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Astoria fuel attendant given new car by anonymous customer

Bradley Rowe said he was chatting with the customer while filling his tank, but thought nothing of the conversation until a Kia salesman came looking for him.

ASTORIA, Ore. — On the morning of Nov. 20, Bradley Rowe was working at the Safeway Fuel station in Astoria. It was like any other day, cars would drive in and Rowe would fill their tanks, chatting with customers while they wait.

It wasn't busy that Friday morning, so he struck up a conversation with one man.

"He was just asking some questions," Rowe recalled. "I'm like, 'I'm trying to get a car loan.' He said how much, he asked what lot. I said it was a private sale."

That loan he was trying to get was for $2,000 to buy a 1998 Ford Explorer.

"Just sitting and chatting with him, then his gas was done. He said you have a great day, I said you too," Rowe said, 

The two parted ways like any other transaction he's had. It must've been something Rowe said, because that man, who Rowe doesn't know the name of, went to Warrenton Kia and started looking around at different trucks.

Bill Ring noticed him pull up and start looking around and approached him.

"He told me what he was looking for and I was trying to help him get dialed in," Ring said.

They walked around and looked at multiple cars, but the man couldn't make up his mind. Ring said the man said, "It's just not really jumping out at me."

What the man said next caught Ring by surprise.

"He made the comment saying that the car is not going to be for me anyway, and that changed the whole thing. It was like, well, what do you mean it's not going to be for you?" Ring asked.

Ring said the man told him about the fuel attendant he just met.

"I was like, wow, OK," Ring said.

Ring and the man went inside and the man wrote a check for an undisclosed amount and told Ring, "This should be enough for him to find something good. Something reliable."

After verifying that the money was real and the funds were there, Ring got to deliver the good news to Rowe.

Ring drove the 10 minutes to the Astoria Safeway and asked for Rowe. 

"You really made a good impression on somebody today and somebody's really going out of their way for you," Ring told Rowe. "Here's my business card and when you get off work, you got to come pick out a new car."

Rowe was blown away, but skeptical. 

"I didn't believe him at first," he said.

After getting off work that afternoon, he and his girlfriend found Ring at Warrenton Kia and went over a list of Rowe's wants and needs in a vehicle. Ring compiled a list of potential cars that fit what he was looking for and the first car they test drove was the one Rowe picked out.

"It's a 2016 Kia Sportage," Rowe said.

Credit: Bill Ring

The four-door, all-wheel-drive vehicle is the newest car the 23-year-old has ever owned. 

"I've never had a fob to be able to lock or unlock my car," Rowe said, still in shock from the gesture. "The day I picked it up and drove home, the next morning I woke up and immediately went looking for my keys to make sure it was real."

When asked why he did it, Ring said the man told him, "He made the comment that everything in his life changed when he found his faith and now he had the opportunity to give back to somebody who's in need."

"I mostly just can't wrap my head around the sheer kindness of that complete stranger," Rowe said. "To talk to somebody for five minutes and then go, 'I'm gonna buy him a car.' It's just unreal."