Tim left late, and thirty minutes after I fell into one of those deep dreamless sleeps I got a phone call. I didn't need to be fully conscious to know who was calling, or what it was about.
Tim hadn't made it past the first stop sign, at the bottom of the hill, before our 71' Chevy truck died. Tim had been exercising his truck-whispering skills for an hour before deciding to call the cavalry.
Have you ever read Robert Fulgum's chapter on Jumper Cables? Well, if you haven't, take a moment to read it:
"Jumper cables? You got jumper cables, buddy?"
"Yeah, sure. I got jumper cables." English teacher and his nice sweet wife, from Nampa, Idaho (as it turned out). In their funny little foreign car. Drove around town with their lights on in the morning fog and left the lights on, and so forth and so on. Dead meat now. Need jumper cables. Need battery. Need Good Samaritan. Need a friendly hand from someone who looks like he knows what to do with jumper cables. And the Good Fairy of Fate placed them in my hands..... < READ MORE >
My fear battled my desire not to insult Tim's intelligence. In the end I pinched my eyes shut, turned the ignition key, and..... nothing happened. It was sort of anti-climactic. I was expecting an arc of blue light that would weld my hands to the steering wheel or something else, equally atrocious.
We couldn't jump the truck. We had to get the truck off the road. Unfortunately, the stop sign sits at a slump in the road. The road adjacent to the stop sign is elevated, and the road down to the stop sign, the road that I live on, happens to be the steepest hill in the city (in my opinion). Nonetheless, Tim instructed me to steer while he pushed. Neither of us really expected to go anywhere, but we were of the same mind to try anyway.
As predicted, Tim was able to push the 3/4 ton truck ten feet up that steep hill, and I had managed to steer it closer to the curb. Tim said, "We aren't far enough away from the stop sign, legally. Maybe, with gravity's help, we could roll the truck through the stop sign...?"
Sounded like a plan to me.
"You know," He huffed. "If we were in Lake Stevens... a cop would be here helping us already."
We attempted, with gravity's help, to roll the truck through the stop and over that slight elevation. It didn't work. That's when the high beams of someone's car momentarily blinded us as it turned onto our street. The car pulled up along side the Chevy. Two men, our age, rolled down their window and said, "Hey. Buddy. Need some help?"
Tim, who was facing me - the opposite direction - inspected the strangers over his left shoulder. For a moment, I thought Tim was going to say NO, so I piped up and said, "Yes! Yes we do!" Which I later regretted doing (after cross-examining my memory of the event I now realize Timothy was taking a moment to judge their character for safety's sake).
Tim echoed, after a polite pause, "Yeah, man. We could use some help."
The driver of the car slapped his window sill and announced, "Well that's what we're here for! My cousin is the first house on the left. She called us and said you guys might need a hand."
I've never met my neighbor, two doors down, but I'm going to now.
The boys exited their vehicle, sidled up to Timothy at the front of the truck, and in a few quick moments we had the Chevy neatly parallel parked a quarter of the way up the hill. Then the boys shook arms with Timothy - like comrades - and told us to have a good night. Just like that.
Did they really drive from wherever they were, at the beckoning of a cousin, at the drop of a hat, to help complete strangers? Did that really happen?
Wow, Puget Sound. Wow.