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These Kids Today

We signed up for a French class at a nearby high school and last night was our first class. About two blocks away from the school, my car suddenly felt like it was running over rumble strips. I thought, flat tire? No, the car was rolling smoothly. Then the noise stopped. Seconds later it started again. I was able to swing the car off the road and into the high school’s driveway, but the car would not climb the hill, and the noise became more pronounced. I realized that the sound was the transmission screaming in agony, so I coasted to a stop (not that I had a choice). We placed a call to AAA and were told that it would take about 90 minutes for a tow truck to reach us. During the call, the AAA dispatcher and I exchanged breakdown horror stories. My worst was a transmission failure in Pittsburgh, which is about 350 miles from home. His worst was a breakdown in Binghamton, which sounded equally bad until I realized I had no idea where he lived.

The 90-minute wait didn’t seem so bad, because all in all, it was a great night to break down. The weather was clear and warm, and our car was safely out of traffic. Unfortunately, we missed the class. We could have walked there, but we couldn’t leave the car. We used the time to catch up on phone calls to friends and relatives. Of course everyone we talked to wanted to know if we needed a ride home, etc., but we were close to home and everything was under control.

The 90 minutes passed, and a Ford station wagon pulled up behind us. Uh-oh. What’s he going to do, chain us to that thing? It turns out that AAA had mis-coded our call as an “out of gas” request, so the driver was unable to help as he stood there clutching his plastic funnel. Anne called AAA again to try to get an idea of when the truck would arrive. We were told it would be there at 9:47. That sounded suspiciously precise, but we couldn’t complain since it was only 45 minutes hence. Sure enough exactly at 9:47 the tow truck arrived. I compilmented the driver on his punctuality, which was no doubt pure luck. He seemed somewhat surprised himself, but then smiled and said, “I’m good.”

The point of this entry is to report an observation I made during the ordeal. While we were waiting, a car passed by us at least every few minutes (as well as one polite and friendly cop). Out of the fifty or so cars, only two stopped to see if we needed help. Both were driven by teenagers. Say what you will about “these kids today,” some of them are certainly well-mannered and helpful.

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