"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Provide Roadside Assistance

The project:
Help a stranded motorist whose car had overheated.

45 minutes

What happened and why bother?
We were on our way home from running errands when I noticed a small sedan parked cattywompus in the traffic triangle. At first, I drove by, but as I passed I eyed the situation and determined this poor guy was pretty much beside himself trying to figure out what his next option was. I made a U-turn, pulled into the triangle and asked if he needed help or a phone or anything.

Turns out, he didn't speak a lick of English. Fortunately, his first language (and my only other language) was Spanish. Unfortunately, I haven't spoken Spanish in a very long time, so I've pretty much lost it! I've forgotten so much vocabulary, plus I never really learned auto vocab, or words like "steam" and "radiator cap." But we managed.

Through our Spanish and hand language conversation, I learned his radiator cap had blown off when his car overheated, and it was nowhere to be found. (Well, actually he said he'd lost the cap. Maybe that's WHY the car overheated - you can't drive far in the heat without a radiator cap.) The car was too hot to refill with water, and it wouldn't start. It was parked in a terrible spot, and he was only heading up the road about three blocks, so I hooked his car up with my tow strap and off we went, to a safer waiting spot.

Then he used my phone to call his brother for a ride to the parts store for a cap, water and radiator fluid, or home.

Worth it?

He was really nervous about being parked in that triangle. He knew it wasn't a legal spot and he said he was afraid if he left it there it would be towed. He was probably right, and the recovery from the tow wouldn't have been cheap. When it was over, he offered me $20. I refused. He insisted. I offered a handshake instead. I hope I didn't offend him. But really, it took some time, but it didn't cost anything material.

Photo courtesy Leslie under Creative Commons License.

No comments:

Post a Comment

It's a free country. Exercise your right to free speech here -->