A Tale of Two States...

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Finally, after a long winter (and it's not over yet) we had a decent weekend.  Temps in the high 40's, bright and sunny, no storms on the horizon.  A perfect chance to get out of the house (remember -- I work at home, so winters feel twice as long.)

Off my wife, Donna, and I go to do a little antiquing and grocery shopping. Late in the day we were stocked up and had a few more antiques for the farm house. It was time to go home -- or so we thought.  The Mazda had other ideas...


On the way home, I noticed the cd player started skipping.  Then the clock blinked off.  The turn signals seemed to plink faster on the dashboard whenever I made a turn. If I turned off my headlights the cd player worked. Then, by the time we reached the end of Castle Island Road, heading for Mt. Vernon, the car died. No long goodbyes -- one minute it was running, the next it wasn't.


Luckily, we broke down where our cell phones still worked, so my wife called AAA, while I got out and opened the hood.  I had no idea if opening the hood would do any good, but I did it anyway.  Yup, the engine was still there, right where I found it last time I opened the hood -- weeks ago -- to add wiper fluid. I wiggled the battery cables, and stared a while at engine parts. I wouldn't have a clue how to find the oil dipstick, let alone fix an electrical problem. I left the hood up (maybe a little fresh air on the engine would help), and got back in the car.


Donna was still on the phone with AAA, when I noticed a big truck pull up along side us.  I rolled down the window. Now in Boston, had we been in the same situation, horns would honk, lights would flash, universal hand gestures would pass along between drivers. Not so in Maine.


"Need help?"


I had to look up into the cab of the truck to see the driver.  I explained to her we were on the phone with AAA, and we would wait for the tow truck. Kathy (we learned her name later) was thinking faster than we were.  She offered one of us a ride home to get our second car. So, Donna rode off with Kathy, leaving me with the hood-up, hazard-flashing, electronically-challenged car.


It was quiet, waiting at that stop sign. A scene from MASH kept running through my head.  Frank Burns had driven a tank over Col. Potter's jeep. Potter pulls out a gun, and being the horseman he is, shoots the jeep.  I kept wondering if I should put the Mazda out of my misery.


Another truck pulled up. I explained I'd called AAA and we waved and they drove on.  A station wagon pulled up and we gestured through closed windows that I was fine and we waved to each other and the driver kept going.  Another truck rolled up and, again, I explained the situation.  We waved to each other and they went on their way.

It was growing dark now.  The occasional driver would roll up along side of me, I'd open the door (the electronic windows had finally died,) I'd tell them about the tow truck on the way, we'd wave to each other, and I'd be left waiting again. In the dark.  Thinking about bears. (Oh yeah, winter.  They're still hibernating aren't they?)


Finally, my wife showed up, pulled in behind me and set her flashers. Now, people driving past were fewer, and with the second car, they must have reasoned I was being helped and everything was under control. Not long after, the tow truck pulled up, hooked up, and towed my car to the garage we use.  We went home.  Maybe we should have stayed home. 


Then again, maybe not. I never felt safer, broken down on a back road, than I did that night in Maine.  No one <i>had</i> to stop and check to see if I was all right.  Some didn't, but most did.  I have a feeling in Boston it would have been the other way around.


To all the Kathys out there, and all the other anonymous aid-givers, we thank you for making the effort. You folks are why we moved to Maine.


Of course, I might wait until late spring before venturing out again.  I wonder if I should get a horse?  Not a whole lot of trunk space on a horse, though....

1 Comment

well, i can say that you felt so afraid and as i have read your story, i was amazed on how strangers help you even when you even didn't know them at all, atleast you have the courage to accept the help you need...im so glad i have read your blog.

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This page contains a single entry by JeffAdminist published on July 8, 2009 6:49 PM.

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