ANGELIC TIRE SERVICE
Reports of mysterious people coming to the aid of travelers in need of help on the road, like Deb in the previous story, seem to be a common theme in the volumes of angelic encounters. Why this is so is anyone's guess. But Carol also had such an encounter back in the January of 1984, she tells us, while she was driving to the top of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee late one evening.
"I frequently went to the scenic overlook late at night, just to take in the city lights and have a quiet moment," Carol says. "I had recently lost my infant daughter, Jessie. She died in her sleep a week before her third month of life. I was devastated. Her birthday was January 8, and this night was her birthday. She died on March 31 of the same year. I had no faith in God anymore. I was very angry that my child was taken, and was utterly convinced that 'God' was merely a fantasy devised to manipulate the masses."
Anyone who has ever been to the top of Lookout Mountain knows that there are absolutely no houses up there, so this is not a place where Carol would prefer to have car trouble. But she did. One of her tires was flat. It was about 11:30 p.m. and she had no spare tire to get her back on the road. Unless someone came along, Carol was seriously considering just staying in the car until daylight. She became hopeful when she caught a glimpse in her rear-view mirror of a small white blur advancing in her direction. It didn't look like an auto headlight, but it might be help nonetheless. Carol got out of her car and looked down the road, seeing the white blur getting closer. Not knowing what it was, she began to feel slightly apprehensive.
In the dark, the blur slowly came into focus. It was a white dress shirt worn by an elderly African-American man. As he approached Carol, he smiled broadly. And Carol was astonished to see that he was rolling an auto tire in front of him!
"I thought you might need this," the gentleman said with the most beautiful baritone voice Carol had ever heard.
"Wh- where did you come from?" she asked.
"This won't take long, miss," he answered in that melodious voice. Carol felt a calmness overtake her apprehension, and she felt completely safe with this stranger. She thought it was odd, however, that he was only in shirtsleeves on this very cold night; he seemed unaffected by the temperature. Carol was shivering even with a coat on. She asked him if he was cold and if he had a coat. He merely replied that the cold didn't bother him. The man proceeded to change the flat - incredibly, it fit her car - threw the old tire in the trunk and warned Carol that two other tires would blow out if she didn't get them replaced soon. Carol was so grateful.
"I kept trying to give him a $20 bill," she says, even though it was all she had until payday, three days away. "He kept saying that he didn't need the money and that I should keep it. I stuck it into his pocket on the sly as he was putting the flat in the trunk. I know that the money was in his pocket, as I made sure to slip it deeply enough so that it wouldn't fall out before he found it later."
The elderly man closed the trunk and bade Carol goodnight.
"Thank you so much!" she said to him. "My name is Carol. What's your name?"
The stranger smiled and said that his name was Gabriel, but that all his friends call him Gabe. Carol shook his hand and offered him a ride, but he declined, saying that he could get home just fine and that she shouldn't worry about him. He then added in a soft, clear voice, "You'll be just fine, Carol. Jessie is okay and you will have other children."
Carol hugged him and sobbed, "Thank you, Gabe. I needed to hear that."
He hugged her back and said, "You need to get home now."
"Are you sure you'll be alright?"
"Just fine, darlin'. You get goin' now."
Carol thanked him again, got in the car and closed the door. She rolled down her window to ask Gabe one more time if he would like a ride down the road... but he was already gone. Carol made a U-turn and headed back down the mountain with the high beams on, hoping to see him. She drove for about two or three miles before making another U-turn to see if he had gone in the other direction, but she never found him.
"Then I began to realize that he actually said that 'Jessie' was okay..." Carol says. "How did he know my daughter's name? In light of this revelation, I immediately stopped the car and turned on the interior light to check my purse. The $20 bill was back in my wallet!
"I sincerely think that Gabe was a guardian angel. Why would anyone be rolling a tire all the way up the mountain late at night in only a white dress shirt and black dress pants? There were no other cars on that road, I am sure."
And what of Gabe's prediction? "I have since remarried, and have two wonderful sons," Carol reports. "Thanks, Gabe, wherever you are, for giving me faith and hope when I needed it the most. I will never forget you."