The Man in the Maroon Jacket

By; Sunny Roy

Boom! I squinted my eyes, half closing them, not wanting to look but looking anyways as our car slammed into the rear of the car in front of us. All of time froze as I saw the car rapidly approaching us and knowing, just knowing, that my dad wouldn’t be able to stop. My dad put his arm out in front of me and I knew that this was going to hurt. The impact was something I had never experienced before. We slammed into the car and the airbags exploded in the air. The giant white cannon ballooned out and it made impact with my face, colliding with my lips and cheek. Smoke immediately surrounded the air. The smell of gas poured into the car. My dad just looked at the steering wheel in shock as the car came to a halting stop. My brother and cousin started shouting, “mummy mummy mummy.” I knew they were about to start crying. We couldn’t be next to the car because in every movie, the car blew up after an accident. I opened the passenger door coughing as I inhaled the fumes of the car. I yelled at the kids to get out.

A man, not involved with crash who later became the highlight of my night, ran over to us directing us to the side of the highway. He yelled, “come on come on get out, we need to get you away.” In the moment of panic and chaos, his voice was the only thing that made sense. I herded the kids towards the side and of course right on cue it started to rain. Perfect, it was cold and it was basically the most miserable situation. This unknown man rushed back and forth between my dad and the man we had hit, making sure everyone was okay. I held my cousin in my arms because she was scared out of her mind. Who was I kidding? I was scared out of my mind. I wanted to cry so badly but I knew someone had to keep it together or the kids would start crying too.

Maybe the man took one look at my face or just knew, he ran to his car and took out a maroon windbreaker. He rushed over and as he handed it to me he said, “here you go sweetie, it’s very cold.”   In that moment, I was taken aback. It just grounded me. Here was a man who didn’t have to be kind or caring, who just out of his basic humanity looked out for us. He didn’t owe us anything. He wouldn’t even get anything out of this whole thing.

The rain was pouring, the temperature was falling by the second, but it didn’t matter. There was someone looking out for me or for all the people who felt hurt and needed comfort but couldn’t say anything. I didn’t have to pretend to be an adult in front of this stranger. I had just finished submitting my application to my early colleges that day and if there’s ever a moment in high school where you feel old, it was then. But all of that was snatched away from me in an instance. I just wanted to cry and someone to hold me and tell me it was okay. This man, in one gesture, did all of that. He provided safety and comfort and I don’t even know his name.

This nameless man was my guardian that night and thankfully no one was seriously hurt. But it made me realize the power of humanity and being there for our fellow brothers and sisters. In our world we often forget to look around and realize the goodness in people. We are so absorbed in pointing out the faults in others and ourselves that we don’t remember the basic humanity in people. This man did what no one could do; he gave me hope. I feel so grateful towards him and he probably won’t remember this day but I will. I will never know his name and I’ll probably never be able to find him and thank him. But he restored my faith in people and I could never repay him for his kindness. The way I see it, I can be that man in the maroon jacket for whoever needs help and that will be enough.