RESCUE ON THE TRACKS
Tis only when they spring to heaven that angels reveal themselves
Carol Toussaint was driving her large station wagon across
Arlington Heights, Illinois, about five p.m. one hot summer
weekday. She was going to pick up one son from his guitar lesson,
and her other youngsters, Dave and Katie, were in the backseat.
It was past the time when she should have started dinner, and her
mind was on getting home as soon as possible.
The traffic light was green. Carol turned left off the busy
highway up a little incline and onto the railroad tracks that
intersect the downtown area. But before she could complete her
turn and travel through the railroad crossing, her engine
suddenly died. She was stuck - blocking several lanes, with her
front wheels resting in the track grooves.
Carol tried again and again to start the car, but the
ignition wouldn't catch. The traffic light changed, cars began to
honk, brakes screeched as rush-hour travelers attempted to go
around her and avoid plowing into one another. Dave and Katie,
hot, confined, and sensing their mother's distress, started to
complain. It was a driver's worst nightmare.
Suddenly a young man wearing a white shirt and tie loped
casually over to Carol's open window. Dave, then only about five,
thinks the man got out of a small brown car before approaching
"Did you know that you're in danger here?" the man asked
softly, with an air of complete peace and tranquility - in the
midst of the rapidly snarling traffic. "I sure am," Carol
responded. "My husband's going to kill me for being late and not
having dinner ready! If one of these drivers doesn't do it
"No, I didn't mean that," the young man went on. "There's a train
due through here in about half a minute. I'm going to have to
move the car for you.." Carol had forgotten that at this time of
day commuter trains whizzed through the crossing at frequent
intervals. Some stopped, others didn't. And yes, now she noticed
that there were several people standing at the station a block or
two away. But even if this coming train was due to stop, it
couldn't avoid hitting her - at this point it would still be
traveling too fast!
Carol isn't sure what she did next - she was in such a panic
that she can't remember. But she'll never forget the reaction of
the serene young man. Nonchalastly he walked to the front of her
car and gave it a little one-handed push. The huge station wagon
dislodged easily from the track grooves, and as the crossing
gates came down and warning bells began to clang, it rolled back
across the tracks and safely over the little incline, where it
again came to a stop.
Almost immediately, the train roared past. Stunned, Carol
realized that, without the young man's help, her family would
have been hit and killed. But where was he? The train had blocked
her view for only a moment. How could he have disappeared in this
open area without her seeing him?
By this time several passers-by and commuters were
approaching Carol's car. "Need help, lady?" they asked. "Maybe we
can push the car across the street to the gas station. ..."
How odd, Carol thought. No one was running or upset in any way.
They all acted as if her car had stalled where it now was. No one
seemed to realize that she and the children had just been
rescued. Hadn't they witnessed her close call, or the young man?
But her children had. "Who was that guy who pushed us, Mom?" Dave
asked from the backseat. "Where did he go?" If the man had
arrived in a small brown car, it had somehow disappeared, even
though traffic was snarled all around them.
"I have no idea, Dave," Carol said, puzzled. It was certainly a
mystery. And it would take several days of musing before she
began to realize just what had happened.
One commuter stood in the middle of the intersection and
directed cars around the scene, while another went to alert the
gas station. Mechanics and others pushed Carol's car down the
rest of the incline to the station. Although the man in the white
shirt had dislodged the large vehicle with one hand, it took
eight people to move it all the way across the highway.
Carol's husband didn't get his dinner on time that night. He
received a far greater gift.
Entered on this Website November 2007