Atheist Scruples: the car trouble

Today’s question:

You and friends go on a day-long outing in separate cars. Their car develops mechanical trouble. Do you wait with your friends until the trouble is fixed?

Yes, I did, and it was a colossal pain in the ass.

We have to go back several years to the convoluted day.

It was 8:00 or so on a summer evening when I got the phone call. It was from B, a guy I’d met through a dating site. We didn’t hit it off romantically, but he was a cool guy with similar music and film interests so we’d been hanging out when schedules fit. I wouldn’t have been the first choice for his call, he said, but nobody else he knew with a car was available. His friend and roommate had driven him and his young daughter across town to drop her at her mom’s but when they went to leave, the car completely crapped out. Could I drive over and get them? (Fuck.) Yes, I can.

A neighbour had the hood up and had figured out the problem; they’d run the damned car completely out of oil and seized up the engine. He thought they could maybe make it home with a lot of oil added and a new spark plug or something of that nature. C stayed with her friend and her car and B and I took my car over to an open Canadian Tire (fuck Canadian Tire, just saying) to see if we could find the matching plug. B did not have any money so I bought the oil and the thing. When we got back to the car, the oil was the right stuff but the plug wasn’t a perfect match. The neighour worked on this for nearly an hour but was able to jury-rig the plug it to fit and got the car running. (I had no coat with me and the wind was picking up and I was not a happy camper by this point.)

B and I were to drive to B’s place and C and her friend were supposed to be right behind us. In hindsight, we should have followed them to make sure the car would make it a block in its condition. As it was, we arrived at his place across town and they didn’t. We waited about 20 minutes and then there was nothing else we could do save get back in my car and drive across town again to look for them. It got about three blocks further down the road. It was toast.

B, C, and her friend piled into my car and I took them all back to their place. I don’t remember if I stayed there with them for a bit or left right away. It was a hell of a night.

While B claimed he’d pay me back for my troubles, I never got a lick of money out of him and I didn’t bother to press the issue. Not long after that, the Man and I were together again and haven’t seen much of B since save for comments on Facebook.

It was a strange experience for me, not just because of the 4 or more trips across this wonderful city over the course of an evening, but having friends that would call me for help.

I’ve always been an independent person and calling friends when I need help was never something I thought of doing. When my Reliant died on the way to work, I called a tow truck to take it as far as the Walmart. I had to tow it home from there, too; they said the head gasket had gone and I shouldn’t drive it anymore. When my Taurus peed itself at a parking lot (antifreeze poured out of it) I was meeting friends for supper but I still called a tow truck. (Canadian Tire said that was a head gasket, too. Later I started to wonder if these places just call out “head gasket” to all single women with car trouble to make them stressed over the potential cost of that and more likely to make a bad money decision that will work in the garage’s favour.)

C had no money to buy oil, obviously, let alone pay a tow company.

It’s something you do for friends, I guess. No, I wasn’t happy to do it. I was mighty inconvenienced. I don’t know what I had planned for my evening otherwise – probably nothing – but most of me did wish I had just let the answering machine take the call instead of me getting it. I would have been sorry to hear about the trouble later but I don’t think I would have felt any guilt over not answering.

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