The other afternoon, I was outside mowing, vrooming back and forth on my riding mower across the swath of our yard that faces the state highway. Like always, I had the earbuds of my iPod Shuffle jammed in my ears, replacing the whirring of the mower with the throb of the Ramones, which was probably just as bad for my hearing. After making countless passes across the lawn, I saw Barb standing on the front porch trying to catch my attention.
I cut the power to the mower, pulled the buds out of my ears, and looked in the direction Barb was pointing. At the bottom of the short, steep hill at the foot of our yard, sat an elderly woman in a stalled car, blocking the east-bound lane of the two-lane road. As traffic rolled by in the lane to her left, she frantically turned the key to crank the engine, hoping – as any of us who’ve been in the same situation always do – that this time, some last bit of oomph would spark the engine back to life.
She wasn’t having much luck getting it to revive. Worse, several cars were now moving up behind her, adding to the stress of a stalled car the embarrassment of blocking traffic.
I pulled myself up off the mower and started down the hill toward the car just as a gentleman in a red convertible pulled up right behind her. He craned his neck to look around the car, sped around her . . . then pulled back over in front of her, stopped, got out and walked over and leaned in the passenger window, talking to her. At almost the same time, another car pulled up into our driveway and let out its passenger, who quickly hustled over to the stalled car and also began speaking with the woman.
As it turned out, the second gentleman was a mechanic, who listened to the crank of the motor and told her what was wrong, while the driver of the first car and I directed traffic around her (which is about all I can do, since I can’t fix a thing). Suddenly, the woman’s car had been pushed into a driveway across the street, a tow truck had been called, and Barb had escorted her inside for coffee while she waited for her ride.
Total elapsed time: about five minutes, tops. And the drivers who had stopped to lend a hand? Gone, Lone Ranger-style.
Yeah, I know things like this probably happen all the time – or at least I hope they do — and not just in small towns. But it was yet another one of those moments where I had to stop for just a moment and remember again why I love this place.