Be helpful and kind

Melissa Hart

I was on my way home from Syracuse, New York. It was a short out and back trip for a New York Holstein board meeting and I was traveling alone. Sharing my location with my family every time I stopped because you just never know, I had pulled into a one pump gas station in eastern Ohio to fill up one last time before it got dark.

It was obvious this was an older station that didn’t get the traffic of a large truck stop so I pulled up and paid special attention to my surroundings. I texted my husband that I was stopping for gas and got out of the car to fill up when I heard a guy giving another guy instructions on what to do next. 

Trying to mind my own business and not stare, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation.When I glanced over, I watched the interaction of the two people.

A white man who I later found out was 38 years old with a long beard, shaved head and a cut off t-shirt showing off his tattoo laden body was winding up an air hose while telling a young Black boy what he needed to do. He instructed the young man that he needed to get a new tire as soon as possible, “Make sure you go straight to the tire place and get [a] new tire, you can’t be drivin’ all over with this tire, you need to get it fixed asap! I don’t want to turn on the [expletive] news tonight and see you got killed after wreckin’ on the freeway!”

The young Black man listened intently, nodded his head, thanked the man and got in his car and left. When I went into the store to get a bottle of tea, the bearded man was also the cashier as he was now behind the counter and just started telling me about the proceedings of his conversation with the traveler. The young man blew out his tire, couldn’t get the lug nuts off with the lug wrench that came with the car, so he had to get another tool to get the lug nuts off. In the process, he broke one off so now the kid was running around with four lug nuts and he was hoping he would get to his destination safely. He was clearly upset with the situation but clearly enjoyed the role of rescuer as he pulled off his hat, rubbed his bald head while heaving a heavy sigh. 

I told him how kind I thought he was to help the young man, especially since this was just a filling station, not an auto repair shop. He replied, “I may not be perfect, but I treat others the way I want to be treated and if you’re good to me, I’ll be there for you ‘til the end no matter who you are or what color skin you have.”

This is flyover country and this is why flyover country matters. Maybe it’s time we turn off the television, put the cell phones down and look around to the honesty and truth of our daily lives. It’s time to live in the present, enjoy others around us and simply be helpful and kind to whoever comes across our path. 

Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at