When the old lady rang a U.K. car dealership by mistake in 2016, the telephone receptionist could have quite easily hung up. It was a busy business, selling high-end, luxury vehicles and – after all – time is money. However, after realizing that this was no nuisance call and the senior citizen was in dire need of help, the receptionist called a colleague over. And then this car salesman proved that his character was just as high quality as any of the fancy cars on his lot. He leapt into action, and went the extra mile for an old dear in distress.
Born in Vietnam, Dang Vuong lives in Blyth – a small town in the Northeast of England, just up the coast from the city of Newcastle. Vuong was 34 years old in July 2016 and worked as a car sales manager at a BMW dealership in the nearby town of Wallsend. And, as part of his job selling the upmarket German marque, Vuong prided himself on going the extra mile for his customers.
However, during one Sunday shift at the dealership on July 31, 2016, Vuong ended up going completely above and beyond the call of duty. And, while it was definitely someone in need, this was no customer he ended up helping out. It all began late that morning, when Gina, the dealership’s receptionist, took an unusual call. Concerned at what she was being told, the telephonist turned to the sales manager for help.
It turned out that an old lady who lived locally had experienced a mishap at home. In her subsequent panic, the 84-year-old had mistakenly called the dealership. Gina heard about how the lady had slipped over while preparing herself a bath. When the old girl realized that she couldn’t get up, she had tried to reach out to her daughter for help. Unfortunately, however, elderly woman had misdialed a couple of numbers on her phone and accidentally rang the BMW showroom instead.
“She called our landline and got through to our receptionist, who asked me what to do,” Vuong later explained to his local newspaper, Newcastle’s The Chronicle, shortly after the incident. Vuong, in turn, wasted no time with his quick-thinking reactions. He did an internet search for the old woman’s address then jumped in his car and made a mercy dash to the pensioner’s rescue.
“I said, ‘I’ll go and make sure she’s [okay].’ At first, I thought she was just across the road. It turned out she was about two miles away,” Vuong revealed to the newspaper. But the salesman was clever and ensured that he was able to maintain contact with the stricken senior citizen on his way to her address. He said, “I drove over there while our receptionist kept her talking on the phone.”
So with Gina able to give him updates on the way, Vuong drove the couple of miles to the elderly woman’s house. When he arrived at her home, he found her front door unlocked. So, understanding that time was of the essence, and that the lady of the house may well have been unable to answer the door, he let himself in. Sure enough, the old woman was incapable of inviting people in. Vuong found her lying on her living room floor. Understandably, she was rather worried to find a stranger in her house but the salesman savior was quick to reassure her.
He told The Chronicle about the sorry state that awaited him. “When I arrived, she was in shock more than anything. There was blood on her face and the bath was overflowing,” he explained. Vuong knew he had to act fast, he recalled, “I told her who I was and then scooped her up and put her on the sofa, and covered her with a blanket and waited until her carers and family came.”
After making the old lady comfortable on the couch, Vuong used her phone to call her grandchild, Sara Tweedy. “At first, I was shocked, as I didn’t know who was in my nana’s house,” Tweedy told reporters from the satellite TV news channel CNN in 2016. “Then when Dang explained himself and what he had done, I was so happy he had made time to go and see her. I was so grateful.”
The worried granddaughter rushed from her home in nearby Longbenton to be by her grandmother’s side. But, in the meantime, the elderly lady was in the capable hands of the good Samaritan Vuong. While waiting for Tweedy’s arrival, he cleaned the blood from the woman’s face and then did the most English thing in the circumstances – he made her a nice cup of tea. “In England, a cup of tea makes everything better,” Vuong later explained to CNN.
Vuong stayed on with the pensioner while she drank her reviving cup of tea until her family arrived. Safe in the knowledge that he had left the lady in good hands, Vuong then returned to the BMW dealership. Once he got back to the showroom, the salesman had to put the drama of the eventful morning behind him. Vuong now had to get on with the serious business of making a living.
But while Vuong thought little of his good deed, someone else thought very differently. The old lady’s granddaughter was so moved by the total stranger’s dedication to her elderly relative that Tweedy took to social media to let the world know. “We can’t thank him enough,” she wrote on Facebook later that day. “There really [are] some caring and thoughtful people out there that don’t get recognized for what they do.” But this lack of appreciation for Vuong’s actions would not last for too much longer…
And it was thanks to Tweedy’s post that Vuong did begin to receive the recognition he so richly deserved. Her Facebook update proved that good news travels fast and it eventually attracted an amazing 44,000 likes and an impressive 17,000 shares. The original post also garnered almost 3,000 positive comments, including some from Vietnam. As a result of all this online activity, local news outlets soon picked up the heartwarming story.
As we have seen, before too long, the big media players began to pay attention and news of Vuong’s humble heroics had spread across the globe. He revealed that journalists from all around the world had tried to contact him. “It’s all been a bit of a shock and really overwhelming,” he admitted in an interview with the U.K. television broadcaster ITV.
But despite his worldwide fame, Vuong remained as modest as ever. He claimed that he could not think of anyone who would not have helped the old lady in need. “I’m from Blyth, and we’re a close-knit community,” he proudly told The Chronicle. “I know that anyone else from Blyth who had got that call would have done the same thing.”
However, many people thought Vuong’s modesty was misplaced. On a post made on the local newspaper’s Facebook page about his selfless behavior, readers hailed the salesman’s actions as “heroic.” One wrote, “You should be proud of yourself for helping this lady. The world could do with more people like you, it would be a much nicer place.” Another simply commented, “Not all heroes wear capes.”
The readership of The Chronicle made calls for Vuong to receive a Pride of Britain award. This is a prize given to honor U.K. citizens for their good deeds. But the young man maintained his modesty. “I would have thought anyone would have done the same,” he insisted to the paper, arguing he had done nothing out of the ordinary. “Especially with her being an old lady,” he said. “I didn’t even think about doing anything else. I was raised to look up to my elders.”
Shortly after the incident, Sara Tweedy and her family did some looking up of their own. They travelled to the BMW dealership in Wallsend. The family wanted to thank the sales manager for his mission of mercy in person. Tweedy also took a thank-you bouquet of flowers along for Gina the receptionist. And it proved to be a special moment for all those involved.
“It was lovely to see Sara and it was great to hear how her gran was doing,” Vuong told ITV. And what’s more, there was another twist in the tale. The salesman continued, “I actually used to work with Sara’s husband, Mark, when we were teenagers… So that was a nice surprise and good to catch up with him.”
Tweedy told CNN that her grandmother was doing well but, sadly, the old lady had little memory of her rescuer. So, Tweedy said, she was making sure that her granny did not forget Vuong. “She really doesn’t know much about what happened,” Tweedy explained. “We keep reminding her about the lovely man that came to help her.”