I get in the car, turn the key, and nothing happens. I’d only gone into the grocery store for maybe thirty minutes after a 75-mile drive without a stop. I’ve never had trouble with my car starting before, so I try it a few more times after shifting the gears out of and then back into park, thinking maybe the starter interlock switch didn’t engage property. No luck.
I review my options and a jump-start seems like the best place to start. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to call a tow truck and have the starter examined. I keep jumper cables in the car and fish them out of the spare tire area along with my leather gloves. I drop the cables on the ground next to the car and open up the hood and start looking around for someone who might be willing to help.
A woman approaches the car next to me and I ask her if she’d give me a jump. She looks hesitant and reluctantly agrees to help, qualifying it with, ‘I’ve never done it before.’
Having driven pieces of shit in my twenties that constantly needed attention, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve used jumper cables. ‘It’s okay, we’ll figure it out.’
She begins to load her groceries into her car and while I’m untangling the cables, a man in a big, red truck with his family drives by and offers me a jump. Since he’s with his family, he seems safe enough so I agree, thank the woman for her willingness, and she drives off while the man manuevers his truck into place.
As I’m untangling the cables, another man in a truck on the other side of my car offers to help and I politely decline as the red truck pulls up close. The man whose help I didn’t need goes back to rearranging the groceries in the back of his truck.
Red truck man pops his hood and I’m ready, handing him the cables while he looks around for where to attach them. I point to a battery I can see and he says that’s his secondary battery as he seats the cables on the primary. While he finishes doing that, I pick up the other ends and as I’m turning towards the engine compartment, he pops over with hands open to take the cables from me. I seat the red cable on my battery terminal and the black to the mounting bracket by the alternator.
He appears surprised. ‘Oh, you’re done this before.’
‘A few times,’ I mumble. He seems impressed.
I hop in my car and it starts right up. I wonder if I need a new battery or if I developed a short somewhere. We unhook the cables, I thank him, and he drives off while I put the cables away.
Back in my car, I realize it’s the first time I didn’t have to hunt for someone to help. It begins to sink in that woman in a parking lot with her hood up and jumper cables on the ground will draw men like moths to a bright light.
I drive off, satisfied that if I need another jump it won’t be hard to find a volunteer.
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