Christine Mulcauer's postal service shift ended about three a.m. on Christmas Eve morning and despite the freezing cold, she decided to stop at the all-night grocery store on her way home to buy ingredients for Christmas cookies. "My family calls me 'The Christmas Kid'," Christine says. "I am really into the season and love making cookies." When she came out with her packages, however, she found that she had run over some broken glass, and a tire was flat. Now what to do? Christine had no cell phone and the pay phone in the lot was out of order. Certainly she did not want to walk the half-mile to the diner at the corner. "I decided to drive the car anyway," she says. But the car lurched and rattled, and the steering wheel jumped in her hands. Asking the angels for protection, she walked to the diner.
"When I got there, I pulled out my wallet which had the phone number of Jessie, my regular mechanic's towing service," she says. "A woman answered the phone and took the information down and told me to hold on. A man's voice came over the phone next and he asked me to repeat my location and that he would be there as soon as possible. In the meantime, a patrol car had pulled up at the diner. The patrolman walked in, wondering about my car which I had left on the shoulder of the road a way up with the flashers on. I told him it was my car and that I was getting a tow truck now. He made sure that I was confident that help was coming and then left."
All routine so far. She would be home soon, Christine reassured herself. Soon a bright blue unmarked truck pulled up in front of the diner. Christine immediately went out to meet the driver, and get into his truck. "Normally I'm cautious," she says, "and I did think it strange that there were no name or markings on the truck, but I instinctively knew he had been sent to me. We drove back to my car on the shoulder, he hitched it up and we agreed he would tow it to my mechanic, Jessie."
Of course Jessie's garage was locked, but Christine saw the tow truck driver write a note of explanation, and stuck it through the key drop. "All set," he told Christine. "Would you like a ride home now?"
"I sure would," Christine said. It had been a long night, but everything had worked out. Even the tow truck driver, although quiet, was a reassuring presence. Christine felt certain she had met him before, but her foggy brain was too tired to think about it. "How much is the tow?" she asked.
"Oh, work it out with Jessie," he said, pulling up to her driveway.
Christine got out, but before she could muster up some words of thanks, the truck pulled away. "I honestly didn't see exactly where it went," Christine says. "It seemed to vanish into thin air, but I knew such a thing couldn't happen."
The next day Christine got a ride to Jessie's garage to tell him what happened and she described the truck. "Did he charge you for the tow?" Jessie asked. "No," Christine told him. "He said to work it out with you."
"That's crazy," Jessie responded. "My tow driver, Pat, and I have a standing arrangement. But Pat's truck is orange, and it says, 'Pat's Towing' on the side." He called Pat and was surprised to learn that Pat hadn't had any emergency calls the night before.
"But I dialed your number," Christine pointed out, showing Jessie the card she used, "and a woman answered and then put a man on the phone, who then came out to get me in a bright blue truck."
"Impossible," Pat insisted. "I didn't pick anyone up last night."
"Well," Jessie looked at Christine's tire, by now ripped to shreds, "SOMEONE had to tow you because you couldn't have driven the car in that condition."
"Didn't the driver leave his name on the note?" Christine asked, extremely mystified.
"What note?" Jessie asked.
"The note he put through your key drop."
Jessie looked at Christine. "There was no note left for me, there or anywhere." "But I saw him drop it..." Christine described the driver, slender with shaggy hair.
"That's not Pat," Jessie interrupted. "He's big and bald."
The two looked at each other. "I think he was my guardian angel," Christine said slowly.
"Jessie wished me a Merry Christmas and I wished him the same and left to attend the noon daily mass at my parish, St. Patrick's" Christine says. The next day, she told her neighbors about the tow truck episode. "I live in a tiny apartment complex and the lot is very small, so I apologized for the noise they must have heard from the tow truck when I was dropped off at my door. They never heard or saw the truck."
Christine has never forgotten the incident but as Christmas comes each year, and she bakes her favorite cookies, she gives special thanks to her quiet guardian.