To the Caribbean brothers who helped me with my car and didn’t expect anything in return but seeing me drive off with a smile on my face: Thank You!
Today I went looking for a wig shop in North Hollywood. I found a wig shop, but no wig (not really keen on seeing myself with straight hair). Anyway, on the way, I saw this nice Jamaican food restaurant and thought that I would stop by on the way back for dinner. I went in, ordered my food and sat at the bar to wait. A very nice, and slightly tipsy, older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He thought I was from Haiti. When I said I wasn’t, he insisted that I have an accent. BK also says that I pronounce some words with a Nigerian accent. Strange, no? The gentleman and I continued to chat until my food came. I said goodbye, and left.
Got in my car, thinking, “I got some jerk chicken, I got some peas and rice.” So happy! Until I tried to start the car and it just made a clicking noise. Oh no! I tried a few more times and finally gave up in despair. What to do? I had forgotten to renew my auto club membership. I have no real friends here. The sun is going to go down in an hour. I start to panic and simultaneously get mad at myself for having a boyfriend that lives across the ocean. What to do next?
I went back to the Jamaican restaurant and asked generally if anyone knew anything about cars. One young guy paying for his food asked what’s wrong. I explained that the car wouldn’t turn over. The older gentleman started asking more questions and the young man took pity on me and said that it sounded like the battery and he would give me a jump. He drove his car over and opened my hood. Tried to turn the car over with no luck. The older gentleman had wondered out and had to try the key himself, recreating the same results. Then they both stood looking under the hood scratching their heads and mumbling something about batteries, alternators and starters.
Then they got the bright idea that they will jumpstart the engine by pushing the car down the street. I was wary about this. I had heard about manuals being able to do this but had never seen it performed. They tried to explain to me what to do: they would push the car forward and I should immediately throw the car into gear. I buried my face in my hands. I didn’t really understand and cars were coming, what if someone hit me? What if the car wouldn’t stop rolling and I hit a car? Older gentleman started getting impatient and started speaking in patois. Young guy was cool and explained. We tried it. I put my foot on the clutch and threw the car into first. Nothing happened.
Older gentleman got even more frantic – what happened? I don’t know! Did you put the car into gear? Yes! Did you take your foot off the clutch? No! Was I supposed to? YES!!! Okay, we tried again. I threw the car into first gear, took my foot off the clutch and the car jumped forward. Yay, it was running. I moved it into second gear and I was flying. I waved to the older gentleman who yelled, “Don’t stop the car!”
I drove off thinking about how much I love my black people. Two perfect strangers took time out of their day to make sure I got home safely. Wonderful!