I know that helping stranded motorists is getting to be right up there with picking up sketchy looking hitchhikers, but sometimes I still feel bad when I swerve around someone who is broken down, or pass some old guy struggling with a bumper jack in a rainstorm. Most of the time, though, I don't stop. After all, if you listen to the media or read the internet, they're all murderers, robbers or rapists just waiting to lure you into their evil clutches.
Yesterday I'm driving home from my father's house just after dark, and it's starting to rain pretty hard. At that time of night, it's a pretty busy ride, and a lot of it is on smaller two-lane roads. You know the type -- one lane in each direction, with a double yellow line down the center. No shoulder, just a curb with sidewalks. People are constantly stopping for lights or left turns, slowing down for other people to pull into the parking lot of the video store... basically, I run through about 3 or 4 small villages like this on my way home, and a lot of it is stop and go.
Even so, I'm moving along pretty good, windshield wipers slapping back and forth, iPod cranking out some Sister Hazel, and as long as I'm moving I'm a happy guy. Put me in stopped traffic and I turn into an asshole.
Suddenly, my happiness is yanked out from under me as I see the long line of rain-blurred tail lights in front of me start lighting up in random order as people hit their brakes. I join the jerky train, and switch the iPod to the new Tool CD. (Tool helps the transformation along a little quicker.)
About a quarter mile down the road, I see the problem. There's a car stopped at a traffic light with its flashers on, and people are swerving around it. As I said before, it's a two lane road, so if there's someone coming in the other direction you have to wait to pass unless you're into playing chicken with an 18-wheeler. It's finally my turn, and I pass the stuck car. I can't see the driver, but the car is only about 50 feet or so from the entrance to a school parking lot.
I go about another half mile, and I'm feeling a little bad for them. They've got a bunch of pissed off strangers beeping at them non-stop, it's pouring out and it's not like I'm on any schedule or anything. I figure what the hell. I switch the music back, turn around, and prepare, in the face of almost certain death, to offer my assistance to the yet-to-be-determined rapist/murderer/robber. I'm silently hoping for robber, unless it's a hot chick then I'm hoping for rapist.
Anyway, I finally work my way back past the car, turn around *again* and pull into the school parking lot, because I don't want to add to the blocking of traffic. I jump out, splash over to the car and tap on the window. The window opens, and I see a guy on a cell phone. There are two other people in the car, an older guy, and a woman. He puts his hand over the phone and says, "Yes?"
"You want me to help you push the car around the corner?"
"Excuse me?" he says. Like he doesn't understand what I'm saying.
"Yeah," I say. "We can probably push you around the corner, it's only about 50 feet."
The guy looks at me and finally gets it. He says, "Oh no, I'm not broken down. I'm waiting for somebody."
It was my turn to not understand. "What? But..." I say, unable to comprehend what he just said to me.
"My car is fine," he says. "I'm just waiting for someone."
I was speechless.
"Thanks, though," he says. He gives me a dismissive little smile, and returns to his cellphone call as he closes the window.
I stand there in the pouring rain for a second, completely amazed, then walk back to my car.
It's just my luck. I don't get the murderer, robber or hot chick rapist.
I get the idiot who has his head so far up his own ass he shouldn't be allowed to own a car -- the prick on a cellphone who single-handedly put Tool back on my playlist.
I took a left out of the parking lot and turned around just so I could pass him again. I leaned on the horn as I swerved around him.
That Tool CD works damn fast.