I have yet to meet a genuine car guy who has never spent time on the side of the road. You want to join the old car club? No problem, but the initiation rites are always the same: Your vintage ride will let you down at some point in the relationship. It will happen, and the only luck found in the situation is where it happens. I ran out of luck recently when the 48 year old car I was driving decided to run out of gas on the second busiest road in my city on a late Friday afternoon. Never trust an old car gas gauge.
These are the situations that bring out the best and worst in people. Let’s start with the worst and work our way back to the best of this story. The car managed to stall just past an entry ramp and just onto the busy road. The major intersection had plenty of traffic and much less common sense from drivers suddenly faced with a blocked lane.
Some drivers were simply confused and surprised by a sudden traffic problem. That is understandable- I’ve met smarter German Shepherds than many drivers. It is easy to forgive stupidity.
But brazen acts of reckless NASCAR maneuvers by highly under-qualified and incredibly impatient morons is a whole ‘nother ball game. That is a punch-worthy offense. I saw enough bad driving in that hour on the side of the road to last me a lifetime, but I know I am in store for much more in my life.
So my natural cynicism kicks in as a reflex. I start to wonder how many of these self-involved idiots truly believe that stranded drivers are simply there to ruin their day. Probably more than I care to know.
So I phoned a buddy of mine to bring over some gas. He lived near-by and both of us had long abandoned the urgent need for crazy Friday nights, so I knew he would be home and he has always had my back. Then a young guy in a Chevy pickup pulled up to offer a hand. He probably had a more interesting game plan in mind that evening, but he was prepared to stay as long as necessary.
He was headed the other way and noticed that my vehicle had no emergency flashers, plus he noticed the brazen acts of horrific driving and the potential for disaster. So he pulled up behind and threw on his flashers and offered a hand.
When my buddy showed up with gas, the young guy pulled up on the grass beside me and boosted that old beast back to life. He explained that he had owned a 1969 GTO for awhile until he rolled it a few years ago. The kid was a huge old car guy and he had recognized the urgency of the situation. He just wanted to help out a fellow car guy in need.
The young guy restored my faith in humanity and he was a great example of the brotherhood of the car guy. Car guys have each other’s backs and they pay it forward. Most have walked a mile in the same shoes when an old vehicle decides to give in to old age. Many religions would love to have that same sense of respect for their fellow man.
Anyhow, I never did get that kid’s name. The urgent need to get moving on the busy road prohibited a lengthy conversation. But he got the bigger picture very clearly, and I have a strong suspicion that he was the kind of guy that would stop for anyone -and not necessarily just a fellow car guy.
I’m going to make an effort to track this young guy down and thank him for what he did that afternoon. It was the weekend and he was a working guy probably looking forward to a Friday night adventure. But he took some time to get involved and I genuinely appreciate his sense of humanity-one car guy to another.
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