I have had my own personal lesson in not judging a book by its cover in recent weeks.

It started a few weeks ago when I experienced car trouble. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a cold and rainy day that also happened to be my day to work.

Traveling down Ash Street, my car started to surge and sputter. My husband, Ron, had told me earlier in the week we might need to take it in for service because it was making a noise.

Well, it caught up with me.

But I had places to go and stories to write so I did the most logical thing in this situation — I pulled into Krispy Kreme to cash in a coupon. When I came back out and started up my car, though, it did not cooperate.

I immediately called Ron to enlist his help. When he asked where I was, I had to mumble my confession that I was at Krispy Kreme, manipulated by the “hot doughnuts now” sign. He showed up momentarily and turned into the Incredible Hulk, as he instructed me to put the car in neutral while he proceeded to push it around the parking lot out of the way.

Magically, two men emerged from the business and attempted to help us.

Ron said afterward, “You do know that I was able to push your car all by myself, don’t you?”

Yes, I replied, the image of this manly man seared into my brain forever. Major credit.

I wound up being without a car for more than a month, waiting for repairs to be complete. There was a silver lining blessing, though. Our neighbor, Matt, loaned me a car. The Transformer, we call it, because a previous accident left it looking like parts may start falling off as I travel down the highway.

It drives well, though, and got me where I needed to go.

Maybe most people don’t judge. But sometimes it feels like they do, on those occasions when they’ll do a double-take scanning the exposed underbelly of the car as I drive up.

I tell you what, though, operating a car that poses as a clunker has its advantages.

Other drivers got out of my way. Either they perceived I had nothing to lose and may ram them or perhaps they viewed me as an unpredictable driver with no depth perception that could strike at any moment.

The added outcome was no one asked me to donate money around the holidays. Clearly the vehicle I was operating sent a message that I couldn’t afford repairs, or anything else. I also found I wasn’t too worried about anyone breaking in to the car and stealing anything.

Likewise, the entire experience taught me a few things. Like not making snap judgments, to say nothing of not putting too much stock in material things. More so, though, it served as a great reminder of things which matter and those that don’t.

Like a neighbor willing to unconditionally share what he has with someone else in need. And learning to be a gracious receiver.

This being New Year’s, seems to be the perfect time to put such lessons into practice.