A Good Samaritan in Our Day

Saturday morning I went rock climbing in Rock Canyon with my good friend Martin Moreno and his son David.  On the way up to the canyon my car was acting a little strange.  After parking in the upper parking lot at the canyon trail head, I was excited to get out and breathe in the smells of nature. Unfortunately, my olfactory nerves were greeted by the repugnant odor of something electrical burning.  I sniffed around the hood of my Accord to verify it was my engine & not one of the neighboring vehicles.  By the time I verified that it was in fact my car, the smell had dissipated & I replaced the urgency of the moment with the excitement of the adventure lying ahead.

Martin, David & I enjoyed a great time on the rocks that began with a prayer asking for safety.  We spent a good portion of the day clinging to cliffs that look over Utah Valley.

A fun day climbing.

David Moreno at the top of Rock Canyon.

We finished playing SpiderMan & hiked down the canyon.  After we said goodbye, I threw my gear in my car & hopped in. I slid the key into the ignition and with apprehension turned the key.  The car started but my dashboard looked like a Christmas tree.  Every light was burning brightly.

I made it home without further incident.  I was lucky that I could coast more than half of the way home.  I pulled into the garage thinking of a good time to take my car in on Monday.

I shared my tales of climbing with my wife and kids and got ready to work on my “Saturday Home Improvements”.  With list in hand I headed off to Home Depot.  Before a minute had passed my radio started blinking on and off and then the lights on my dash followed suite. Shortly thereafter the engine was pulsing with short bursts of power and then silent lulls.  I pulled off to the side of the road and called my wife for a rescue.  She jumped into her van and came to get me.  A nice couple helped me push the car onto a safer place on the road while I waited.  Because of the electrical smell, the lights on the dash and the how the electrical instruments kept shorting out I was convinced that it was the battery.  So Nicole and I tried to jump it.  The battery accepted the charge but wouldn’t sustain it.  So the next stop was Checker Auto Parts.

After getting all of the battery specs, we headed down the road to Checker auto parts.  I have not had good experiences with many auto mechanics.  I am sure that most of it has to do with my lack of knowledge and the fact that I have never really done any auto repairs outside of changing my own oil, wiper blades, tires, and light bulbs.  I walked in to Checker not knowing what to expect.  I walked in telling the nice girl there that I needed a new battery.  She quoted me a few prices for different batteries that would work.  Then she asked me what the problem was.  As she did, another employee, Dave Gutieras, walked over to see if he could help.  I described the symptoms and they suggested that we test things before I spend $120 for a new battery.  I felt relief that they seemed to know what they were doing and wouldn’t just sell me a battery that I didn’t need.  They asked if I could bring the car and/or battery into the store to test.  I agreed that I would bring the battery in but told them that I didn’t have the tools to remove the battery.  Dave offered a basic tool kit to do the job.

Checking the Battery and AlternatorMy wife patiently waited while I extracted the battery.  I didn’t realize that batteries are so heavy.  Dave and company charged up the battery for free and gave it back to me.  The battery had enough juice to power the engine to make the short jaunt back to Checker.  Once there Dave checked the alternator and it showed that it was not working hardly at all.  Our mechanic was not open and the next day was Sunday and I really didn’t want to spend the next week going back and forth to the mechanics.  Dave described how it wasn’t to difficult to make the repair myself.  After much contemplation and asking quite a few questions I decided to buy a new alternator and do the job right there in the parking lot.  The only thing that pushed me over the edge was that Dave Gutieras said that he would show me how.  He came out and and again let me use another tool set and showed me how to get started.  The store didn’t have any visitors in the last few hours and so Dave helped me whitout neglecting his duties.  The replacement of the alternator in my Honda Accord looked very straight forward and it seemed like a simple job of undoing two bolts and then lifting it straight out.  This was not the case.  Dave spent a great deal of time twisting and turning and yanking and pulling without success.  After a few hours, he had to lock up the store and close down so I had a go at it myself.  I also twisted and turned and then tried to analyze the object and the space that it could fit through.  After, a few bruises to my hands and an attempt at every possible angle I still had no success in removing the voleyball sized piece of hardware. I was concerned that after the store was all locked up that I would be left to my inexperienced self to try and get the equipment replaced.  It was 10:00 at night and I had already heard Dave talk about his wife at home.

Dave didn’t abandon me but rather came back out after locking up the store and continued to help me.  I never asked Dave to help nor did I think that he would continue after the store was closed but not only did he keep helping but decided that we needed better tools so he ran home and brought his entire auto repair arsenal back with him including a light that we hung from the open hood.  We ended up removing the timing belt cover, the power steering fluid, loosening the radiator, moving the  air conditioning hoses and pulling out more bolts than either one of us expected.  He kept working with and for me until nearly midnight when with sheer brute force Dave pulled the alternator through the gap between the engine and the radiator moving the entire engine block to get it out.  Once we knew that it was possible putting the new one in was much easier.  I pulled the engine block back and Dave pushed the new one through the tight spot.

Dave could have said thanks for buying the alternator and went home to his wife who was patiently waiting for him.  He could have given up after he wracked every one of his knuckles making them bleed.  He could have stayed in the store and never started to help me saying, “Good luck stranger.”  He could have said we don’t have the tools you will have to do it later.  He could have crossed by me on the other side of the parking lot and just left, but he didn’t.  Never once did Dave complain.  Never once did Dave swear.  When I asked if I could pay him for his good deeds he smiled and said, “That takes all the fun out of it.”  I knew that he really just wanted to help his neighbor.  My story and Dave’s kindness reminds me of another stranded traveler as recounted in Luke 10:25–37

The Good Samaritan Painting

The Good Samaritan Painting

A certain lawyer stood and tempted the Master, saying, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?
“He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
“And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
“And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
“And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
“And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
“And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:25–37)

Thank you Dave Gutieras it is clear that you know the meaning of  “Go, and do thou likewise.”  You helped this stranded traveler on his way and I am grateful.  You are truly a Good Samaritan

Dave Gutieras - A Good Samaritan

Dave Gutieras - A Good Samaritan

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