Late last night, I was on my way home after choir practice, picking my way along in a driving rainstorm. On impulse I stopped at the Burger King on the way for a bite, and pulled into a spot (conveniently under a streetlight) to eat. I had the radio going, the lights were probably still on, and I had forgotten that the battery had been giving signs of trouble lately.
Sure enough, when I went to start up, the starter motor just made that clacky EH-EH-EH noise. Great – how cliche: woman alone with a dead battery in a terrible rainstorm. I felt like a commercial.
After talking with David, I called AAA and was told it would be about a 45 minute wait. Someone would be coming out from an outfit called “A+ Auto Repair” out of Barrington.
So I read the Internets on my phone with all the lights off and waited. After about half an hour of somewhat anxious weather-checking and watching for a beeg tow truck all lit up, I became aware of an asthmatic automotive wheeze coming from slightly behind and to my right. Turned around, and there was this tiny little white mini-van, and a little raggedy man got out of it wearing a reflective safety vest. He ran over and called out “Horrible weather, isn’t it?” and got me to open the door so he could access the hood release. I couldn’t even roll down the windows, my battery was so low.
He was scruffy looking, and the overalls worn under his safety vest were worn and the sleeves were torn and little more than rags on his arms. But he nodded sharply as he hustled around the side of the car; he knew what needed to be done.
Then he set about with a portable charger pack – it had cables attached to wind-up handles on the sides, so it was pretty quick to set up. He moved cables around, trying different ground points, and on the second attempt (I saw sparks flying through the gap under the hood) the engine started up, good to go. He packed up and waved as he ran back to his little car, which was still hiccuping away behind me. I thought about the shoemaker’s children going barefoot and the tailor’s children going around in rags and smiled ruefully.
“Wait! Don’t you want to see the AAA card?” I had been holding it in my hand the whole time.
He had a slight accent; Polish, maybe? “Nah, I seen the card. You need a new battery. Good night, lady!” And with that, he jumped into his wheezy little mini-mini-van and puttered away.
Texted back and forth to David – he was willing to come out, but AAA had the expertise so we let them deal with it. I had to drive around for about another 20 minutes to get some kind of charge on the battery. I ended up driving along Bode (a road near us that winds around pleasantly) to Barrington Road and then went to Starbuck’s drive thru for a steamed milk (I still wasn’t running heat or the radio). On the way back, I had a scary moment on Golf when I drove through a very, very deep puddle and was completely blinded by sheeting water on the windshield. “Enough is enough, I’m charged up,” I thought, and went home, finally getting in about 9:50pm.
Late night for me, but I’m grateful that AAA was able once again to help out – they kind of saved our driving vacation back in August in Idaho, they’ve come out to help me a couple of times over the years with various things. It’s always a smooth process and they always call to ask for feedback afterwards – they want to know if the affiliate service provider arrived within the time range and whether I was satisfied.
Of course I was satisfied, a cheerful little man came out and got my car going, in a driving rainstorm late at night. Who wouldn’t be? I wish I had gotten his name, but he sure deserves kudos.
Why isn’t every driver a AAA member? They provide so many great services.
From changing flat tires roadside to jumping batteries in your driveway, AAA Roadside Assistance can help get you on your way. AAA is the nation’s most comprehensive service provider. A simple phone call or online request is all it takes to bring help to your disabled vehicle. As a member, you’re covered in any car — whether you are the driver or passenger.