Memorial Day weekend and the days leading up to it were hot ones. In fact, May ended with an average high just half a degree shy of the record temperature in Hagerstown for the month.
As the weekend drew close, two items I ordered for my daughter had arrived to their shipping destination at a local department store. Anxious to get them, I hurried to the store to pick them up during my lunch break.
I'm not sure what made me think a 5-foot sliding board and a toddler's patio set would fit comfortably in my compact sedan.
I had to roll the toys to the car on a large rack, rather than in a shopping cart. That should've been my first clue that my purchase was more than I could handle by myself in the heat of the early afternoon sun.
But my stubborn streak reared its ugly head and I continued to my car.
I tried to fit one box in the back seat, the other in the trunk. Both were too wide to fit in the back. I folded down the back seat, and was struggling to fit the packages into the trunk when a gentleman parked in the spot next to me and asked if I could use some help.
I figured an extra set of hands would ensure I would get out of the blaring sun and back to the office on time. So I responded sheepishly, "Yeah, I could ...."
He sprung into action, grabbing the boxes and rearranging them at a variety of different angles to get them in my car. But the sliding board box was just too long to fit.
He asked me if I had a string in my car. Those who know me well realize that under normal circumstances, you can find just about anything in my vehicle. Unfortunately, though, I had just cleaned my car, so I had nothing.
He dove into his truck and pulled out a bungee cord to try to secure the slide. That didn't work either. I stood by the side of the car feeling helpless as sweat ran down my inert forehead and flew off onto this kind stranger as he worked quickly and tirelessly to get my stuff into the car.
He reached back into his truck and pulled out a long rope. He proceeded to ask me if I had a pair of scissors, which again, was a negative.
After struggling for several more minutes, he managed to secure the trunk lid to the box. I nearly burst into tears of thankfulness and despair. The man simply said, "I'm no sailor, but this knot should hold you 'til you get back home. And don't worry about this old rope. Have a happy Memorial Day weekend, ma'am."
And he was off as I stood there dumbstruck. I think I thanked him and wished him well, but I'm not sure. Suffice it to say, whatever my flustered response was, it wasn't enough.
I've been fortunate to receive many kind gestures from strangers throughout my life, particularly since becoming a single parent. But that one has to be one of the kindest and most selfless acts I've witnessed, particularly in the near-record high heat of a Hagerstown late-May afternoon.
Amy Dulebohn is a page designer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.