Two days ago I found myself in a terrifying position that made my heart stop.
My day with the girls began the same way most of our shopping days do: Eliana loves practicing with her coveted safety scissors as she cuts up scrap paper “helping mommy coupon.” In the mean time I furiously snip away, turning our living room into a field of paper land mines as I reduce coupon booklets to multitudinous stacks of precariously piled clippings. (During this process our house has at times looked like a life-sized snow globe!)
As we finished our morning routine, I made sure to bundle the girls up since the weather was on the cool side and it had started to rain. We then set out for the local grocery store and wrapped up a week’s worth of shopping. As we headed back to the car, I noticed that the clouds had parted and the rain had stopped. The temperature had risen significantly which made it uncomfortable to be dressed as warmly as we were, especially given the fact that the recent rain had greatly increased the humidity. I made a mental note that I’d have to change the girls when we returned home.
I unlocked the car, put my purse up front, loaded the groceries, and returned the shopping cart. I saved the girls for last since it was hot. I buckled the baby, shut the door and headed around to Eliana’s side when I heard a sickening click of the car lock. I tried Eliana’s door, but it was locked. I quickly tried all the other doors, but they were locked too. The keys were in my purse, along with my cell phone, all of which was in the front seat.
I had no idea how the car became locked, but my heart stopped as I started calculating how little time I would have to get the baby out. I figured given the current temperature and the fact that the shade was open on the sun roof, I wouldn’t have more than about 10 minutes before it got dangerously hot inside, especially considering that Alyssa was still bundled up in her warm outfit. I knew there was a fire department down the road a ways, but I didn’t know how long it would take them to respond to a call for help.
As I was making a split second decision on whether I was going to ask the store manager to make an emergency phone call or lend me a hammer, a young man walked up to me. He was holding a 6-month-old baby and had his wife with him. He said, “I noticed you seem to be having trouble. Are you locked out?” I told him that I was not only locked out but my baby was locked in. He immediately looked at his wife and said, “Run! Go get the tools!” She sprinted back to her car and sped off down the road. The man explained that he lived just up the road and had all manner of door-opening equipment. The woman returned in less than four minutes and began working on the door. She struggled with the various tools for about 30 seconds while the man asked me some questions about the locking mechanism. Then, out of nowhere, we were approached by a tall, powerfully built man who said he had been watching us in the parking lot. He explained that he worked for the fire department and offered to help. When he realized there was a baby in the car, he immediately took over and started manipulating the door frame. Not 30 seconds later, another man approached. He mentioned he had some kind of mechanical background and offered to lend a hand as well.
In less than five minutes, four angels had appeared out of nowhere to help open the car. Our vehicle is apparently rather tamper-resistent, for which, under any other circumstance, I would have been thankful. But even though the car put up a fight and didn’t give in easily, the fire fighter and the mechanic were able to enter the car in under five minutes.
During all the commotion, Alyssa kept perfectly calm. As it started to warm up in the car, she decided to undress herself. She managed to unfasten both shoes and remove both socks by the time they popped the lock.
And then, as quickly as they had appeared, they all disappeared again, unassumingly returning to their day as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I was able to catch the couple with the baby before they left and offer them some compensation, but they flatly refused. I never would have expected such an overwhelming show of concern and compassion in such a big (and sometimes cold) city like Houston.
Two verses have been persistently swirling around my mind on a rather consistent basis the last few weeks:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” ~Psalms 46:1
“The LORD is waiting to be merciful to you, and will rise up to show you compassion.” ~Isaiah 30:18
Thank you, THANK YOU, God, for providing help before I even had the mind to ask. Thank you for being an ever-present help, and for showing us such instant, overwhelming compassion!
And to the four of you who took the time to notice a family in trouble and stop to help: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I will pay it forward. May you be richly blessed.
Side note: That same day, the car locked itself twice again after the initial incident (once while I was holding the key fob in my hand and I hadn’t pressed any buttons). The car hasn’t done it again since that day. I have no idea what caused it to suddenly start locking the doors on its own. We just received a letter in the mail regarding a recall on our vehicle due to electrical issues. Perhaps this is the problem? Who knows. Either way, I will certainly not be leaving my keys in the car again!