“I’d buy a flashlight…”
Walmart. It was ten minutes to eight. The auto center closed at eight. Could they help us? The manager looked at the truck and examined the tires closely.
If he could get the ticket in the system before eight o’clock, they would do it. Timothy was a young man working the register in the auto department. I thanked him for the help he and his manager were trying to give us.
He looked at me and said, “That’s God. I’ve seen him turn folks down.”
“Are you a believer?,” I asked. He said he was, and began to tell me how he’d seen God work in his life many times in the past couple of weeks. Timothy had just moved his family to Staunton from Petersburg. He told me that businesses were leaving Petersburg and there were heroine dealers on the street corners. He said, “I told my wife we are not raising our son in this town.”
So they moved to Staunton and lived in a run-down motel for a couple of weeks. He interviewed for the job at WalMart. He got it. A church helped them with expenses. They had been able to move to a better location. He was expecting his first paycheck within the week. It’s little wonder he recognized God’s hand at work in my situation.
The manager was back. After checking his stock, he said he had only one tire of the sort I needed, LTs. He put that one on, replacing the one that had failed. Then he told me that I might be able to make it to Richmond on the remaining tires — if I drove slowly. Then he debated with himself about the best route to take. The state route 250 would allow me to go slowly, but it was curvier and it was getting dark. I-64 was straight. Either way it was a risk. He suggested I buy a flashlight. We bought one, along with extra batteries, and paid for the tire.
Timothy clocked out and we went our separate ways. We thanked God for getting us to Walmart and for the new tire, but we had a decision to make.
I thought about it over dinner at Waffle House. Hannah was nervous about trying to drive back. I was nervous too. I didn’t relish the idea of becoming stranded on one of those long exit-less stretches of I-64 and sleeping in the pickup all night. I decided to stay in Staunton that evening and try again Sunday to get the rest of the tires changed. Hannah was relieved. So was I.
We drove slowly through the country roads to Motel 6 — not fancy, but better than the truck.