Greg Cohoon (drmellow) wrote,
Greg Cohoon

Good Samaritan

I got to be the Good Samaritan today when I was out for lunch. I was at the drive-thru at the Steak-n-Shake when the person three cars ahead of me got out of her car and started telling the person behind her that her car had stalled and she couldn't get it started again. That car just drove around her. As did the next car. I was at the order window, but hadn't placed my order yet. The stranded lady came over to me and told me that her car had stalled and was there anything I could do to help. She was very distressed -- probably in her 50s or 60s and really didn't know what to do. I could also tell that she was embarrassed to have broken down in the drive-thru lane. I hadn't placed my order yet, so I told the faceless drive-thru man that I'd be back in a bit and I parked my truck in the lot and came out to help this lady.

Now, I know next to nothing about auto mechanics, so I was hoping that something magical would happen when I tried to start this lady's car. She was guessing that maybe the car had overheated, which I guess might be a good theory -- it's hotter than the sun's surface here and she was in stop and go drive-thru conditions. But it wasn't really that bad, so I didn't think that would be it. Her temperature guage was only registering a little past half-way -- far from the red zone -- so, even allowing for a little bit of cool-down time, my guess was that it probably wasn't a heat-related issue. But, like I said, I know next to nothing about auto mechanics, so I didn't speculate any more.

I tried to turn the car over and just got a click-click-click sound. Does that mean the battery needs to be jumped? Or is that a problem with the starter or alternator that requires some mechanical intervention? I don't remember. It didn't matter anyway because while I could normally provide a jump-start if that was all that was needed, I took the jumper cables (and tool box and blanket) out of my truck a few days ago to temporarily make more room in the back of the cab. I told the woman that what we could do is push her car into a parking spot to get it out of the way of the drive-thru while she waited for more professional help. She was still looking confused and worried, so I just told her to get in the car, put her foot on the brake, put the car in neutral, and steer while I pushed it. She seemed pretty cool with that, but I could tell she'd never been part of a car-pushing operation before, 'cause she didn't take her foot off the brake when I started pushing. And she seemed really confused about which way to turn the wheel in order to get the car to go where we wanted it to go. I don't think she realized that the car behaves the same way when you turn the wheel regardless of whether or not the engine is on. It was almost comical looking at her gripping that steering wheel just hoping that I knew what I was doing. I was a little concerned that if she had power steering and/or brakes, it would be tough for her to turn the wheel and once the car got rolling, it might be tough for her to stop it. But it all worked out fine.

I pushed the car backwards a little bit and she aimed it at a parking space. Then I got behind the car and pushed it into the space. She seemed really releived to be out of the way. I saw she had her cell phone out and told her that she could call AAA or a mechanic now and that they'd better be able to help her. She said she was going to call her husband and asked if there was anything she could give me for helping. Of course, I just shrugged that off. I mean, really, all I did was push her car about 20 or 30 feet. Even in the heat of the day, I didn't break a sweat.

"God bless you," she said as I jumped back in my truck. I thanked her, returned the blessing, and wished her luck. Then I ordered a Frisco Melt and came back to the office. I wish I could have helped her more, but she seemed to be in OK shape when I left.

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