Friday, July 17, 2009

Sometimes I love this city.

OK, I always love this city. But sometimes I love it more than usual.

Earlier this week, Dave linked to a fellow San Antonian's adventures with a crispy-crittering minivan:

Over a dozen folks stopped in person while the van was in flames to make sure I had gotten out of it okay. Some had followed me off of Nacogdoches Road after seeing the flames under my van. I’m sure some of them were just stopping by and snapping photos with their cell phones, but I really didn’t care. One kind lady, in a small red SUV, even offered to give me a ride home after the tow truck came, but I declined gracefully by saying my wife would give me a ride home from the impound lot after the van was towed. I’m assuming she meant to give me a ride “back to my own home.” :)
Last night it was my turn, though thankfully the incident didn't involve a) my vehicle or b) fire.

My non-evil cousin, Becky is house sitting for her sister and came over last night to ask me for a ride up to the corner store. Seems she's been having problems with her Plymouth overheating and dying on her. She had a diagnostic run on it & they said that she needed new spark plugs. (I need to ask her who she took it to, but I'm guessing Pep Boys.) She stopped for gas yesterday & it died at the pump, so some men helped her push it up into a parking space where she left it with permission from Valero employees.

So I gave her a ride up the street and she got in her van and it started right up. She pulled up beside where I'd parked & said her headlights weren't working. MUCH less than optimal being that this was well after dark. "Well, follow me home." She said she'd honk if it died again. I waited til there was absolutely no traffic (room enough for the both of us to turn out) and turned. She didn't. She's an overly cautious driver, so it took me about half a block to realize she wasn't going to go anywhere. I turned around and came back, paused beside her. "It died on you already, didn't it?"


Parked my car, walked back. She's sitting in the drive in the minivan. It's on a little incline. We can't push it back (I'm confident I could have pushed it if it was on a flat surface; I've pushed bigger vehicles before). We weren't there a minute before we had five guys pushing the van back into a parking space.

They figured it was her battery giving her problems. She broke out the cables and one of the men pulled up his car and they jumped it. It started up. Men scattered. I stood by her a second and we talked about her driving it around the trailer park when she got back so the battery could charge up. I notice it's sounding kind of funny.

"Stand on the gas a little bit."

"I am."

Bad news. It died again as we sat there. I told her just to leave it for the night; it was too much trouble to deal with right then. I had to pull my car up and jump it for her just enough for her to get the windows rolled up (she has a bunch of stuff in her van). One of the men who'd helped earlier came back out, seeing that we were still having trouble. We told him what had happened with the van dying again and he went to take a look at it.

Well, the problem isn't the spark plugs. Or the battery. Or the alternator, as we'd also thought likely. The serpentine belt had come loose (thinking on it, since it wasn't snapped, I'm gonna bet the tensioner arm broke; we had that happen on Rob's Corsica & it killed the alternator).

So we had a group of strangers stop to help and they even did a better job of finding out what was wrong than whoever Becky and her husband paid to do a diagnostic test!

Good to live here, where people still stop to help, even in a bad part of town.

1 comment:

Lee Besing said...

Thanks for the cross post about my crispy van. I ended up getting a tad less than $2k out of the insurance company for my 1997 Plymouth Voyager. But I found a real good deal on a 2007 Chrysler Town & Country mini-van with less than 29k miles on it, so factory warranty was still in effect.

I always try to help others, my hobby is amateur radio operation which means lots of volunteer work (like the triathlon I helped with yesterday), and my job is computer service (fixing computers and removing viruses, etc), so it was a great feeling to see that urge to "help others" coming back with me as the recipient.

Tell Becky that there is a great mechanic place on Bandera Rd (near Grissom) called Bring Your Own Parts. You can bring your own parts, or let them buy parts for you at their lower cost. Quotes on brake jobs were usually 1/2 the cost of Brake Check or Just Brakes, as an example. And no, I don't work there nor have any financial interest in that shop. :)