Lifestyle & Human Interest

Stranger Leaves Note and $200 at Auto Shop After Teen Couldn't Pay for His Car Repairs


At 19 years old, Nebraska teenager Zach Bowen learned just how expensive car ownership can be.

It was 2016 when Bowen began having trouble with his 2006 Ford Taurus, The Epoch Times reported.

Finding a reliable, honest car mechanic can be difficult at times, but Bowen put his trust in West Omaha Auto Service, a family-owned business that has been in the community since 1993.

When Bowen came to pick up his vehicle, he was upset to learn that the repair costs were more expensive than he had anticipated.

He took out his credit card to pay for the service, not knowing that he was being watched by another customer who was in the shop on that Friday.

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In a moment that must have felt embarrassing and a bit uncomfortable, Bowen’s credit card did not work and he had no other way to pay for the repairs.

Though the teen could not pay, West Omaha Auto Service Manager Anthony Oxtal told Bowen to take his car home anyway. They could square up the payment on Monday, Oxtal told him.

When Monday morning dawned, Oxtal went to unlock the shop and found an envelope left inside the key dropbox.

The note was from a family who had witnessed the payment interaction between Bowen and Oxtal on Friday afternoon.

“My husband was here Friday afternoon to pick up car and a young man and possibly his mother were here to pick up the young man’s car,” the note read.

“He was having trouble getting financing to pay for repairs. You let him take the car and told him to come back Monday to figure it out.”

The couple had been moved by the scene and enclosed a generous amount of money to help pay for Bowen’s bill.

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“I would like to donate to the bill, here’s $200 for the repairs,” the note read.

Bowen’s mother, Sherry, called the auto shop on Monday to settle her son’s account. She and her son were floored when Oxtal told them the good news about the anonymous donor.

“It was a big shock. I was definitely in tears,” Sherry told KMTV-TV.

Bowen was also encouraged and moved by the kind gesture.

“You guys are a prime example that there is still kindness in this world,” he told KMTV. “It really touched me, and now I’m eternally grateful.”

As for the note, Bowen said he plans to keep it.

“I’m definitely going to frame this envelope,” he said.

Sherry said she will be looking for opportunities to pay it forward, so that warm, authentic acts of kindness can continue to spread.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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