Chance Encounter

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Staring down at the limp rubber spread out like melted butter from the weight of the car Norman Kemp knew he was not going any further. There he stood, 22 years old with a life changing meeting he was going to miss because he was on the side of an old gravel road he didn't know in an area he wasn't familiar with and a car that had a flat. The amount of frustration that was boiling inside of him was immeasurable. A few weeks prior Norman had taken out the spare tire and jack from the trunk of his car to make room to carry more equipment and books. In his efforts to make his current situation more efficient he was paying the price of his self-inflicted impatience.

He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his cell phone. A few swipes of his thumb unlocked the screen to show that the best phone he could buy was worth very little when there was no signal. Zero bars, no way to contact a tow truck or to call ahead to inform his tardiness. Nothing.

The gravel road he now found himself on was an attempt of a shortcut, a route that was supposed to take 30 minutes off his trip. According to his map this route bypassed around several traffic bottlenecks but what it didn't show was how remote it truly was or showed the amount of potholes that would disable anything less than a 4x4 pickup truck if it was driven over. Stretching to the horizon in both directions the unkempt, rough road was as remote as it could get. Miles of trees with a scattering of open grass fields stretched on both sides of the road.

He leaned against the hood of the car. Looking to his left and right the road offered no simple solution in either direction. Waiting for someone to drive by may take hours he didn't have but those hours could be spent walking, but he doesn't recall seeing anything resembling a house or farm for miles form where he came from. If he had only stayed on the interstate and not ventured off the planned route he wouldn't be stranded in the middle of nowhere.

An hour passed and Norman could feel his future tick away with each minute. The in the distance on the horizon from the direction he came there was a small glimmer of light. Then another. A dim dot bounced up and down along the ground with a faint brown cloud of dust rising behind it. A wave of relief flushed over Norman as he realized a car was heading his way. Standing tall he brushed out wrinkles in his slacks, adjusted his belt and straightened his navy blue blazer and began to wave.

The car slowed and stopped behind Norman's. Stepping out of the driver's side door was an older gentleman, a well trimmed silver beard surrounded a polite smile. An English style round cap with a small brim sat upon his head. Norman thought to himself that this man could easily be one of his professors. Behind the driver in the backseat was the silhouette of another figure, hard to see through the sun reflecting off the windshield.

"Good Morning." the man said as he approached the car.

Norman was not in the mood for pleasantries, however there was no choice but to put on a fake smile and do whatever he could to get assistance. He reached out his hand, hoping the stranger would meet him halfway in a shake, "Good morning, thank you for stopping."

A firm grip and a quick shake of the clasped hands the man continued, "Tough luck today I see. These roads back here can be unforgiving. Is there anything I can do?"

A rush of relief flowed through Norman, "Actually yes there is sir."

"Sir? Where are my manners? Stanley Wagner is my name and you are... ?"

"Norman Kemp, please to meet you." Stanley nodded back as Norman continued. "I am desperately late of a very important appointment and I do not have any signal on my phone to call for a tow truck. Do you think you could take me to a service station or in an area where I can call for one?"

"Sounds like you are in quite the hurry."


"If I may ask, where is your appointment at? There isn't much out here, what brought you out this far?"

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