10 July 2014


I made myself some chai this morning and took myself for a walk. Not an exercise walk, just the sort of walk that ensures that I do not miss the entirety of a beautiful day because I am stuck to my computer.

On the way back from my meandering, I saw a truck stopped about 20 feet back from a stoplight. My first thought was to shake my head at Gone West drivers. They love to leave huge gaps between themselves and the crosswalk box/the car in front of them. Space is frequently wasted. 

I had to walk over and back a block to mail a letter, so I walked past the truck three times. By the third time, I had noticed that it wasn't moving through cycles of the light.

"Can you put your hazard lights on?" I called to the woman in the driver's seat.

"No!" she said. "Nothing is working!"

There was a construction site a block over, with a lane of the street blocked off by orange cones. I went over to it and asked the guy loading the flatbed truck if I could use one of his cones. I explained that the truck was stalled in the middle of the road without lights and I was worried that one of the cars coming up on the light wouldn't see that it was stopped and so would run into the back of it.

He came over with me to help try to push the truck out of traffic.

Only the truck was so dead that even putting the key in the running position wouldn't allow her to shift into neutral (I knew there was a reason to drive a manual transmission). 

I waved oncoming cars over into the other lane while the guy from the construction site went to fetch a cone, which was actually more like a skinny orange pole. 

People in this country are so well trained. It's like magic. You put up an orange cone, and cars just miraculously move aside. We didn't even have any authority for the orange cone! We just put it there! In the middle of the road! And people responded like it was an officially sanctioned traffic device!

A van driving by asked if we needed help and I sort of nodded and shrugged at the same time, so they turned around and came back and parked behind the cone.

One of the guys from the van crawled under the truck and did something, I know not what, and suddenly the truck was in neutral. I was in awe. You can do that? I had no idea. 

That guy pretty much on his own (the other guy from the van was directing traffic and the cone guy had abandoned his cone to get back to work) pushed the F150 around the corner to a parking spot. I pretended that I was helping, but I had my purse and my tea mug in one hand, and I was wearing a skirt, so I probably looked like a comedy sketch of a woman pretending to help push a truck. 

After we got the whole thing straightened out, I went back to my apartment feeling full of purpose and vigor, like I had done something helpful already with my day. 

Then I called Sallie Mae to talk about my student loans. Pro tip: talking to Sallie Mae is guaranteed to ruin your day. Never do it if you can help it.

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