The Good Samaritan Dentist

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We all do stupid stuff on occasion – some of us a bit more frequently than others.

And it’s particularly embarrassing when some dumb thing that you do leaves you in a tight spot that requires asking for help to get out of it.

That’s exactly the sort of situation I found myself in this past Friday.

As this story goes, my mom needed a special kind of root canal that involved drilling through her dental bridge, and as her regular dentist doesn’t do that particular procedure, she was referred to Dr. James Wilson, an endodontic specialist with his own practice in Jackson.

So not wanting my elderly mother to have to drive herself home after an extensive dental procedure, I took off work on Friday, the day of her appointment, to serve as her personal driver.

And it all went well to start off. We hit the road at around 10 a.m. in Mom’s Camry, made good time, took all the right turns (and a few left ones), and arrived at Dr. Wilson’s office with about 15 minutes to spare.

While Mom was getting her teeth worked on, I was left to hang out in the reception area, and, oddly, there were no magazines or reading materials of any kind in this particular waiting room to keep my restless brain occupied. Bored and woozy from breathing in my own fumes through a mask, I decided to go outside where I could shed the viral facial filter and have some freedom of movement.

After taking a stroll along Carriage House Drive, I ended up in Mom’s car with the seat leaned back, the engine off, the window down, and the radio playing. I might have even napped out for bit. But, most critically, I failed to notice that the car’s AC was also on and drawing some serious charge out of the battery.

I didn’t even think about it. I’m used to my Prius with its multiple batteries. You’d have to leave the radio and the AC and the headlights on overnight to run the power out of that thing. Not so with Mom’s car. It didn’t take long at all. And I didn’t even realize how bad I had screwed up until Mom was done with her dental visit and we were both buckled up in the car ready to head to the house.

If you’ve done a good bit of driving in your life, then, at one time or another, you’ve probably heard that dreaded droning/clicking sound when you turn the ignition. And you’ve experienced that sinking feeling when you hear it. That’s exactly what we heard, and that’s exactly what I was feeling at that moment.

I instantly realized what was up and that we were now victims of my own stupidity.

Honestly, I was tempted to play innocent and pretend I had no idea why the car wasn’t cranking. But my better angels took over and I came clean with Mom about what I had done. So stuck in the middle of Jackson, an hour and a half from home, and not really knowing anybody in that neck of the woods, I found myself knocking on the front door of Dr. Wilson’s office, which had just been locked up for the day.

Now I was expecting to maybe get a reference and phone number for a local tow service from the receptionist. Or maybe, if we were lucky, somebody there might lend us some jumper cables and access to their own car’s battery to get ours’ cranked.

But I wasn’t expecting that Dr. Wilson would have a couple of battery chargers stowed right there in his office – or that he would personally come out and hook everything up himself – or that, when the first charger (which was powered by its own internal charge) didn’t seem to be working, he would go get the other charger that plugs in and some extension cords – or that he would go through the trouble of unbolting the bolted cover over the building’s outside power outlet and then hook it all up again himself – or that he would kindly let me and Mom come back in and stay in the reception area for about 20 minutes while the battery charged up.

Thankfully, it did get charged, and the engine fired up the first time I tried it. We thanked Dr. Wilson many times, got on the road, and I didn’t turn that car off until we were sitting in our own driveway.

But if the car had not cranked – if it had turned out that something else was wrong with it – I have no doubt that Dr. Wilson would have continued to help us out and do whatever he needed to do to see us home safely. He just came across as that kind of guy – you know, the kind of guy Jesus was talking about in His parable about the Good Samaritan.

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but thank you again, Dr. Wilson. And I pray the Good Lord blesses you richly for your kindness and concern for a couple of people you hardly know and will probably never meet again.

And while some people might think it’s no big deal, I think it is a pretty big deal. We all screw up, things go wrong, and we all find ourselves in need of help from time to time. And it’s those people who step up and take the time and trouble to provide that assistant that keeps this world turning and all our boats afloat.

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