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My Unsung Hero: personal pit crew

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. And today's story comes from Sabrina Kronk. Twenty years ago, Sabrina was a newly single mother living near Nashville. Things were tough financially, but she just landed a new job, and life was looking up - that is, until one fall morning when she got into her car to take her daughter to day care and the car would not start.

SABRINA KRONK: My heart just sunk. Finances were just so limited at that point, and I'd already been pouring a lot of money into the car. The car eventually rumbled to a start. And I knew I had to drive straight to the service center at the car dealership and not stop anywhere else so I could get there in one piece, and hopefully it wouldn't break down on the side of the road. So we drove straight to the dealership, pulled into the service bay. And the service technicians started taking out my daughter's car seat and putting it in the courtesy car that would drive us to her day care and work. And I realized they had done it so many times that it was like we had our own personal pit crew. You know, you pull in, and they start taking care of things without even being told what to do. They just knew to transfer everything. They would even shuttle us to the front of the line. Like, they didn't want her to have to wait, for me to have to wait - drove me to her day care. And then I walked to work, which wasn't far.

And so at the end of the day, they called me, told me the courtesy car was on the way and that it would be ready when I got there that afternoon to pick up. So I walk up to the cashier after we arrived, and she told me there was no charge. They had miraculously found the part I needed at no cost. And I said, could you check that? Like, what is the labor cost going to be today? And she said that the service technicians had donated their labor. And I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. So I asked her if she would please check with the manager. I just wanted to make sure. And he came over to me and just told me just to not worry about it. Everything was taken care of - just to focus on taking care of my daughter. I'll just never forget that kindness and generosity. In them doing that, it made it possible for us to survive financially the rest of the month. They say when you're at the end of your lifeline, you know, tie a piece of string on it, and hang on. Well, they allowed me to do that that day.

CHANG: Sabrina Kronk of Nashville, Tenn. Her daughter Katie is now an adult. Both Sabrina and Katie have received their master's degrees. And Sabrina just celebrated her 20th anniversary at the university where she works. They think back on their personal pit crew with fondness and gratitude. You can find more stories from "My Unsung Hero" wherever you get your podcasts. And to share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone, and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.