11:29 pm.

I’m driving somewhere in the middle of Utah. The gas light has been on for 20 minutes or so, but it usually lasts pretty long. I can make it, I tell myself.

The car sputters. It shuts off. I try turning it back on. No luck.

I check my phone – no service.

I roll past a green sign that tells me the next gas station is 15 miles away.

I continue rolling down the hill, slowing down by the second. I make it as far as I can with my blinkers on to end up on a bridge, in a valley, at the bottom-most point. Imagine it like the bottom of a halfpipe. My car is filled with everything I own, since I’m moving across the country.

Directly on my right side is a cinderblock. There was no shoulder space since I was in the middle of the bridge. If I want to get myself out of the middle of the highway, it would be a long, grueling quarter-mile journey uphill.

The feeling of hopelessness sets in. My only hope is if somebody stops to help me. Either that, or I push my car off the bridge, then walk 15 miles to get gas and 15 miles back in the middle of the night. That would take hours.

I’m not one to sit still wait for things to happen to me. I like to take control of the situation and do what I can to fix it. The thought of deferring the outcome of my situation to somebody else, which is utterly out of my control, sounds pointless to me. Maybe someone will stop – but until then, I might as well do what I can to make progress.

So I start pushing.

Inch by inch, the car felt heavier and heavier.

My knees were buckling. My body was leaning into the car almost horizontal to the ground. If I stopped to take a rest, gravity would render 10 minutes of my work useless in 5 seconds.

Every time a car passes, I signal them to help. No luck.

I’m still in the right lane since I’m on a bridge. Each car carries the unlikely possibility of instant death as it zooms past, 5 feet away from me at 65 mph.

My mind flips between two extremes. One minute I’m motivated about putting in the work to dig myself out of this situation – the next minute it seems impossible and I want to give up.

I make it about 50 feet in 30 minutes.

Then a pickup truck pulls over in front of me. A country-looking man steps out and approaches me. Without saying much, he whips out his chain and hooks it to the back of his car and the front of mine..

“You ever done this before?” he asks.

I reply, “No, but I’m a quick learner.”

“Keep it in neutral. I’m the gas, you’re the breaks,” he says. “That’s how this works.”

He has an air of utter competence about him. He’s done this before. He doesn’t say much, but each word carries importance and trust.

I think about how often I meet someone like this, and it feels rare. It was comforting. There was nothing around us except the truth of the situation we were in, and the truth of how we were going to solve it.

30 minutes after the initial feeling of complete hopelessness set in, I was at a gas station filling up, thanking the man who towed me 15 miles. He went on his way, and I went on mine.

This post goes out to that guy. The guy who decided to stop and help because he knew he had the tools to make it happen. The guy who had confidence in his abilities. The guy with few words, but plenty of meaning. He saw a problem and provided a solution, without the hint of a doubt in his mind.

Be like that guy.

As I hop in my car and drive off, all I can think is: This’ll be a great blog post!