2 times today I did not help people

I used to be the help anyone anywhere guy. Lady driving on a flat tire till it got no tire left, and stopped in the middle of the street half a block up because of the noise of the rim on the pavement. Sorry ain’t going there.
Up the street now headlights on and dimming trying to start the car, sounds like a broken tooth on the flywheel, ching ching ching for 1/2 hour now with trying for 30 seconds of cranking, then trying again, nope ain’t going there to try and advance the flywheel so the starter motor will catch. I hate to be so callous. Crotchty old fart I have become, now get off my lawn!

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I pick and choose who I help also. Some folks are oblivious to their car problems and will blame any future problems on the person who helped them. Some folks are very appreciative of the help. Kind of harsh to make that cut but I got tired of folks having the same problem and not dealing with it and making it my problem.

In the last year, in my sons neighborhood, we helped two folks fix a flat, both ladies who had no mechanical knowledge. The one lady gushed over us and wanted to pay us, we declined the cash. The other was almost an entitled Karen who barely grunted a thanks. The Karen always has cars with dents, low tires and generally unkept cars in her driveway.


Let’s see if I can adequately recall my latest. It seems like it bothers me for a long time if I pass up someone that asks for help so I give the guy $20 at the truck stop who says he and his wife and kid are just trying to get home. I guess I could have filled his tank.

At any rate a month or so ago I had to go pick up out of town an item I had ordered. It was kind of snowy and getting dark and wanted to get home but I stopped at the rest area, 'cause you never know if a truck will be jack knifed or something on the way. So coming out of the rest area a guy comes up in shorts and a mask and beckons me over. He just grunted and showed me a note with some phone numbers and flat tire written on it. I asked if he needed help and all he could do was grunt and I couldn’t make heads or tails of the note. At any rate I just concluded there was nothing I could do because what would I say if I called one of the numbers? I just passed him off to the attendant that was inside. As I left there was no car parked with a flat tire so have no idea. Maybe a trucker, I don’t know. Maybe the patrol is better equipped to deal with something like that or at least call someone that is. So I don’t know if the guy was deaf or dumb or what but just a very strange encounter and still wish I could have done something. I wish he would have just needed money. That would have been easy.

We had a guy on this board living in his car and not enough money to get gas to run his car to stay warm or get to a job he got hired at, I pmed him and sent him $50 Western union, guess I am not totally heartless. He said I want to repay you, I said pass it on.

Well that’s classy. My BIL drove truck and when he’d come through town we’d usually meet for coffee at the truck stop. So one time we were there and a guy in a booth had finished eating and was being given a hard time by the manager because he couldn’t pay his bill. My BIL just went over and paid it saying “what, you’ve never been hungry?” Kinda stuck with me because you never know the circumstances.


He was having car trouble and you guys helped him, sometimes you do not know how a little help can go a long way!

I’m old(er) and I usually help people when I can. Last time a young man was on the side of the road about 1\4 mile from my house. I seen it was a dragging heat shield. Had him pull into my garage and I temporarily wired it up to get him home. He was genuinely gratefully and even offered money. I refuse on these types of help. But this one got me thinking. When I was younger and when I started I literally had nothing. I would help strangers like this my entire life. But back then (30 &40 years ago) is when I would seem to get more ungrateful and rude responses for my help. It seems to me in the last decade or so, now that I’m pretty secure, that more than likely my help is dramatically more appreciated. Maybe kids nowadays are generally cooler than us old fogeys give them credit for.


I always carry a small tool kit along with a bag of misc. such as wire, wire ends, clamps, small hose, duct tape, a simple code reader, and so on. I have a tendency to pull over and help stranded motorists if at all possible. Managed to get most of them going again even if it was a jury rigged repair while telling them it needed to be redone correctly when they got to their destination.
People have offered to pay me but Ive always refused.

On my way home one well dressed man was broke down in a near new VW so being an ex VW tech I figured I would give it a go. Took me about 7 or 8 minutes to sort it out. The trigger pin on the fuel pump relay was making a poor contact in the fuse block. I tweaked the pin on the relay and all was well. Since the car was still under warranty I advised him to make no mention of this at any dealer service appts.

