“I think anyone would do what I did. You’ve got to help one another or life means nothing,” says Aldo Mazzucco of the time last year when his kindness, and some much-needed hot chips, put a big smile back on the face of a mum and her three kids.
But then, Aldo knows a thing or two about lending a hand, having devoted the past 18 years of his life to helping Aussies in distress. As an NRMA roadside mechanic in Sydney, his job means coming to the rescue of stranded drivers across the city.
The day in question started like any other. Aldo got to work, logged on and received a call-out to assist a woman whose car had mysteriously switched off while she was driving.
When he arrived, “I could see that she was really stressed,” he says. “I did my checks. I noticed she had three kids in the back of the car who were jumping around like little monkeys. They were all excited that the NRMA man was there with his flashing lights.”
Unfortunately, the family car needed to be towed, which raised an even bigger issue. The tow truck could not carry the young ones. With her husband interstate on business, the mum had no choice but to begin the desperate search to find a friend or family member to come to their aid.
“She really hit the panic button,” says Aldo. “She started going through her phone, ringing people one by one, but nobody could come to get her kids.”
Finally, a relative who lived more than an hour’s drive away offered to come and get them. In the meantime, there were three very hungry little faces in the back seat of the car and their mum had no way to get them any dinner.
So, Aldo came up with a plan. “I said to her, ‘I just need to go get a drink, I'll be back soon,’” he says. “I went over to McDonald’s and bought the kids little burgers, chips, nuggets, apple juice and I bought the mother a drink.”
It was a simple gesture that made a powerful impression. “As soon as the mum saw the food she burst into tears,” Aldo says. “She insisted she wanted to pay for the food but I said, ‘I didn’t do this for you to pay me. I did this because I wanted to do it and it’s just something that people do.’”
For the father-of-two, approaching his day with compassion and generosity is an integral part of not only who he is, but his work. “Seeing people broken down on the side of the road makes me think, ‘What if it was my mother, what if it was my sister, my wife or my child?’ You’ve got to help one another,” he says.
That spirit of giving and kindness is something that Aldo and his wife are passionate about instilling in their kids. “You don’t have to wait for a crisis to help someone. If you know you can do something, you do it.”
However, there were a couple of disappointed faces when it was all over. “My kids were upset that I had bought someone else’s kids Maccas,” he says with a laugh.