A friend in need

(Unsplash / Ross Parmly)

I hated to make the call since I needed a favor with little notice, but I phoned the neighbor anyway. He has long been so gracious and never hesitates to ask if he can ever help, as we often pass in the parking area.

Yes, while I hated to call him, I was in a real pinch this time. He's the first one who came to mind. Jack will say yes, I said to myself.

So I waited until early evening to be sure that I wouldn't disturb him and his wife having dinner. He picked up on the second ring and I thought to myself — this is a good sign, since I wanted to get Jack directly.

After the usual pleasantries, I thanked him for offering to help me so many times and I never accepted in the past, so was his offer still good? "Of course," he boomed heartily. "What can I do for you?"

I apologized for calling him on just two days' notice, but I explained that I was headed to an out-of-town meeting and originally a friend was going to pick me up for the airport, but that changed at the last minute. So I wondered if he was available instead. That was the good news. The bad news was that the flight left on Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m.

I cringed on the other end of the phone, thinking that I had no right to barge into his weekend and at such a ridiculously early hour besides. But you don't know Jack.

With no hesitation, he said, "So if your flight is at 6:30 a.m., you need to be there by 5 a.m., so we should leave here at 4:15 a.m. I think I'll just pack my bag, too, and when I drop you off, I'll just keep driving on the back roads all the way to Florida. At that hour, there won't be much traffic. I don't need to get down there until November, so if I leave now and take my time, I can enjoy the countryside. Maybe Marilyn will go along, too. You betcha I'll take you and I'm glad to do it. Make sure this is one of many requests to come, you hear?"

"Yes, Jack, I hear. And thank you s-o-o-o much."

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]