He asked me who I worked for and when I said myself he then offered me a job running his fleet department at his oil company and gave me his card. Totally caught me off guard but I respectfully turned it down. Told him I would keep it in mind though.


Years ago, in the days of real bumpers, I had a tripod jack that was relatively stable and a 4 sided lug wrench. I felt comfortable stopping to change a tire. I also have a set of jumper cables, but with today’s electronics, I am more hesitant to jump start a car.
Some 35 years ago, I had already parked my car at a gated parking lot at the university where I taught. There was a Plymouth at the entrance gate and a line of cars behind the Plymouth. The woman driving the Plymouth was running the starter, but the engine wouldn’t fire. I raised the hood and noticed that a wire wasn’t pushed all the way on to the coil resistor. I pushed the wire on and the car started immediately. A couple of days later, the woman who drove the Plymouth saw me in the parking lot and asked what I did. I had her lift the hood and showed her. She said she had had the problem and sometimes the car would start and sometimes it wouldn’t. The shop where she took the car couldn’t find the problem. She wanted to hire me as her mechanic. I declined as I know just enough to be dangerous.
I did get a call from a friend a before Christmas. She lives 20 miles south of town and had come into town and her Toyota Prius wouldn’t start. She called me and I came over with my jumper cables. I tried to jump the 12 volt battery on the Prius with no success. I measured the voltage of the battery and it was 8.6. i gave up at that point. I knew very little about Prius electrical systems, but reasoned that the 20 mile trip into town should have charged the battery. She wanted to go buy another 12 volt battery, but I wasn’t sure that was the problem, so I had her take my Sienna and call the Toyota dealer to come get the Prius. I have since read up on the hybrid cars electrical systems. There is no alternator. The 12 volt battery is charged through an inverter/converter system. Her problem did turn out to be the 12 volt battery, but I was hesitant to replace the battery.
Two weeks after that happened on a Sunday afternoon, my friend called again. We had a recording session for a Christmas concert about 18 miles west of where I live. She had a flat tire on the Prius in her driveway and wasn’t sure how to change the tire. I wasn’t sure about the jack points on the Prius. Time was short, but I drove the 20 miles south to pick her up and then raced to our recording session. We slid in with 5 minutes to spare. I usually like to be at a gig half an hour or so early to warm up on my horn. We are both section leaders–horn and flute–but the adrenaline was pumping and we both played fine. I just wish my automobile knowledge was more up to date.

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I’ve been the grateful recipient of help from strangers several times over the years.

Once was while driving out of town in a rental car and the horn started blaring on its own. I pulled off the highway in the middle of nowhere, left the engine running, and opened the hood to pull the wires to the horn. Alas, it was the first FW drive, fuel injected engine I’d seen and I couldn’t find where the horn was to silence it. Thankfully a farmer came along and helped. The wires were where he couldn’t get a hand on them. So he used his big fence cutter, just able to get the tip of the cutter on the wires to snip them.

Another time I crested the hill of a two-lane local road to find a pair of teenagers playing chicken coming head on from too damn close to avoid. I made the choice of putting the car in the ditch. The punks thought it funny. Other drivers stopped to be sure my mom and I were okay and got the car pushed back out of the ditch.

The car was drivable so I turned around and drove my mom back home. I was okay until I got out of the car at home, walked around to my dad mowing grass in the backyard and burst into tears saying I’d put mom’s car in a ditch. His response was to worry if Mom and I were okay.

Next morning Dad took the car into the shop. Damage was some sheared body bolts, something in front suspension bent, and minor cosmetic dings.

Turned out the mechanic had encountered the same punks only a few minutes later on a nearby road trying the same game of chicken on him. Instead he ran them off the road, yanked them out of their car and “explained” things to them. Then he left them stuck in the ditch with a broken axle and broken noses.

Sometimes things just work out.


More times than I can recall I have repaired automobiles for inlaws and their children and they kept letting it slip their minds to pay the bills. When I replaced the front brakes on a car and months later the young owner brought the car back and said her mother was sure I would warranty the work when the brakes failed and needed a master cylinder. From then on I was always 2 weeks behind and referred relatives to the chain tire stores or dealers. And I had business cards for 2 wreckers that I didn’t use to hand out to any who was broken down somewhere.


