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Olson: Unexpected help a pleasant surprise

Published: Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Justine LaRoche drove her Toyota Camry right through a pothole near the Family Dollar store off Route 23 in DeKalb on Tuesday afternoon when she felt a tire on her car pop, followed by the high-pitched squeal as the air escaped.

The sound struck her as funny. The aftermath did not. The tire had to be changed, then and there, even with the sun high in the sky and the area in the grip of a serious heat wave.

LaRoche, the assistant manager at Amber Manor Apartments in DeKalb, was wearing a white blouse and dress pants – not exactly grease-monkey attire – and she’d never really changed a tire herself before. She called her boss, who offered to send someone from the maintenance staff to help. But in the meantime, she decided to get her hands dirty.

“I got to the point where I had to take off the lugnuts,” she said, “and I was bending over trying to figure out how do I loosen these, and that’s when from behind the back of my car somebody peeked over, and he was just like, ‘Hey, do you need help?’ ”

LaRoche told the man that someone was on the way to help her. She said she thought she knew how to do it.

“He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ And I was like … well … .”

It wasn’t long before the man, who told LaRoche his name was Noah, took over. Despite the sweltering heat that day, he had the tire changed by the time LaRoche’s coworker arrived.

“He was dripping sweat, it was a hot day, and I was just really thankful that he was willing to do that,” LaRoche said. “It’s still nice to see that there are people out there, I don’t know, not chivalrous, but helpful, willing to help someone else.”

LaRoche offered Noah $20 for the effort, but he declined it. Then he went on his way.

LaRoche wanted to share her story about the random act of kindness a stranger committed this week. Usually when we do nice things for strangers and expect nothing in return, their gratitude is left to our imagination.

Some are grateful enough to call the local newspaper to let them know just how much they appreciated it. LaRoche said she wanted to let people know about “the kind-hearted nature of DeKalb residents.”

It was obvious that it still made her happy talking about it a few days later. LaRoche, a 2005 Crystal Lake Central graduate who recently moved from DeKalb to Lake in the Hills, said “Yay” more than once during our interview. 

“Thanks, Noah,” LaRoche said.

In the middle: Beginning Thursday in the Daily Chronicle and online at Daily-Chronicle.com, we’ll be rolling out a three-part series about the aging of the baby boom generation, and the pressures they are facing as they enter their retirement years.

The baby boomers, commonly defined as people born from 1946 to 1964, have been the “pig in the python” in American society. Today they are about 26 percent of the population, and they’ve lived through and brought about a lot of important social changes in America. The series will explore the ways they will continue to do so as older Americans.

No doubt they will, as about 10,000 of them turn 65 each day, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many of the boomers are part of the “sandwich generation” – people who are not only facing the prospect of caring for their elderly parents while still providing support for their mostly grown children. 

There’s been a lot of talk about generations, not just the boomers but also the so-called “millennials,” the youngest generation now emerging on the grown-up scene. They’re getting run down the way young people seemingly always are when they first come of age.

The generational talk has made me think about my own, and how people my age don’t fit neatly into any generational category.

I was born in 1977, which I guess puts me within “Generation X,” but only marginally. I’m a child of the ’80s but didn’t live in them as an adult or teen; I’ve experienced the Internet revolution, but I didn’t have an email account until I was in college or a cellphone until I was 24. There was actually a time I didn’t see the need to have one.

I grew up loving newspapers – and still do – but know that the future demands that I embrace the Internet, smartphones, tablets and the many innovations that no doubt are to follow.

All of these neat generational breakdowns people cast our society in sometimes look a little off to a cusp person. Maybe you feel the same if you were born in, say, 1962, or 1943.

It’s not so bad, though, really. Although we’re often not quite sure where we fit, we also have an easier time relating to people of either generation.

New Planit DeKalb County: We’ve revamped and relaunched our Planit DeKalb County website, online at www.PlanItDeKalbCounty.com.

All the same features about Planit DeKalb County are still there – discount vouchers for purchases at local restaurants, retailers and service centers, as well as coupons, calendar listings and other local entertainment information.

The site is filled with savings opportunities. Right now there are vouchers for eateries including Hometown Sports Bar & Grill and Flippin Eggs in DeKalb, Muggzies Pizza in Sycamore, Five Points Pub in Kingston, and Joe’s Pizza and Pub in Genoa – just to name a few. There also are many deals on hotels, weddings, florists, fitness, butchers – you name it, you can save on it.

You can also find more of our editorial content there, in an easy-to-use format that gives you convenient access to daily entertainment news and feature offerings. There’s also a convenient event calendar that helps you keep track of what’s going on in close to home.

Whatever you want to know about local entertainment from movies to golf to what’s happening at the local colleges, it’s all online at PlanItDeKalbCounty.com.

We hope you enjoy the new site, and welcome any feedback. If you haven’t seen the site, check it out. You can find out what’s going on close to home and save a few bucks while you’re at it.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email at eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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