Spending The Day In A Nice Way

A simple solution went unnoticed for good reason | Jane Esaki photo

A simple solution went unnoticed for good reason | Jane Esaki photo

It’s not like I wasn’t being nice.

The puzzled driver in the car next to me can’t start his car. I could ignore him because his rental company will take care of him anyway, the walking dead aren’t banging at his door and at worst he’ll be stranded at idyllic Hanalei Bay.

Nevertheless, like a good Samaritan, I offer my jumper cables. He probably knows how to jump-start a car, everyone does.

Except for me — after all, matching up the red and black cables to the positive and negative terminals on the battery is downright confusing because in life, blacks are sometimes positive and reds, negative. For example, if I’m “in the red,” I’m not doing so well. Anyway …

While he’s hooking up both cars, I ask if his pint-sized car is electric. He says he doesn’t know, at which point I question whether I should’ve even lent him the cables. But he’s already cranking up his ignition again and, oh no, his car still doesn’t start up. Not even a whimper.

Thank goodness my car is still running and I can drive away. Worry-free, I set out to meet my girlfriend for our weekly after-paddle lunch. It is usually followed by a leisurely afternoon of boutique shopping and coffee, but sadly not today because of prior commitments. In a few minutes, I arrive at the restaurant and park in front of a low stone wall. When I turn off the car, however, instead of the usual clean shut off, I hear a strange clicking. Worried, I crank the ignition and — oh my gosh — my car doesn’t start!

All I can think of is how that guy’s weird car drained my car. Maybe his car was incompatible with mine.

Or maybe it had some alien disease and mine contracted it, which means I can’t even ask someone to jump my car! The Twilight Zone soundtrack suddenly amps up.

Is this what I get for being nice?

While I mull over what to do, my girlfriend and I find a table and order lunch. I call for free roadside assistance and, with an ETA of 55 minutes, I rearrange my afternoon commitments while my friend Googles “How to Jump a Car.” Alarming news: The voltage of the subject cars must be compatible or jump-starting could cause severe damage to both of them. Uh oh.

I leave that dreadful thought behind as we dine and later visit some nearby shops. At some point, roadside assistance extends the wait another 55 minutes. Nothing we can do but continue to shop, talk, laugh and go for the afternoon cup of joe. Time flies and before we know it, we must order our iced coffee to go because help already has arrived.

The young woman takes one look at my battery and immediately notices that a band hidden under a red cover simply has slipped off the battery terminal. She places the band back on the terminal as quickly as a woman might slip into a no-nonsense sleeveless dress. I crank my ignition and guess what? The car purrs. Of course, because nothing was ever wrong with the battery!

In hindsight, though, I must’ve subconsciously wanted it to be. I chose to make assumptions and be selective in my thoughts, thereby limiting my potential to find the most obvious solution. By not finding the solution, I would be able to take back the afternoon that I earlier had planned to forfeit! Sitting on the stone wall with coffees in hand, my girlfriend and I laugh and laugh until we can’t laugh anymore. Turns out to be a full day of fun after all.

Good to know that it all started because I was being nice.

janeesaki@gmail.com

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