July 23 ē 05:24 AM

True character shows in face of adversity

September 23, 2009
"I'm just calling to let you know that I may need a ride into work on Tuesday," he says. (Since this isn't a widely known story and I don't know whether or not he wants it to be I'll call him Tim Wheeling).

"No problem," I say. It's Saturday, the first day of the so-called Labor Day weekend. For many of us, there's labor around the house or elsewhere involved. "What's up?"

"My car started on fire," Tim says. "I think it's totalled."

"What?????" I say. "Are you kidding me???"

Though Tim chuckles, I know he finds this latest pothole on what's been a very rocky road in his life far from funny. But in true Timmy-Boy fashion the chuckle begins to grow into true laughter.

"Actually it is kinda funny," he says, and proceeds to tell the story.

He's up at Lucky's to pick up a carryout order. He'd just driven up there in his pretty nice—if not a little 'old'—Oldsmobile. Throughout the 15 minutes it takes him to get there, the Olds is just fine. No indicator lights flash, no unusual noises, no smoke, steam, spark, smell.

He's in the restaurant for about ten minutes, waiting for the carryout which he stopped to get for a friend.

With freshly packaged meal in hand, he exits the restaurant and says he notes a "flurry of activity" in the parking lot. He proceeds along and says this:

"I realize the flurry of activity is around my car and my car's on fire."

It's parked right next to other vehicles and restaurant patrons are concerned. Tim's freaked out because he has things in the vehicle. Like a truly busy single sorta guy who also works as a musician quite often, he's got important papers, equipment, miscellaneous items, clothing (including a tux), and whatnot inside the vehicle.

He says his first instinct is to lift the flaming hood but the crowd stops him, reminding him that it'll only fan the flames. Someone has already called 911 and Luis, a longtime Lucky's employee and genuinely good guy, runs out to help him. Risking his own safety, Luis dives right into the vehicle with Tim and pulls out papers, clothes, bags, whatever. A state trooper is first to arrive at the scene, Tim says, and he manages to contain most of the fire through use of a fire extinguisher he pulls from his squad car.

"Ya know Cath," Tim says. "Those little trees in the median at the parking lot? Well, my clothes were hanging off of them while this was going on and it really was pretty funny."

It's also pretty funny, Tim says, when the Imlay City Fire Department pulls up. Assistant Fire Chief Rick Horton takes one look at him and they both burst out laughing. Timmy just might be a "front page story." There's some banter and in true high road fashion my friend just rolls with the punches. He's a man without a vehicle in no position to buy another one who is managing to laugh at the sight of his halfway decent car going up in smoke.

By now the flurry in the parking lot increases. Patrons are curious about all the emergency vehicles and soon enough others who know Tim begin to express their concern. They also make a few jokes and help lift his spirits. He manages to call a person who's been a very good friend to him and she comes and picks him up. The carryout order is cold—plans out the window. It's a so-called holiday weekend during which Tim has a few band jobs. The good friend loans him a vehicle. He carries on knowing that his own burned up car won't even be looked at by the insurance company until Tuesday. In fact it takes until just a few days ago for Tim to learn the final rather unsatisfactory outcome he's stuck with.

He stops in the restaurant last week and thanks everyone for helping him. We all have a laugh, though the situation isn't funny from a practical standpoint. Again, that's the thing about Timmy-Boy. He always manages to find something good to say or do, even when bad things happen.

I express thanks to Luis for helping my friend. Luis says it's what he likes to do and I believe him. He demonstrates his character every time I see him. Just like my friend Timmy-Boy, who is always so kind and nice, a gentleman in the face of calamity. It's no wonder he has so many friends.

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