Death of the Good Samartain
I'm driving home yesterday and I passed a brand new Honda Accord pulled to the side of the road with a flat. Actually, that's not true: The car was parked on a hill, and the left rear tire was shredded. Since there were no "do not back up" spikes around I don't know how this happened but
I did see the tiny woman trying to navigate her trunk and spare.
So, being both car-geek and good southern boy, I stopped. Asking if she wanted help, her shoulders slumped and she thankfully accepted. Now began a strange dance of moving the car to flat ground, chocking the wheels, turning on the hazards and all the appropriate "please don't hit me, you moron" prep involved in a roadside tire change during rush-hour.
The tire iron she had was designed by Ikea in a low budget month. Kindling, yes. Torque-wrench, no. So I headed to my car to retrieve a real torque-wrench. And as I marched back to her car, now a tall long-haired guy with a mean looking wrench she says, "You keep a torque-wrench in your car?"
Yes. I'm that guy.
So as I'm mid-tire change I make conversation and here's where the whole event struck me as sad. I knew that some part of her was thinking "who is this weird guy who would actually stop?". "Is he a sexual deviant?" "Does he prey on people?" She covered it by offering a quiet-leading "So, thanks a lot for stopping..." And for my own part, I'm thinking "Why did I stop? If I do this wrong she'll wanna sue me into oblivion."
When did this happen? When did being nice to someone come with a dozen questions and suspicions? Why wasn't there a line of five guys waiting to help this woman out? Does no one else know how to fix a tire? Are we all just calling AAA instead of actually helping one another? The questions saddened me.... in our litigious, post-9/11 society it seems there's no room for good-old-fashion nice-ness! We're all driving around in our little metal cages scared to death of each other.
No, excuse me... we all have someplace to be. Can't stop. Already late.
I know I've said it. But yesterday I decided all the reasons to keep driving weren't good enough.
I hope she got home okay. And Honda better give her another tire cause that one was crap.
The lesson here, the awarning if you will, is this: If someone's stranded on the side of the road and you can help them... why don't you? Oh... and carry a torque wrench.