Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Power to the people

Outside of 31 Flavors the lights on the dash flickered then faded out, while the angry red battery symbol came to life. I know where the red battery symbol is --it's right across from the "fucking feed me you cheap bastard" symbol, which appears with some regularity in my little, much maligned and scarcely loved Dodge Neon.

The Neon and I have an uneasy alliance these days. We both know it needs significant repairs --new brakes, rotors, tires, a couple of belts and something called a harmonic stabilizer, which the even mechanics think is too pricey at $350 --not that they won't take the money. The have to make a living, you know? Anyway, I have promised some of these things --along with an oil change, which do to the design of the vehicle must be done by a professional --but I've been a little slow in fulfilling my obligations.

The car failing to start seemed to be a message --particularly since I was in possession of an ice cream cake.

But I had jumper cables and right away --after I popped the hood --a guy traveling with his family in a big SUV left the store and offered to help then abruptly he began yelling toward the store and his wife on the other side of the glass wall.

"Get me a strawberry sundae. A strawberry sundae. Strawberry. A sundae. I want a strawberry sundae." He pounded on the incredibly durable and transparent material then mimed what he believed was the international symbol for strawberry sundae.

Fuck if I know if he got it right, but I'm sure he had his doubts.

Still, he'd come to help. He popped the hood of his vehicle. He wasn't sure which side the battery was on. After some consideration, he decided he should move his SUV to the parking space on the other side of my car, which might have been helpful, if we could have located his battery.

We never did.

"Sorry, man," he told me then offered to get some tools out of his trunk which could be used to test my battery to see if it was dead.

I thanked him then he offered to move his vehicle, if I needed him to, eventually, if someone else wanted to help me jump the battery.

"Sure," I said. "Yeah, whoever would need to be on this side, I think."

Of course, he didn't mean right now, but later, like tomorrow. So off he went in a rush to talk to his wife about that strawberry sundae he wanted her to order.

A few minutes later, standing there with the cables, looking like a great big boob, an old guy pulled up in particularly handsome later model pickup truck that, quite frankly, looked a little too good for a truck older than my youngest sister.

"Need a jump?" He asked.

The answer seemed obvious to me, but I looked toward the guy with the SUV. He watched us through the window, spooning strawberry sauce into his mouth. I motioned toward his vehicle. He nodded and took another bite.

He had a long way to go still.

We decided to go on without him. The old guy didn't really mind and with skill that I would call fairly impressive for a guy who probably fought the Nazis, he managed to deftly navigate this very large truck into an obscure position where the line from one battery to the next would reach --if just barely.

The Dodge started on the first try. I thanked the old guy and his wife handed him a waffle cone. I let the car idle for a couple of minutes, just to be on the safe side, then the man with the SUV left the restaurant with his family. It looked like a little strawberry had gotten on his shirt.

He waved as he left.

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