Thank God for the kindness of strangers.

Dolly before heading home to Indiana.

I took to the road in late August bound for Nashville, Tennessee and a Radical Results workshop presented by The Barefoot Executive, Carrie Wilkerson. Pumped up about learning business-building tips, I whizzed down I-65 to Music City in the best little car I’ve ever owned–a green, 2003 Toyota Prius, fondly dubbed “Sparky.”

Three years free and clear of a car loan, I vowed to drive Sparky until she died.  And…I did.

Dashboard idiot lights, as I call them, don’t usually scare me, but this was different. Sparky was toast.

As daunting as it is to break down 10 miles from your destination in the noontime summer sun on an interstate bridge with tractor trailers whizzing by at 70 m.p.h., I resolved, “NO TEARS.” I summoned the Girl Scout in me.

Safely buckled into my sweltering car, praying that I didn’t get rear-ended by one of dozens of trucks rounding the curve behind me, I picked up my cell and started dialing. “Where to tow Sparky?”

Beaman Toyota sits on a ridge overlooking downtown Nashville and is mere blocks from Music Row and 16th Avenue that Lacy J. Dalton sang about when I was a kid. This is where Barry Lee works. For 25 years he’s helped out folks stuck on the side of the road. He loves to talk and he LOVES his job.

Traveling alone as a woman isn’t a big deal until something goes wrong that leaves you vulnerable. Whether it was the decibel of those truck tires so loud over the phone or something in my voice, Barry bent backwards to make sure I was okay. His was the friendly, southern voice that kept my panic at bay as I waited on the edge of southbound I-65. Heck, he even called the county sheriff who came to sit with me until the wrecker arrived.

As it turns out, a Prius trans-axel is the equivalent to a transmission and Sparky’s was shot. I was in a predicament and Barry, whether he knew it or not, made the situation much easier to take.

In fact, Sparky’s final days would have been far tougher if it weren’t for ALL the guys at Beaman Toyota.

Jim and Dick chauffeured me past converted houses on Music Row and the studio where Elvis recorded, then pointed out Taylor Swift’s high-rise apartment. (Coolest thing ever for this country girl!)

Poor Clint Pewitt and his crew cracked Sparky’s chest and tried their best, to no avail. “Engrave the headstone,” I thought. “It’s time to buy a new car.”

Brett Bowen’s sales desk occupies prime Nashville skyline real estate. I spent the next afternoon with this young man toggling between the heat of a used Prius lot and recuperating in the A/C. Never once did I get the feeling the deal would be better struck by my husband. Never once was there pressure. Brett was exactly the salesman I needed for this crazy mission to buy a car in a day so I could get back home again to Indiana. He and the money guy, Rick Sellers, organized the chaos in my mind. It was tiring, but it was painless.

Cruising home the next day in my new-to-me 2008, “arrest-me” red Prius, I put the stereo through its paces singing along to Nashville’s finest and missed Brett’s call checking up on me. Later, I picked up that voicemail and it dawned on me—“Thank God for the kindness of strangers.” They tipped the scale away from fiasco on this trip.

Compassion and empathy for another person’s circumstances seems rare these days. That’s why it’s so important to share the story when a friend, a stranger or even a company shows it.

These folks deserve a shout-out and all of us, whether we realize it, NEED to hear their stories. It does a heart good to know these folks exist and I will always look more fondly upon Nashville for my time spent at Beaman’s.

Who knows, maybe I’ll bring “Dolly” by for a free oil change. Yeah, that’s right–“Dolly.” She’s a little flashy on the outside, but altogether country on the inside. Just like me!

P.S. By the way, I made the seminar and LOVED it. Check out Carrie’s new book, The Barefoot Executive.

Leave the world better than you found it!