As she strode up the steep hills of Corner Brook on her first day ever in Newfoundland, Joy Smith was praying for some sort of help.
As she stopped, crying and looking at her phone to see if she was headed in the right direction, a proverbial angel came to her assistance.
While her story wouldn't have the happiest of endings, Smith will never forget the silver lining that has highlighted her short-lived visit.
Smith and her husband, Ted Pearson, had a visit to the province on their bucket list and decided this summer they'd check it off. They flew to Nova Scotia to borrow a car belonging to Smith’s sister and take it to Newfoundland.
The plan was to drive across the island to St. John’s and make it a round trip by taking the Gulf ferry back to Nova Scotia through the port at Argentia.
The British Columbia couple had only been in western Newfoundland on their much-anticipated tour of the island a few hours when calamity struck, July 12.
At Stephenville, the car broke down. Unable to find anyone to fix it, they had it towed to Corner Brook.
The couple were already on a tight budget. They weren’t anticipating the $300 towing expense, let alone what the car repair bill was going to be.
They had also planned to stay at cheaper bed-and-breakfast locations, but had to book a hotel in Corner Brook instead.
When they got to the hotel, they realized Pearson had left some medication in the car. To save a little money, Smith decided against calling a cab and walked from the downtown hotel, up and across Humber Heights to Canadian Tire, where the car was being assessed.
It was during a break on this hilly climb, as she was checking her resolve and her whereabouts, that a woman who had been mowing her lawn noticed that Smith seemed distressed.
The woman asked Smith if she was lost and then pointed her in the right direction.
But this would not be the last they would see of one another. As she continued up the road, the woman pulled up next to Smith a few minutes later and offered her a ride to the garage.
She then told Smith she would wait for her and drive her back to her hotel.
When Smith came back out, the woman told her she had just talked to her husband and they agreed to offer Smith and Pearson a loan of their truck because they wouldn’t be needing it for the next little while.
“I’m not really religious, but I can tell you I was crying and praying to God that day,” said Smith. “Then, 20 minutes later, he sent us two angels. It was a miracle, really.”
Smith and Pearson spent their time in the Corner Brook area. Despite having a vehicle to drive, they did not want to go too far and log miles on the borrowed truck.
As the days wore on, they weren’t sure if they were going to continue on with their journey as planned once their car was fixed or if they would just have to turn around and go back to Nova Scotia the way they came.
“It all depends on how much the car is going to cost us,” Smith said five days into their adventure. “If we can, we will continue on. If it’s going to cost too much, we will just have to get it fixed and go home.”
They were told there was an issue with their transmission that would require about 12 hours of labour to repair.
But the car trouble proved neither an easy nor quick fix. Six days in, Smith and Pearson still had the borrowed truck and were getting ready to return it.
Initially, they had been told they would get their car back Friday, a week after it had been brought to the garage. They still had a plan to do the rest of their trip across the island.
“We’ll just sleep in our car if we have to,” Smith said at the time. “We came to see Newfoundland and we’re going to see it.”
Then, later on Thursday they got the devastating news their car would not be ready until Monday. It was a crushing blow, especially since the couple had to vacate their hotel room, which was booked with a reservation for the Corner Brook Come Home Year celebration this week.
The couple decided to abort their costly journey once they got Smith’s sister’s car back from the shop.
“Corner Brook has been amazing to us, but we just want to go home now,” said a clearly distraught Smith.
Despite this unfortunate turn of events, Smith and Pearson said their ill-fated adventure in Corner Brook was still a good one, thanks to the random kindness of strangers.
“This couple that don’t even know us have been absolutely amazing and their kindness won’t be forgotten,” said Smith.
The woman who loaned the couple the truck did not want to be identified for this story highlighting the generosity of her and her husband. The woman did say, for some reason, she immediately felt she could trust Smith and was compelled to help in any way she could.
Smith and Pearson offered the couple money as thanks for the unselfish gesture, but the woman refused. All she asked for in return was that Smith and Pearson pay the good deed forward.
In a way, the positive part of this experience may have been karma rewarding Smith and Pearson for good they’ve already done.
Not long ago, said Pearson, they found themselves in a situation where they had an unexpected opportunity to help. They had been on a rarely used road deep in the British Columbian high country when they came across some German tourists whose vehicle was haplessly stuck. They were able to tow the stranded driver to safety.
They feel their experience in Corner Brook will only reinforce their own willingness to lend a hand.
“We always help people wherever we can and we’ll definitely keep on doing that,” said Pearson.