Extending Kindness to Strangers
By Charles McGuigan
Imagine you’re a stranger in a strange land. You and your family had to escape your homeland because of what amounted to genocide. There would come a time when the dictator’s thugs would hunt you down, torture you, slaughter you, along with your wife, and the infant she cradled in her arms. It was just a matter of time, so you had to get out. Some countries slammed their doors in your face, equating you with the brutality of the regime you were trying to get away from. You and your wife and your baby spent time in refugee camps, caged like livestock.
Finally you find a haven, thanks to some good-hearted folk. It’s hard, though, navigating your way through this alien culture. You work hard, but can barely make ends meet, just scraping by to supply your wife and baby with shelter, food and clothing. Then it’s time to have your car inspected, an old, donated car, but still adequate transportation to ferry you to and from work, and to the endless doctor appointments for you child. The owner of the garage you take your car to informs you it will cost a whopping six hundred and sixty dollars to get this older Honda roadworthy again. Might as well be sixty-six hundred. Or sixty-six thousand. Fact is, you haven’t got two dimes to rub together, and you need that car to survive.
Leave it to Bobby Shore, owner of Decatur’s Garage in Bellevue, to do the right thing, the kind of thing Americans, in better days, had been known for the wide world over—a generosity of spirit, an almost frenzied rush to help our foreign neighbors in distress, a willingness to open our doors to the homeless and tempest-tossed who simply yearned to breathe free.
Back in May, one of Bobby’s regular customers told him about a family of Syrian refugees in need. Their car would not pass inspection, and there was a lot of work needed before it would. Bobby told them to bring it in, but they could never have guessed the magnitude of his munificence.
When I talk with Bobby, he downplays what he did, as if this is what is expected of us all. When someone posted Bobby’s good deed, the number of positive comments overwhelmed him. “I was surprised,” he says. “I didn’t have any idea this was going to happen. I was not expecting this.”
He describes what was wrong with the car. “It had a problem with the hi-vac system for the defroster and that was an expensive part and we took care of that,” says Bobby. “And one of the headlight retainers was broken and wouldn’t stand up for headlight aim, so we took care of that. We replaced a bulb.” He also threw in an oil change, and checked all the tires. And for his services, which included the state inspection, Bobby didn’t charge these new Americans a red cent. “We don’t mind helping people out,” he says.
He mentions the words of a former pastor at the Shore’s’ house of worship out in Mechanicsville—Shady Grove United Methodist. “He quoted it right,” says Bobby. “He said, ‘When you do for other people, it makes you a better person.’ I think it does. My parents were big in the church, helping people they didn’t know. My dad was always like that. I didn’t know the people whose car we worked on. But they needed help, and I could help.”
Bobby’s two daughters, Amber and Ashley, along with his wife, Valerie, also believe it is our duty as human beings to help when we are able. “Amber is in the youth band and she does mission trips,” Bobby says. “Ashley, my younger daughter, is already an acolyte. And Valerie’s always involved.”
The Shores take part in the Bellevue Merchants Association’s two major annual events. “My family’s always there for both of them,” says Bobby Shore. “This past year at Christmas on MacArthur, we ran out of candy, so we’re going to have to buy more for next year’s event. And last year at National Night Out we served more than two hundred snow cones.”
And then Bobby says this, words we might all want to live by: “It’s just about being honest, and doing what is right.”