Tom here. Just a quick story to be told:
As some of you may know, Global Routes spends a good chunk of time on the road during the winter and spring each year. We spend time visiting GR families, hiring staff members and travelling to different schools around New England, spreading the good word. Friday was one of those typical days.
I was due to attend a summer program and gap year event hosted by a school just outside of Portsmouth, NH and gave myself plenty of time (this, you’ll realize, turns out to be a fantastic decision down the line) to make the journey, park and meet & greet etc. before it kicked off. As I was making my was down a busy stretch of i-95, I heard my (usually) trusty 1999 Jeep Cherokee cough and choke, looking down and remembering that the gas gauge hasn’t worked since Barack Obama was pledged in for a second term, it could only mean one thing, it was bone dry. Rookie mistake on my part, but because of a busy Global Routes schedule, driving rental cars mostly and my neglect in remembering the mileage when the last full tank was, I completely forgot to put any gas in over the last few days. That is when I had to guide the old clunker over a few lanes as the power steering started to lock up and wave a few hands of apology to busy city folks that needed to get to point B AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!
Sighing a deep breath, I knew that there was a gas station about a mile up the road and Janis the Jeep would have to hang tight for a short while as I made the jog up the busiest interstate in the country. Preparing myself like an college athlete about to participate in the NFL combine, I locked the Jeep up and I commenced, being pushed by the 80mph turbulence of passing tractor trailers and passing cars. That is when do-gooder number 1 appeared, in his beautiful Lexus SUV. “Let me guess, that was your ’99 Jeep back there, right?” a gentleman yelled next to me as he pulled up along side. “Yes!” I shouted back over the noise of the traffic. “Hop in, I’m on my way to the bus station (not far away) but, I’ll take you to the gas station straight after”. Agreeing and hoping into the back seat, I was brought up to be wary of strangers as a boy, but as a grown man on a mission, I jumped at the opportunity for help. This guardian angel was named Dan, a real estate investor local to the seacoast of New Hampshire. As we dropped off his lawyer at the bus station (he visits once a week from LA, which gave me/gives you an idea as to how big-time Dan was), he explained to me that about 20 years previous, he also owned a Jeep Cherokee that had a faulty gas gauge, but managed to run out a lot more often that I did. We proceeded to the gas station, to get a can and emergency rations to take back to the Jeep.
As we walked over to the car maintenance aisle of the store, a dreaded sinking feeling hit the pit of my stomach. There was a large empty section of shelving next to the oils and washer fluid bottles with a sign saying “Half Off Gas Cans!”. They were out. As Dan and I were discussing where on earth the next gas station was, an older lady interrupted us. Doris (I don’t know her real name) over heard our conversation and figured out our problems. While Dan and I were talking, she went to her car and brought out her emergency supply of Gas from the trunk of her own car. Doris handed me the can and asked if I could please get it back to her before she finished her shift at 5pm. “Of course! You’re a wonderful person!” I told her before giving her an imaginary hug and Dan and I hit the road once more. Telling me a quick fire round of his life story as we drove the few miles back to the Jeep, Dan insisted that he stayed with me until the car was up and running. After a quick drink, Janis was up and running again and the Tom and Dan convoy hit the road, heading to the gas station. I returned the can to Doris (full, don’t worry) and said my Thanks and goodbyes to Dan who was probably late for saving some other citizen in need and carried on my slightly delayed journey to the school. Knowing that this school in particular has notoriously rare parking and giving it was a parent’s day, I was in for a challenge…
As I made a few passes of the winding roads around the premises, I got a wave from a parent. “Hi, I’m Kathy, that is my car right there if you need that spot. I’m done for the day and I know how tricky parking is here!”. Kathy then smiled and jogged to her car, reversed out and handed me a sticker that still had three hours worth of parking on it. With my prime real estate parking spot, I gathered my belongings and walked over to the building where the event was being held with purpose, as I knew that it wasn’t far away from starting. Noticing that most people had arrived and set up their booths, I had to get myself sorted to allow time to say my hellos to everyone before it started.
With a sweaty brow, I was ready early, much to my surprise given the morning I had. As the hour went by, I had some wonderful conversations with students, professors and fellow educators about different summer programs and telling all the good word about global Routes. Towards the end, I was asked a couple questions by a large group of parents: “Why do your programs last so long? What is the point of a homestay? I’m scared for my child to be away from home…” As I opened my mouth to answer them, a gentleman who was peacefully reading our catalog at one end of the table beat me to it. “Are you kidding? THIS is what growing up is all about! THIS is what shapes us into real world human beings! THIS is what allows us to step outside of our comfort zones in safe and practical ways! Each time, pointing to the Global Routes logo on my t-shirt. The gentleman then took the next 10 minutes (which is kind of a long time for someone you have never met before to talk to you, without talking back) to tell us all about his spontaneous travels around Europe and Asia in his youth and how it made him into the person he is today. How he has encouraged his children to take responsible risks in choosing schools, summer plans and hobbies that are out of their comfort zones in order to shape them as young adults and broaden their minds to greater things, different cultures and how man should treat each other, all the while his crowd listened intently, taking in his every word. This mystery father then helped me with my bags and boxes back to my car, thanked me for rekindling his memories of his past and walked back off to campus.
As I drove home from the school (with a full tank of gas!), I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the people that I came across that day. Dan, my savior in a potentially dangerous situation, Doris who gave up her own leant out her own things to a stranger, Kathy, the generous mom, and to the mystery father who told such wonderful stories about why travel, home stays and stepping outside of your comfort zone inspired him to be a good person. It was a refreshing day and one with surprises around each corner. As cheesy as it sounds, I couldn’t help but compare it to Global Routes. Inspirational leaders guiding our students through their journeys and meeting selfless families during our home stays, many of whom don’t have an awful lot but, would be more than happy giving you the clothes off their own back.
Be inspired to do good in the world, as there is always someone out there that need a bit each day.