He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.

He worked at that emergency helpline centre, day in day out, answering calls and reaching out to distressed road users. Whether as a voice of comfort, or advise, or simple passing along of information as needed. He desperately awaited the one call that would change his life. For better or for worse, it mattered not. It could not make it any worse than it already was.

“Yes ma’m. I understand. We will have our emergency team sent out to you right away…. Yes…  Please be sure to stay in your car, and wait for our car to help you out. Ok then, you take care now.”

He couldn’t help but smile as he hung up. She had a rich, silky voice. He imagined she was one of those beautiful naturally blonde women with perfect eyes, and a perfect nose, perfect dentures, perfect nails. The kind he’d always read about but neither had nor would have the opportunity of seeing. He sighed, it was just one of those things.

The phone rang again, and he sensed no one else was willing to utter those twelve words again.

“Hello. This is the  Emergency Roadside Assistance. How may I help you?”

He listened for a while, no comment.

“Yes, I am sure…. No, I have not seen this particular phenomenon, where the front of the car lets out sparks every time you switch on the engine. Have you considered taking it to a garage or arranging for a mechanic to pay a house visit?”

He listened patiently while the caller at the other end went on and on, exuding an attitude as though he had called the Queen and ended up speaking with the next-door gardener.

He waited patiently for the monologue to end. “Sir, you will find that you are speaking to some of the best professionals there are in the automotive department in the region. But if you do not mind, you are holding up the line for potentially endangered road users who may require our urgent assistance. I would advise you to please call your local garage to have your car checked. We cannot help you currently. Thank you for your call.” He hung up before the caller had a chance to respond, and grinned.

The late callers always made his day, with their senseless arguments and irrational judgement when it came to cars and their usage. He reflected back on the day’s events, so far no fatal emergencies, which was always a blessing. He asked someone vaguely for the time, and was told it was nearing 4pm.

Unintentionally, a rather heavy sigh escaped him, one his colleagues did not fail to notice.

“What’s up? Are you ok?” Someone at the back of the room asked, and he merely nodded in response. Afraid that if he uttered even a single word, he would shatter and his cool, controlled composure he had tried so hard to maintain would crumble, leaving him helpless and surrendered.

Once more the phone rang. He sensed people around him unwilling to answer once again, and sighed as he answered wearily. “Hello. This is the Emergency….”

“Yes, this is he. May I ask who’s calling?…… Oh.” His normally straight posture slumped slightly. Not out of fatigue; out of relief. “Are you sure? Wow, that… Yes I certainly can. Thank you, thank you!” He practically screamed into the phone, and had the entire office held captive by his words.

“I am getting my eyes….. I am finally getting them…” He lost all previous thoughts of losing the cool composure and wept. Wept for all those unseen, unfinished moments. Wept for the life that had passed him by. And wept ecstatically for the life waiting ahead. Things could only go up hill from here.

And he wept some more. For survival. For strength.


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