The other day I was stopped on my way out of the grocery store by a tow truck parked in the middle of the road. Someone’s car had broken down in the middle lane which I thought was a terrible place to have a breakdown. For them, that is. It didn’t affect me, really—I could have backed up and gone out another way, and the tow truck driver was nearly done. With no one waiting behind me I was fine sitting and waiting. I also try to limit my trips out but I figured being in the car provided more than enough social distance and safety and, well, it’s precisely because I try to limit my trips out that I was actually happy for an excuse to sit and listen to the radio for a few minutes. There may be multiple vaccines for COVID-19 available now but there’s only one cure for cabin fever, but that’s another story.
Sitting there I also thought about some of my own experiences with tow truck drivers. We had a car die in the driveway once, which gave me more than a taste of cabin fever because not only could I not go anywhere but I had to sit and wait for a tow truck driver and when one did finally show up he couldn’t get the winch attached because our car had died as I was moving it so it was at a funny angle. He and I struggled to move it. His truck didn’t have a winch, which seemed odd for a tow truck, but I guess AAA was trying to save money by sending the cheapest guy they could get. The two of us weren’t able to get it up onto his truck so he left and I had to call AAA again and ask them to send another tow truck. The next day the same guy with the same truck showed up but he had some other guys with him. I helped them get the car up onto the truck even though I was tempted to let them do it by themselves after he made a wisecrack about how I wasn’t strong enough to move the car, because he was an asshole.
Then there was the time my wife and I were in Murfressboro, about an hour south of Nashville, and our van that we’d driven down there died. It had been having some trouble and driving it forty miles probably wasn’t the best idea, but we’d made a commitment and decided to take the chance. And the important thing is the van made it all the way to where we were going before it died. So I called AAA and while my wife stayed there—she later got a ride home with some friends—I rode with the tow truck driver. And he was a really nice guy who told me his name was Rick and he and his family moved to Tennessee from Miami and the work was better even if the climate wasn’t. The repair place where he dropped the van off wasn’t that far from our house. In fact it’s where we usually took our cars to get the oil changed, and a few times I’d left a car there and walked home because I’d rather be stuck at home without a car than stuck in a waiting room even if they do have free coffee and an interesting assortment of magazines from the eighties as well as The Shining playing on their big screen TV. Rick wouldn’t let me walk, though, and insisted on going the little extra distance to drop me off at home.
“Hey, thanks for letting me give you a ride,” he said. “Most of the time I’m out driving by myself so it was nice to have a partner for a change.”
I was a little stunned by that but I thanked him for giving me a ride and I hope he didn’t take it the wrong way when I also thanked him for not being an asshole.