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You Got Another One, Joey!


My tire had a nail in it. Of all times for this to happen, a flat 
tire. But when is a good time for a flat tire? Not when you are 
wearing a suit and you have been traveling for nearly five hours and,
adding to this bleak picture, nightfall is approaching. Wait; did 
I mention that I was on a country road? 

Okay, now you have the picture. There was only one thing to do: call 
AAA. Yeah, right. The cell phone I bought for security and protection 
in moments like this isn't in range to call anyone. "No Service" it says.
No kidding! I sat for a few minutes moaning and complaining. 
It's a male thing. 

Then I began emptying my trunk so that I could get at the tire and 
tools needed to get the job done. I carry a large plastic container 
filled with what I call "just-in-case-stuff. "When I am training or 
speaking, I love to have props with me. I hate leaving anything home 
so I bring everything just in case. Cars buzz by me. A few beep 
sarcastically. I hear the horn saying "ha ha!" I say, "You'll get 
yours!" Darkness begins to settle in. It's becoming a bit difficult to see. 

The tire is on the passenger side, thank God, away from all the traffic,
but making it difficult to benefit from the headlights of passing cars. 
Suddenly a car pulls off the road behind me. In the blinding light I see 
a male figure approaching me. "Hey, do you need any help?" "Well, it 
certainly isn't easy doing this with a white dress shirt and suit on," I said. 

Then he steps into the light. I literally was frightened. This young 
guy was dressed in black. Nearly everything imaginable was pierced and 
tattooed. His hair was cropped and poorly cut. He had leather bracelets 
with spikes on each wrist. "How about I give you a hand?" he said. 
"Well, I don't know, I think I can..." 

"Come on, it will only take me a few minutes." He took right over. While 
watching him I happened to look back at his car and noticed for the first 
time someone sitting in the passenger seat. That concerned me. I suddenly 
felt outnumbered. Thoughts of carjackings and robberies flashed through 
my mind. I really just wanted to get this over and survive it. 

Then, without warning, it began to pour. The night sky had hidden the 
approaching clouds. It hit like a waterfall and made it impossible to 
finish the tire change. "Look, my friend, just stop what you're doing. 
I appreciate all your help. You better get going. I'll finish after the
rain stops," I said. "Let me help you put your stuff back in the trunk. 
It will get ruined," he insisted. "Then get in my car. We'll wait with 
you." "No, really. I'll take care of everything," I said. "You can't get 
in your car with the jack up like that. It will fall. Come on. Get in," 
he said as he grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the car. 

Crack! Boom! Lightning and thunder roared like a freight train. I 
literally jumped in his car. "Oh God, protect me!" I thought to myself. 
Wet and tired I settled into the back seat. Suddenly a small frail 
voice came from the front seat of the car. "Are you all right?" she 
said as she turned around to face me. "Yes, I am," I replied with much
relief seeing the old woman there. It must be his Mom. 

"My name is Beatrice and this is my neighbor Joey," she said. "He 
insisted on stopping when he saw you struggling with the tire." "I am 
grateful for his help," I said. "Me, too!" she said with a laugh. "Joey 
takes me to visit my husband. We had to place him in a nursing home and 
it's about 30 minutes away from where I live. So, every Monday, Wednesday 
and Friday, we have a date!" She laughed and shook her head. "We're the 
remake of the Odd Couple," Joey said as he joined in laughing. 

"Joey, that's incredible what you do for her. I would never have guessed, 
well, ah, you know I"--I stumbled with the words. "I know; People who look 
like me don't do nice things." he said. Silence. I really felt uncomfortable. 
I never believed that I judged people by the way they dressed. I was angry 
with myself for being so stupid. 

"Joey is a great kid. I'm not the only one he helps. He's a volunteer at 
our church. He also works with the kids in the learning center at the low 
income housing unit in our town," said Beatrice. "I'm a tutor" Joey said 
quietly as he stared at my car. Silence again played a part now in a moment 
of reflection rather than the uncomfortable feeling that I had insulted 
someone. He was right. What he wore on the outside was a reflection of 
the world as he saw it. 

What he wore on the inside was the spirit of giving, caring and loving the 
world he wanted to see. The rain stopped and Joey and I changed the tire. 
I tried to offer him money and of course he refused it. As we shook hands I 
began to apologize for my stupidity. He said, "I experience that same 
reaction often. I actually thought about changing the way I look. But then 
I saw this as an opportunity to make a point. So I'll leave you with the 
same question I ask everyone who takes time to know me...

"If Jesus returned tomorrow and walked among us again, would you recognize 
Him by what He wore, or by what He did?"

By Bob Perks


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