My car is only five-and-a-half years old, but it has a lot of miles on it, and things have started to fade away — like the gas gauge, which hasn’t worked in more than a year. I checked on having it fixed, but two different shops told me it would take $900 to repair (apparently the sensor is embedded in the fuel pump back in the gas tank, and the whole pump assembly would have to be replaced).

I haven’t been able to justify spending nearly a fourth of the car’s total value on a new fuel gauge, so I’ve been making do without it. I know that if I drive normally, I can go about 450 miles on a tank of gas, so I just reset the trip odometer with every fresh tank and try to keep an eye on it.

Sometimes I don’t try hard enough. A circuitous trip from Buies Creek to Durham and back home added a few more miles than I anticipated this past Tuesday. When I was about three miles from home, I hit the button to check, and it revealed that I’d already driven 460 miles. The car made it one more mile before the engine sputtered to a halt, leaving me a good half mile from the nearest gas station.

I pulled off the road and flagged the window, then started walking to the station, clambering through the roadside ditch in my full dress suit. Before I reached the station, however, a Good Samaritan put two and two together and ascertained my plight. He was on his way to get some gas for his employees’ lawn mowers, and offered to help me out, too.

Shortly I was out of the ditch and driving again. His name, he said, was Lamott. In the course of a short conversation, he told me which church he attended, and said he didn’t want anything in return. He was sure I’d do the same thing for someone else, he said.

I hope I will have the grace to do so.

God bless Lamott.

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