Five o'clock in the morning is one of my favorite times. Not too many cars on the road and the world seems somewhat peaceful. There is just a hint that it will be light soon. No one to hassle you and the solitude has a calming effect on me. I look in front of me on the interstate and only see two cars and they are about a mile ahead of me. A check in the rearview mirror reveals one car coming over the rise about a quarter mile in back of me.
I notice that just ahead is a car with the emergency flashers on to warn us that the car is not moving. I slow out of curiosity more than anything else and notice that the car is a late model Honda and a black woman is standing on the grass about twenty feet from the car. Although the car is safety off the road and on the shoulder, I think to myself that she is smart to get away from the car in case someone plows into her car. The woman is slim, well built and pretty. The car that was in back of me passes and I see that it is a state cop. He didn't even slow down to see if the woman needed help. Bastard!
I slow down and pull off of the road and onto the shoulder. I stop about 30 feet in back of the Honda and put on my flashers and shut off the engine. The woman looks apprehensive, not sure of my intentions. I walk up to her and start to ask her what the problem is. To try and allay her fears I stay several feet away from her, trying to let her know that my intension was to help not hurt her. She tells me that she ran out of gas. And asks if there is a gas station within walking distance.
I am a tradesman and my vehicle is a pickup with a full cap. The cap is for the purpose of protection for the considerable amount of tools that I have to carry. I tell her that I probably have a hose in the pickup and that I would siphon enough gas to get her on her way. I had just filled my tank about an hour ago. A look of relief shows on her face. I walk back to the cap, open it and search for a siphon hose. After several minutes I find a three-eighths hose and a gallon jug. I walk to the filler cap on my truck. The three-eighths hose is a little small which means it might take a minute or two longer to fill the jug.
While I am filling the jug, we started some innocent conversation. She tells me that she was on the way to work and that she was going to stop at the next turnoff and get gas. She explained the her gauge must be off as it indicated that she still had about an eighth of a tank of gas left. She said that many cars had passed but no one stopped. She felt foolish that she had let the car run out of gas. I laughed and assured her that I had done the same several times. She told me that she was sure that the car needed a tune up as it was using more gas than usual. She said that, when she was married, her husband used to take care of the car.
I filled the jug three times and poured the gas into the Honda all the while making small talk. The small talk turned to me. She asked if this was going to make me late for work. I explained that I was just coming home from an unsuccessful fishing outing at a creek in the area. I told her I was self-employed and that my hours were my own. Work was slow this morning anyway. She thanked me for stopping several times and each time I told her not to even think about it. I was just happy to be of help.
I replaced the gas cap and closed the filler door. I asked her to get into the car and that I hoped the battery was still charged enough to pull the gas from the tank to the engine. She turned on the key and after a few seconds the engine sputtered and tried to start. A second attempt and the engine started and continued running.
She got out of the car and came to the back of the pickup, where I had moved to store the jug and hose. She reached for her pocket book and offered to pay me, telling me that a road service call would have cost big bucks. I refused and assured her that I was just happy that I could help. She asked if she could at least pay for the gas and I again refused. I insisted that she get back in the car and get to that gas station. She asked for my address so that she could send me a thank you card. I handed her my business card and told her she had better get to the gas station before the car stopped again.
She got into the car and started toward the gas station at the next exit. I followed at a safe distance until she pulled into the gas station. I slowed to make sure that she was all right and she waved with a big smile in my direction. I tooted the horn once in reply and headed for home. After a shower and shave I would start my daily grind.
The rest of the day was uneventful and the time passed swiftly. The service calls were simple and most could have been avoided if people had followed the instructions in the maintenance manual and/or had used the equipment in the way it was intended. Several customers were sure that I was ripping them off, so I explained how to care for the equipment. I knew that they wouldn't follow my instructions. Most of the customers had no idea where the maintenance manual was and I was sure that few had read it.
.... There is more of this story ...