The Kindness of Strangers

After our disappointing trolley ride, we cooled off at the Savannah Visitor Center where the car was parked. When we got in the car and turned the key, nothing happened. My car was dead and I felt a panicky knot in my stomach. I hoped it was just a dead battery. Jaime, bless her, wasn’t shy about asking folks around us for jumper cables. A girl on her way to Pensacola to join the Navy had some in the back of her car, so she pulled up next to us, attached the cables and …. nada. The car wouldn’t turn over. I was worried it might be something more major, like the alternator. We went back to the visitor center and asked after a good mechanic. Since it was 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon, though, the best I could hope for was to find a place to tow my car to. I was grateful that I had signed up for AT&T’s roadside assistance after my car accident last year, so I called them for a tow truck. Then I called my sister to tell her the bad news and let her know we would probably be staying in Savannah longer than expected. She optimistically told me that she had a friend once whose battery wouldn’t charge from a car, but when the tow truck driver helped her out, it started up. “That’s nice,” I said, “But I’m pretty sure it’s my alternator.”

The tow truck showed up and the driver said with a thick Southern drawl, “Well, let’s see what’s going on here.” I popped my hood and he took one look at the battery and said, “Well, here’s your problem. Your batteries corroded.” Then he used the half a can of Diet Coke I had in my car to wash away all that acid. I tried not to think about what that stuff does to my stomach because I’m not planning on giving it up any time soon. He pulled out the big battery and sure enough, the car started right up. I was so happy that I didn’t care that Amanda was right and I was wrong. Just so happy.

We jumped in the car and since it was hot, I turned on the A/C and there was a noticeable difference in the strength of the battery. Bad idea. I turned off the A/C and rolled down the windows. We waved good-bye to the tow truck driver and headed toward the Firestone up the street to get a battery. About two blocks up, we were waiting at a red light, and I decided that the battery was probably strong enough for the A/C (because, if I haven’t mentioned it enough yet, Savannah was hot!). Nope. The car died. In the middle of the intersection. Two blocks from the Firestone.

Luckily there was a family at the corner with some strapping young boys who helped me push the car around the corner so it was out of the way of traffic. And another nice gentleman pulled his truck over to ask if we needed some help. He had some jumper cables and was willing to give the car a jump (even while wearing his nice white suit on his way to church). By this time, it was 5:45 and the Firestone closes at 6. I called them up to tell them we were two blocks away and to please, please, please stay open just a little longer. They did. We got the new battery, and the car has started every time since then, much to my relief. I do have to say that while I am overjoyed at not having to get a new alternator, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have an excuse to stay longer in Savannah.

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