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Binghamton Man Commits Random Act of Kindness, Changes Stranger’s Day

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I’ll never forget the time that my car died while I was sitting in traffic in Cincinnati.  I couldn’t get it to start to save my life and I wished that my seat would open up and swallow me. I didn’t know what to do and instead of just calmly going around me (there was plenty of room), angry drivers laid on their horn before going around me and flipping me off. 

When Hawk listener Julie Wesser-Steacy shared her story of how a stranger changed her day, I knew I had to share it with you. It’s so easy to get caught up in the garbage of life. So many people are in a hurry to get here and there. So many people have an agenda.  So many people only care about themselves. To know that there are still good Samaritans lingering puts a big smile on my face.

On Friday November 22nd around 4:45pm, Julie was traveling on Route 17 East right in the heart of the blasting zone. She’d just come over the 201 overpass from Old Vestal Road, traveling from Cincinnatus to Vestal to pay her NYSEG bill.

Julie knew she was running low on gas, but thought she’d be able to squeeze a couple more miles out of her tank. She had $60 to cover gas and groceries for the week and was trying to make it to Front street where she planned to get gas and then hit up Aldi.

As the three lanes narrowed to two and the traffic slowed nearly to a stop, Julie’s car started to sputter. She put on her turn signal to get over into the slow lane. Not one single car would allow her in. She finally was able to dart over and immediately, as if she’d turned the key to the off position, her car died.

That was it. The lanes were so narrow that as tractor trailers flew by, the shook Julie’s entire car. The car directly behind her was so close to her bumper that she couldn’t move.

It was getting darker by the second and Julie was scared of being hit from behind or a multiple car pileup. She crawled to her passenger seat and got out, digging out her cell to call her motor club.

When she got through to someone at the motor club, they told her there wasn’t a service station anywhere in the area that delivers gas and asked her to hold (while she was standing on the highway!) while they searched for her. 

While Julie waited, the cars behind her were blowing their horns and darting out one at a time into the fast lane. She didn’t know if she should hold on the phone, start running to a gas station or call 911. Suddenly a man’s voice said, “come on sweetie, we need to move quickly, we don’t have much time.”

Julie turned to find a man in his late 40’s. He looked like a kind man on his way home from work, but she was still nervous. Julie explained she’d run out of gas. The man wasted no time, speaking gently and explained he’d tow her car. The man stepped out and directed cars around Julie’s broken down car. The traffic was moving so quickly that she feared he was taking his life in his own hands. He then pulled his small, older, fading, red Chevy in front of her car. Within a minute he had her car hooked to his truck, gave her thorough instructions, and told her not to be afraid. It was as though he could read her body language. 

Once they reached a gas station, the man offered to pay for Julie’s gas , but she wouldn’t let him instead offering to pay for his gas, which he wouldn’t take. The man had to push Julie’s car from in front of the pumps and run to a nearby service station to borrow a power pack to jump start her battery and refused to take a penny from Julie. 

Julie doesn’t know much about the man other than that his name is Phil and that’s he a modern day hero- an ordinary angel who she thanks from the bottom of her heart.

Julie was in a horrible situation. A very vulnerable situation. Over 100 people passed by her that night. There could have been so many outcomes, but Jullie says “God sent me him, so wherever you are Phil, thank you!”

I’d like to echo Julie in saying thank you to you, Phil. Thank you for helping a stranger when it would have been so much easier to look away. The world needs more people like you.

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