I am often amazed by how God takes care of me... You may be tempted, due to my long silence on the subject, to think my car has been behaving itself, or that we have come to a mutual agreement, or, in other words, that everything has been smooth sailing ever since that last day in which I ran out of gas. But you would be mistaken. I simply stopped telling you about my saga because it was getting a bit embarrassing- and my parents feared you all would worry about me.
So tonight I set out to meet a friend, Katherine, at Starbucks to spend a few hours in heart-to-heart conversation. I was late getting out (due to various safety instructions issued at my announcing my pending departure) but when I hopped in the car and turned the key it didn’t start. I ran back inside and grabbed my dad (who was on the phone), who then jump-started the car while still on his conference call. He threw the jumper-cables in the back-seat- just in case. (I have a smart daddy.)
My friend and I had our three-hour chat, and, true to my word, I called my parents to tell them I was leaving and made sure my friend stayed near as I turned on the car. Or rather- as the car didn’t turn on. Shamefaced and giggling, we shuffled back into Starbucks to ask for help, I had the jumper-cables, but neither of us had the know-how. (Where are our men when we need them?!) One of the young women (a large girl with blond hair in a pony-tail) knew how and followed us out to our cars (we were, thankfully, parked next to one another). I knew how to pop the trunk (I had to do Katherine’s for her) but neither of us could get the hoods open. I watched with a tinge of envy as the Starbucks lady stuck her hand fearlessly into the hood crack, feeling around amidst the oily pipes (to my imagination- hot, sticky, and maybe strewn with spiders). She put the plugs on and we waited.
“Do you mind if I smoke a cigarette?” our lady asked.
We didn’t mind.
I started the car, it rumbled, but didn’t start. We waited some more- trying to hold off calling Triple A. We tried again. It didn’t make a sound. Then out from the darkness came an older man with a flashlight peering into the hoods of our cars. He was a classic sixty-year old with his sports jacket, wrinkles, gray hair, and short subject-noun sentences about car-engines with the hint of a drawl. (At last! A man!)
The man made sure everything was on right (telling us just so as he checked), we waited the appropriate amount of time, revved the engines, and I turned on the car. It started. We shut the hoods, threw in the cables, said our thank-yous, but as one last check I turned the car lights on and the engine died. And didn’t restart.
And we started all over.
“You see this—” he says, and proceeds to tell me how the dirt on the battery box terminals interfered with it charging. “You need to tell your mechanic to clean those.”
He got some sort of tool out and cleaned one of the terminals. That helped a bit, but things got significantly better when he then moved the cables down farther past the dirty terminals and gave Katherine’s car a good revving. The car started. To further make sure he got out his electric tool and tested the current on the battery- telling us just where the numbers had to be (something like between 12 or 13-something and 14.2) to mean that the battery was adequately charged. I felt like I was in Physics class. Or Auto-shop.
The lights went on, everything was tip-top. He reminded me again to tell our mechanic. We thanked him and thanked him (and blessed him, as well). And Katherine got a hug for being such an amazing friend.
The odd thing was- the man drove away as soon as we were done. He hadn’t been in Starbucks. He must have just seen us with our car hoods open as he drove by and stopped to help us. He was all kindness - a simple, strait-talking, old-school sort of man- not afraid to get his hands dirty- not looking for thanks, but serving where he was needed. A gentleman. I am pleased we still have those- and glad that God's still making them- and I’m thankful He sent one our way.