PAGE THREE Random Acts

A Good Turn Deserves Another; A Wrong Turn Can Prompt One

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

At the end of September, I was returning home from a day trip to see relatives in Williamsburg. I was on the cellphone with my husband, which I usually don't do when my car is in motion. Then I realized that I had made a wrong turn in the neighborhood. As I made a U-turn, I ended up nose down in a drainage ditch. Fortunately, I had stopped the car short of my front end hitting the bottom of the concrete ditch. The ditch had no caution signs and was hidden by long grass.

When I got out of my car, I saw that it was tilted to its left side, with the right wheels in the air. I was shaken up, but not injured. Several people stopped, while others drove by, trying to contain their laughter. A young woman stopped, placed her toddler in a stroller and helped me calm down. With her assistance, I was able to call for a tow truck.

Meanwhile, several men were conferring near my car. They said they thought they could get my car out. The plan was to put two very big men in the opened trunk, two at the front to lift and push, and me behind the wheel to drive the car out. I was still shaking too much to consider driving, so the organizer of the plan volunteered to get behind the wheel. It took a minute for the front tire to catch hold, but when it did, the car came out of the ditch. I thanked and hugged everyone.

I did not take any pictures of the incident. But if I had taken pictures, the pictures would have been of the people who helped me, not of the car balanced on its side. I was lucky in many ways. The car sustained just a few scratches underneath, and I was extremely fortunate to have been helped by some wonderful neighbors in Williamsburg.

-- Mary Lipsey, Springfield

A Unique Customer Loyalty Program

In the early 1980s, exotic ingredients were difficult to find in the neighborhood grocery stores. There were two exceptions: the International Safeway on 12th Street NW and Larimer's Market on Connecticut Avenue a few blocks north of Dupont Circle.

I was throwing a dinner for my friends, some of whom were new vegetarians, to be held after work. I had purchased all the ingredients and done some advance prep so I could throw everything together at the last minute before my guests arrived.

At lunchtime, however, I realized with horror that I had forgotten to take the phyllo dough, a main ingredient, out of the freezer and that it would never be thawed in time to use it for dinner.

I worked in a government office downtown, so I raced to the International Safeway, but they did not have any phyllo.

I was desperate. Then, suddenly, a wild idea came to me. With trepidation at my boldness, I called Larimer's, explained my predicament and made my proposal: Would they take a package of phyllo dough out of their freezer now so that I could stop by en route home to buy it for immediate use at dinner?

To my relief and joy (and more than a little astonishment), the manager immediately agreed, would not even take my credit card number and said to come by at 6 p.m. and it would be thawed and ready. I did, and Larimer's saved the day. From then until they closed several years later, I was among their most loyal customers!

-- Carolyn Swift, Washington

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