The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere on Christmas Eve in years, since his wife had passed away. It and Christmas day were just like any day to him. He didn’t hate Christmas; he just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.
Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger “If you’re busy, I’ll just go.” “Not without something hot in your belly.” George said. He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. “It ain’t fancy, but it’s hot and tasty. Stew … made it myself. When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”
Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell. “Excuse me, be right back,” George said. There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. “My car quit and my wife is having baby any minute.”
George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead. “You ain’t going anywhere in this thing. Wait here.” George said as he turned away.
“But Mister, please help …” The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. “Here, take my truck,” he said. “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.”
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. “Glad I gave ‘em the truck, their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new . . .” George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man was gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. Well, at least he got something hot in his belly, George thought.
George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered that the block hadn’t cracked; it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to himself. So he put a new hose on.
Those tires ain’t gonna get ‘em through the winter either. He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway.
As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.”
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. Pressure to stop the bleeding, he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anything,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.