We would like to express our appreciation to a few citizens who assisted us on a recent trip to Atlanta. They became goodwill ambassadors for the city of Macon. A group of 12 church members were going to volunteer for Operation Christmas Child in Atlanta on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We stopped north of Cordele at a rest stop to eat lunch. When we got back on the church bus, it would not start. Some gentleman gave us a jump start and we were on our way. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of our troubles.
We made it to Macon where we gassed up, but noticed the battery kept losing power. We drove to the Wal-Mart off Exit 9 on I-475. They did a load test and told us we needed a new battery. They did not have the size battery we needed, but gave us directions to AutoZone. We again could not start the bus and they gave us a jump start. The Auto Zone was about five miles away but the battery was losing power, indicating a bad alternator. Before we could get there, the battery lost all power but we were able to coast into the entrance to Wesleyan College.
The battery did not have enough power to run the emergency flashers. If we had not made it into the entrance, we would have been in the middle of a four lane road without the ability to warn other cars. It was about 5 p.m. and beginning to get dark.
One of our passengers was able to catch a ride to AutoZone with a gentleman named Bill (who was the husband of a faculty member at Wesleyan). Our passenger brought a new battery, and while he was gone, we took the old battery out. While he was buying the new battery, he asked if they knew anyone who could replace the alternator on the church bus. Keep in mind that it was about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, the weekend after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Grace, the clerk, said she would contact a local man who worked on cars. When we drove back after hooking up the new battery, she said she had talked to Richard Webb, the local mechanic. He told her that his tech had gone home, but he would see what he could do.
She only had one of two alternators that were listed for the bus we were driving. She let us take it at no cost and said if it was the correct one, then Richard could charge us for it and pay her. If not, then he could return it to her. She gave us his address and we drove the bus to his house. He did a load test on the new battery and it was already down to 61 percent power, which confirmed the alternator needed to be replaced. We took the old alternator off and found out the one from Auto Zone was the wrong one.
Richard then made several calls trying to locate the correct alternator. Finally, he located one at OReillys Auto Parts. It was now about 6:55 p.m. and they were closing at 7 p.m. Richard drove one of us to the store in his vehicle, where an employee named Blake waited a few minutes past closing time to allow us to purchase the correct alternator. We returned to Webbs home where he installed the alternator, and he even fixed some wiring problems we had.
While we were working on the alternator replacement, his wife Peggy, heated up some chili for the ladies on the trip and entertained them. The whole ordeal, from our dead battery at Wesleyan until we were ready to leave their home, was about four and a half hours. Thanks to the Wal-Mart employees, Bill at Wesleyan College, Grace, Blake and especially Richard and Peggy Webb, for making our ordeal a slight bump in the road rather than a major catastrophe.
Macon can be proud of its citizens. Those of us from Stetson Baptist Church of Deland would like to thank and recognize them for caring. We were able to make it to work the days we were scheduled at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse in Atlanta. There really are good Samaritans.
-- Bill & Cheryl Moremen, Gary & Vicki Stewart, Carl and JoAnn Rodkey, Virgil and Lola Johnston, Lynn Wilbanks, Diane Guyer, Vicki Root and Denise Boekoff are residents of Deland, Fla.