What Kindness Means to Me: Caitlin Hayes

“Give me a Brake!”

Caitlin Hayes

It was my first year on my own

It had to be close to one hundred degrees outside, and my little 1994 Ford Taurus didn’t have A/C. I pulled into the Kirkwood parking lot and went to class. When I came out, my car wouldn’t start, so I called the nearest auto shop and they came to tow my car. I found a ride home, and the mechanic said they would be in touch once they figured out what was wrong and how to fix it.

The next day, I found a ride to class and got a call from the auto shop on my way out of the building. “We need you to come down to the shop so we can show you what is going on,” they said. I couldn’t find a ride to the shop, but it was just down the street so I figured I could manage. I walked in and they showed me the damage. “…It’s a lot to fix and will be pricey, but we can fix it if you want.”

I panicked. I was broke, my family couldn’t help me financially, and it felt like I was out of options. “Would I have to quit school? My job? I don’t think I could find someone to give me a ride every day or pay for a taxi every day! Would I have to move home?” I thought to myself.

I told them I couldn’t afford it, but I just needed some time to see what I could do…

The manager told me they don’t usually do payment plans, but they would be willing to work with me. It would take some time and I had to get a second job, but I was so grateful for them being so kind and understanding. It relieved some of my stress, but I still worried about how I would pay it off in time, and what I would have to do. I came out to get my car, and I noticed a little note folded in the cup holder. I read it, and it is still the kindest thing someone has ever done for me. The note said,

“I know you were having some trouble with the cost of what we had to do, but I noticed your brakes are in really terrible shape also. I don’t want you to have to worry about adding that cost to your plate, so if you would like, please give me a call and I will change your brakes for you for free.”

At a time when I felt so lost and helpless, that mechanic genuinely cared about how I felt and sincerely wanted to help. By being so kind, he changed my entire outlook on how my life was going; I was hopeful.


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