerk in a store. Kim and I shuddered after he left.

A few minutes later, we spotted headlights behind us again. By now our nerves were overtuned.

Then I saw the man who’d taken the note and promised to call our roommate walking from his car to ours. Why was he returning? I trembled.

I rolled down my window a tiny crack.

“I’ve called your friend,” he said. “She’ll be along soon. I didn’t want to leave you girls sitting out here alone late at night–I have daughters about your age. My name’s Willie. I’m going to sit in my car until your help arrives.”

A few minutes later, I watched the creepy-looking van pass by again.

I’ll never know what might have happened had Willie not returned to watch over us. That’s a good thing.

Thirty-one years later, I can’t remember the name of Kim’s former sweetheart. But I think of Willie often. I think about his wisdom and caring, and how he covered our foolishness with his judgment.

Thanks, Willie, wherever you may be.

11 Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe.
12 Wisdom will save you from evil people,
from those whose words are twisted.
Proverbs 2:11-12 (NLT)


  1. Marcus Goodyear

    Oh boy. I have a daughter. This is powerful story telling, a wonderful modern twist on the Good Samaritan.

  2. Thank you, Marcus!