In the early 2000s, a strange encounter led to a series of events that left a lasting impression on my perspective about the consequences of our actions. The experience also strengthened my faith. It all began with a phone call from a young lady I barely knew, seeking help with her car trouble near Nolensville Road in Nashville—behind the former Piccadilly Cafeteria.
The next morning—I loaded up the car trailer to my black Chevrolet dually truck and set off to help her. The young lady and my wife’s cousin, Keith Smith, who was working with me at the time helping to start our car business—MidTnAutos.com
We arrived at the location, on a freezing cold morning, I was getting the car trailer ramps attached to load the Ford Probe—a car notorious for its mechanically problems. (note: although I like Fords—never purchase a Probe).
Suddenly, an old, gray-haired homeless man approached us. I asked what ne needed? He responded “I’m hungry.” I told him to walk over to the nearby Piccadilly Cafeteria and I would buy his lunch.
As we finished loading and securing the car—we made our way to the restaurant. Keith and the young lady asked what I was doing. I said “I’m gonna buy that man lunch.”
To my surprise, the manager of Piccadilly Cafeteria was telling the old man to leave and refusing him service. I was surprised about the manager’s callous actions, I asked why he won’t allow him to eat there. The manager, politely, explained that the man’s presence would disturb their customers.
The manager said “I know you want to help him, let me get him a to-go plate.” The staff prepared a generous portion of food, with a sweet tea. I handed the old man a few dollars and some change for the pay phone in the restaurant’s foyer, along with the contact number for the Nashville Union Rescue Mission. I told him to call them and they may help him with a place to stay.
As I left, the gray-haired man looked me in the eyes and said, “May God grant you a million blessings.” Although peculiar, his words resonated with me. Little did I know how profound their impact would be.
“May God grant you a million blessings.”
Driving away from the parking lot, onto Nolensville Road, Keith and the young lady made remarks about the man being a bum and likely spending the money on alcohol. While understanding their skepticism, I shared a thought with them,
“It always comes back to you—much like karma.”
A few days later, as fate would have it, I found myself in an unfortunate situation. I was en route to Atlanta to sell a 1965 Mercedes SL230 to a couple. The night before, for some strange reason, I had grabbed an empty fuel can from my garage and tossed it in the back of my truck. With the Mercedes in tow on the car trailer, I encountered trouble on the interstate in downtown Atlanta’s worst traffic. The diesel truck began running roughly, seemingly out of fuel, even though the gauge showed about 1/8 of a tank remaining.
As I pulled over I had a sense of peace about it and I remembered the gas can in the back of the truck and started walking towards the nearest gas station—hoping they had diesel. At that time, most stations didn’t offer it. After walking only a short distance—maybe 120 feet, a young man in his early twenties pulled up beside me and kindly offered me a ride. We stopped at the first exit, but the station had no diesel. Continuing to the next exit, we found a station that sol diesel fuel.
While filling up the gas can, I reached into my wallet and pulled out a $10 bill, intending to pay the stranger for his help. However, he refused any payment. I discreetly slipped the bill into his console as I sat back in his car. Before he left, I handed him a business card and promised him that if he ever needed a car, I could save him $2000 or more and encouraged him to visit our new car business in Smyrna, Tennessee.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
~ Hebrews 13:2
Upon arriving at the buyer’s home in Gainesville, the woman, obviously thrilled with her new red 1965 Mercedes SL230, suggested we take a ride and grab dinner. We drove out to the Chattahoochee Country Club which turned out to be closed, we settled for dinner at a nearby Ruby Tuesday Restaurant.
The following morning, I left the Gainesville hotel and began my journey back to Smyrna. A few days later, I stopped by the Smyrna Post Office while driving to the LaVergne Rotary Club with Keith. For another strange reason, I happened to hand Keith my mail and asked him to open it. Among the 4 or 5 letters, he discovered a post note attached to a $10 bill, with the words “Nice Try Mike!” This weird occurrence quickly piqued Keith’s curiosity. He said “Why is someone mailing you a $10 bill?! He then recalled my breakdown incident in Atlanta. Amazingly, we both realized the connections between the acts of kindness and the series of events.
“Nice Try Mike.” an anonymous angel?
Excitedly, I shared the story with Dan Miller, my friend and mentor, who I had scheduled as a speaker at the LaVergne Rotary Club that day. Dan, a strong Christian believer, had always encouraged me to follow my passion, encouraged me to start my car business, MidTnAutos.com and leave Nissan Motor Manufacturing Company where I was currently working.
Dan has also written my three books forewords.
He is the author of the widely acclaimed 48 Days To The Work – and Life – You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays, Wisdom Meets Passion and An Understanding Heart. Dan hosts a weekly podcast that is consistently ranked #1 under Careers on iTunes. Dan is also a frequent speaker at conferences including Social Media Marketing World, Podcast Movement, New Media Europe, Launch and his own 48 Days Events. He also has an online community with over 1,100 active “Eaglepreneurs”!
As a boy growing up, my late Scotch-Irish mother would share dozens of scriptures from the Bible, one of which particularly resonated with me:
“You never know who you’re helping in life—you could be entertaining and helping angels in disguise without knowing it.”
Regardless of whether one believes in karma or not, the events I experienced have solidified my belief in the far-reaching consequences of our actions. Karma is often defined as the spiritual principle of cause and effect, emphasizing that every action carries inherent consequences. No one can escape the effects of their actions.
Was the old gray-haired homeless man an angel? Was the young man in Atlanta who came to my aid an angel? The mystery lingers. What remains certain, however, is that my 56 years of life have taught me that our actions—both good and bad—inevitably shape the course of our lives.
A quote I’ve always liked states,
“You can judge a man’s character by how he treats those who cannot offer him anything in return.”
As our world seems to becoming increasingly callused, prideful and evil and many leaders become more narcissistic and egotistical—let’s keep in mind that the next person we come across, irrespective of their wealth, race, or political views, might just be an angel in disguise—deserving of our kindness.
As someone who has been fortunate to have a beautiful and loving wife for 34 years, I can confidently say that I have received countless blessings, equivalent to those million blessings that the old gray hair homeless man bestowed upon me…Also remember that old gray-haired man had nothing to offer me in return.
*A special thanks to my mentors, the late Major Walls, Sally Walls, Bob Spivey and especially Dan and Joanne Miller. I most likely would not be writing this article if it wasn’t for their encouragement.