The Tire Iron and the Tamale

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The Tire Iron and the Tamale By JUSTIN HORNER During this past year I’ve had three instances of car trouble: a blowout on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out-of-gas situation. They all happened while I was driving other people’s cars, which for some reason makes it worse on an emotional level. And on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my own car, and know enough not to park on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel. Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out “for safety reasons,” but that I could buy a really [censored] one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like “this country is going to [censored] in a handbasket,” which I actually said. But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English. One of those guys stopped to help me with the blowout even though he had his whole family of four in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep. I put signs in the windows, big signs that said, “NEED A JACK,” and offered money. Nothing. Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a van pulled over, and the guy bounded out. He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English. He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it. Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top and we were in business. I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off. [censored]. No worries: he ran to the van and handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a new tire iron. She was back in 15 minutes. We finished the job with a little sweat and cussing (the log started to give), and I was a very happy man. The two of us were filthy and sweaty. His wife produced a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I’d send them a gift for being so awesome. She said they lived in Mexico. They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks. Then they were going to pick peaches, then go back home. After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the Jeep, the girl called out and asked if I’d had lunch. When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale. This family, undoubtedly poorer than just about everyone else on that stretch of highway, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took a couple of hours out of their day to help a strange guy on the side of the road while people in tow trucks were just passing him by. But we weren’t done yet. I thanked them again and walked back to my car and opened the foil on the tamale (I was starving by this point), and what did I find inside? My $20 bill! I whirled around and ran to the van and the guy rolled down his window. He saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no. All I could think to say was, “Por favor, por favor, por favor,” with my hands out. The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: “Today you, tomorrow me.” Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it. In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank. https://vickycollinsonline.com/2011/03/06/the-tire-iron-and-the-tamale-by-justin-horner/ I thought this was a neat story, no offense meant to anyone, nor is this a troll or political thingy.
 
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My inclination would be to help, but we've had too many robberies/carjackings masquerading as a breakdown that it scares me. It's a shame. John
 
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Great story. A word that I have recently come to appreciate lately is,,,, KINDNESS. It's something that just isn't there anymore. But when you do find it, you feel great. Weather Giving or Receiving. Quoted from above. My inclination would be to help, but we've had too many robberies/carjackings masquerading as a breakdown that it scares me. It's a shame. Sad, but true. I feel the same way.
 

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Originally Posted By: larryinnewyork
Great story. A word that I have recently come to appreciate lately is,,,, KINDNESS. It's something that just isn't there anymore. But when you do find it, you feel great. Weather Giving or Receiving. Quoted from above. My inclination would be to help, but we've had too many robberies/carjackings masquerading as a breakdown that it scares me. It's a shame. Sad, but true. I feel the same way.
yes, i stopped last winter to help a broken down motorist and i could sense some hesitation in accepting help.
 
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Great story smile I have seen too many horror stories about stopping for someone broken down.. Too hesitant to do it despite the slim chance the person is a psycho.
 
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I've done that a few times over the years. The one I remember in 1957. I came upon a loaded 18 wheeler stopped at the bottom of a long grade. It was in Feb. and it was cold and getting dark. He flagged me down and asked for a ride to the next town, Cadillac, MI I think. Asked what was the problem, he said that his starter died. Asked if he had a chain, yes, said hook it up and I'll tow you to the top of the hill then you can coast start it. I was driving a 47 Dodge 1 1/2 ton freezer box truck. He laughed, with that thing? I said to just hook it up. I backed in position, we hooked up and I eased off in 1st. It was a long grade, ~ a mile, easily pulled him to the top, we shook hands , he took off and I went to my next and last stop of the day. It was a local family restaurant. After I unloaded and the owner paid the bill, he said, go out front, your supper is ready, What? Just go. Ok, got my meal, went to pay for it and the casher said, already paid by a trucker who was in here earlier. Couldn't have been my guy as He turned off way before before town. I delivered there once a week and I never paid for supper for the rest of that year. Oh, and I was 19 years old. PS: a Few weeks later the Dodge gave it's last and put a rod through the block. In less then a year I had had several adventures with that truck, but it had heart. I missed it even though they give me a nearly new Chevy 2 ton reefer box truck. I had a couple of adventures with that one as well. PPS: Some months later while talking to the owner, I asked if he knew who the trucker was that bought my dinners. He said no, it wasn't one trucker, I was a bunch of guys working for that company who when they stopped for lunch, would buy one for me. Paying it forward...
 
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As a ratty looking college student in the 1970's with long hair I used to hitch hike all over the place, out on the interstates and around the town where I worked in the summer. Never had to wait all that long to get picked up. Some of my trips lasted 300-400 miles. Once I even got picked up by a young 20 something women with her three year old in the back seat and her 6 month old in the front. I held the baby most of the way for the several hours that we were both going the same way. I don't think there are many people left on the roads these days in the northeast that will stop to give a hitch-hiker a ride. Times they be a changing.
 
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Good story; good inoculation against the cynicism in today's media (and even occasionally on bitog) Have a few stories like that over the years, but none too recent as cars just don't break down like they used to.... ah the 'good old days' Stopped one time for a guy from the south end of Hartford who ran out of gas @ 11pm in an 'extremely white' suburb. He had a built Fox body mustang and after my friend Jim and I got a can of gas for him, he asked me if there was anything he could do for me. I asked him to let me run his car down the Berlin Turnpike, upon which he tossed me the keys and he and I took off and left Jim to drive his Civic HF home by himself. It was only a 15 minute ride, but I remember it to this day, even 30 years later.
 
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