(Reading time 10 minutes)
The truck stop:
On the road from Bismarck
As told to me by my very close friend Ned Brown, a great writer and storyteller.
Ned was just leaving Bismarck, North Dakota, driving west, crossing the Missouri River on route 94. It was getting dark, cold, and starting to snow. A large well-lighted sign along the side of the road, heading west, read:
1 MILE AHEAD
LAST CHANCE TO FILL UP.
OASIS RESTAURANT, MOTEL AND GAS STATION
NEXT GAS 117 MILES.
Ned already filled up with gasoline, in Bismarck, and was still good with gas for at least 300 miles. As he approached the exit of the interstate, it was starting to get dark. The snow was getting heavier. And of all times, his car started to miss and backfire. He reasoned that it might be some bad gas from the last station, so he exited the interstate and limped into one of the largest gas stations he can ever remember seeing. A sign read:
100 gas and diesel pumps
100 motel rooms
Mechanics on duty, 24 hours.
This motel was privately owned by a Greek man, who as a boy, was a sheep herdsman. He grazed his family of sheep on this very spot, living with them, day and night, through good, bad, cold, or hot weather. He promised himself, that when he grew up, he would build a shelter here for travelers. He did grow up, and this is the promised shelter, the Oasis restaurant, motel, gas station and Truck Stop. The whole story is on every menu in the restaurant.
Ned planned to stay in Glendive, Montana that night, about 150 miles west. His car limped into the pump area right up to an open pump and stalled. He was positioned opposite an older Chevy Suburban fully packed. On Ned’s side, he encountered a woman, leaning against the pump crying. Ned approached her and inquired if anything were wrong. Sobbing, she explaining that she needed gas and didn’t have any money or a credit card. She said that her boyfriend had abandoned her and their 2 children. She was now heading toward Seattle, Washington to her grandmother’s home. She was a very pretty lady, about 30 years old, and her name was Caroline.
No money, no gasoline, no credit card, no food, no place to stay for the night. Her children were freezing in the car with no engine heat. The kids were crying and steaming up the old Chevy Suburban windows. It was freezing cold and snowing. They were a thousand miles from home.
Ned could feel the distress of the situation. He had to do something. The first thing he did was to fill up her tank, with almost 30 gallons of gasoline. He then told Caroline to go into the Oasis restaurant there and order a meal for all of them. He booked a room for them to sleep and clean up that night. Ned told her to have breakfast in the morning, order a take-out meal for the drive tomorrow, and put it on his bill. He would put it on his expense account credit card that had allowances to entertain and treat customers. This would work. Everyone was delighted and very thankful. Ned felt great! They hugged and kissed goodbye. In the morning, they would be off to Grandma’s house, with a basket, just like Little Red Riding-hood. Ned handed her a $20 dollar bill for any emergencies. That got another good hug from Caroline. Oh! He thought, if this could have been another time?
After they were gone, the mechanics checked Ned’s car. Nothing was wrong. How about that for an unexplainable, coincidental happenstance? Could that have been a divine intervention? He felt great for his contribution to Lady Caroline and her two children. It was his good deed for the day. Ned left and continued on his trip. His car ran smoothly for the rest of his traveling and all the way home again.
One thing however, caused a little concern. Ned traveled about an hour down the road, after his encounter with Lady Caroline, in the same direction she and the children would be heading the next morning. As he passed a gas station in Miles City, Montana, he saw a familiar sight. The very same old Chevy Suburban was sitting by a pump. There was Lady Caroline, sobbing against a gas pump. She was crying and talking to a truck driver, emoting the same distress that worked on Ned, and she still had a thousand miles to go.