“I closed my eyes and prayed, ‘Please, please don’t let me hit their house and destroy my car,’” recalls Timmons, 32.
Instead, she crashed into owners’ flower beds, then pulled out a small tree before her Toyota Rav4 came to a stop.
“I tried to back down, and it only made it worse,” said Timmons, who was overcome with feelings of dread. “No matter what I did, my wheels were spinning in place.”
Timmons texted the customer inside the house to tell her she was stuck in the driveway. Owner Doug Condon quickly walked out.
Condon tried to help him free his car, even sprinkling some birdseed on it to get some traction, but the car didn’t move. They realized it was unnecessary, Timmons said.
Condon and his wife, Nina Richardson, told Timmons to come in and warm up as she called AAA and several towing companies.
Timmons, who was thankful to be out of the storm, told them she lived three hours away in Houston and spent weekends in Austin shopping for groceries because the money was there. Well. She works as an independent contractor for a statewide delivery service.
After making calls for several hours, Timmons said it occurred to him that help was not coming. No one could go out because the roads were terrible and accidents were piling up everywhere.
At this point, Condon, 58, and Richardson, 62, realized they could send her back into the storm or invite her to stay. They invited her to stay.
“We have two guest rooms. It seemed like the natural thing to do, given the situation, ”said Richardson. “We didn’t even need to talk about it.”
Condon and Richardson are the parents of five adult children who live alone. They both work from home during the pandemic, Condon as an energy consultant and Richardson for several public and private technology companies.
The couple had recently received the coronavirus vaccine, Richardson said, so they were feeling fine taking Timmons. They told him to make himself comfortable upstairs.
Timmons, however, was worried about being in the house of strangers.
“I was very grateful, but rather nervous, so I walked around the room and spoke on the phone with my aunt, then my parents, to let them know about the situation,” said Timmons. “I also continued to try to reach any tow truck company I could find, but no one could come. I was stuck.”
Richardson cooked a Valentine’s Day dinner of steak, potatoes, broccoli and salad with the groceries Timmons had delivered, then the three gathered around the table.
“We were lucky – our lights stayed on and we were warm,” Condon said. “And as we got to know each other over dinner, any awkwardness disappeared.
“We just became friends,” added Richardson. “She is a wonderful, sweet young woman. We couldn’t imagine sending it in the dark on dangerous roads.
Still, Timmons admitted that a few bad horror movies had crossed her mind as she grabbed some cool clothes from her car and settled in for the night.
“My situation was the trailer for every hit horror movie,” she said. “I didn’t get much sleep that first night.”
The next day, however, she began to relax when she learned that her apartment complex in Houston was without power, Timmons said.
“My brother was taking care of my dogs so I knew they were safe and I felt grateful to have a warm place for a few days,” she says. “I was so amazed that these super nice people let a stranger stay overnight.”
When Condon and Richardson retired to their home offices to work after breakfast, Timmons decided to thank them by using his baking skills to bake a coconut cake from scratch.
And when the bad weather persisted and one night extended to five, she took their advice and settled into the house, snuggling up with the couple’s two dogs, Haddie and Crosby, and helping to prepare. dinner and doing the dishes.
At one point, Timmons wondered aloud whether she should check in at a motel, but her hosts discouraged the idea.
“I said to him, ‘What would you eat there? All restaurants are closed due to the storm, ”said Richardson.
“What’s another day?” said Condon. “If one of our daughters was in a situation like Chelsea, I would like to think someone would do the same.
Timmons said she had cried tears of gratitude in her bedroom on several occasions, that she was moved that they had taken a chance and opened their home to her.
“I just couldn’t get over it – they never saw me as a burden, not even for a second,” she said.
After the weather warmed up and she was able to dig up her car, Timmons posted some photos from her Austin adventure and a thank you note to Facebook the day before she returned home.
“How incredibly blessed am I right now ?!” she wrote. “Blessed that of all the places my car got stuck, it was their flower bed and not a ditch.” Happy to have agreed to let the “delivery man” into their home in the middle of a pandemic. Glad that during the time of food shortage they were willing to share their meals.
“I can’t believe everything that happened,” she concluded. “More than grateful to have been able to find comfort from strangers during this unprecedented winter storm.”
The next day after lunch, when everyone had hugged and said goodbye, Timmons walked home, knowing that this wouldn’t be the last time she would see them.
“We will definitely keep in touch. How could we not? she said laughing. “I know their address.”