One of the best examples of Karma I’ve ever heard.


I still always stop. A few times I would have been stranded miles away from even a gas station, the passersby saved my day (back before cell phones). It takes so little to help compared to what it would take to call someone out. I hope to teach someone what to do and hope they’ll spread the generosity.

I saw a guy who looked like he was ‘tightening’ the bolt on his crank (bicycle) this afternoon. Sure enough that was it. I lent him my 8mm allen, told him about an appropriate tightening schedule (can’t tighten it up to the target torque in 1 go). I saw the biggest crowd ever on the Bosque shared-use trail - all the new bicyclists from the pandemic on the first nice weekend day of the year.

The guy with the broken tooth on the flywheel sounded as though he were at home, which is different.

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What has happened to you? That does not sound like it comes with good vibes.

I find the opposite to be the case as I age. I am more than willing to help. It puzzles me that you have become callous (" I hate to be so callous."), especially if you hate it.

:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

I am willing to help anyone that does not appear stupid beyond belief. Saw 3 guys trying to push a car with a dead battery uphill to the other car for a jump, good luck with that! Was out snowshoeing and a lady had lost her phone, and after about 10 minutes of her digging in the 3 feet of snow, I said to her friend you can borrow my cell to call her phone to help locate it, she says oh I have a cell, I’ll call her, 30 seconds later she locaed her phone 10 feet from where she had been digging around.

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Years ago I was bringing in shopping carts from the parking lot when we got a bunch of complaints about a car that had rolled out of it’s spot into the entry drive, I would have been grateful if even one of those folks had offered to push the car out of the way instead of yelling at me about it. I walked over and gave that 80’s Tercel a test push and then rolled it into another spot all by myself. Part of the problem was that because they were paging the owner of a Toyota Pickup the owner had no idea it was their car causing the commotion.


To me It’s difficult to judge exactly what was at work behind her decision to drive on that flat.

Did she fear for her safety in that location? Was she near home and thought she could make it a short distance? Was she without a cell phone or… ?

Back in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s B.C. (Before Cell Phones) my young bride-to-be (nearly a decade younger than I am), a very intelligent woman, could have been pictured driving on a flat, ruining the tire, rim … whatever.

Her father, my father-in-law, also intelligent, valued the safety of his family over automobiles. He reviewed safety measures with his 3 children, regularly. My wife-to-be was instructed to drive on a flat tire, if necessary (bad neighborhood, speeding traffic, etcetera), to get to a safe location or to arrive at a pay phone/repair facility. He would pay any and all expenses for the consequences. He knew the possible perils out there for a beautiful young woman, alone.

Shortly after we were married I got a Radio Shack “Bag Phone” and contract (early cell phone) and felt some sense of security and relief when she commuted to work/daycare and back with our toddler son with that high tech phone in the 76 Toronado, above the 45th parallel, especially in winter!

:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

I understand @Barkydog . Living in snow country I will often see someone drive like a total idiot. Not making mistakes, but driving like an idiot. I really hope to see them in a snow bank just to get their dangerous butts off the road before they hurt someone. But would I help them? I don’t know. If I wasn’t sure he was ok, I would definitely stop. If he was ok, I would either keep going if I didn’t have time to assist, or I would stop and help just to see what stupid looks like and maybe rub his nose in it a little. There is stupid but there is also the incapable for intelligence. I don’t want to mix these 2 up. I have an easier time helping the incapable than the stupid.

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A few years ago I was in traffic, waiting for a light to change and I saw that the car in front of me was spewing coolant on the ground, so much that it was probably a broken or disconnected hose. I was on a motorcycle so I rode up to the driver’s side and gestured down, thinking she would figure out that something was wrong under her car. After fumbling around in there she opened the window and I told her the car was leaking a lot of water and steam. She put the tranny in neutral, opened the door to look and let the car roll backwards until it crashed into the car behind her. At that point I left. It seemed like the s**tshow was about to begin.

After living in the Bay Area for 25 years I’m amazed that cars aren’t just randomly crashing into each other all the time. A lot of people here are from other countries, speak little English and are people who only started driving later in life. Their skills are poor, at best. Watching 4 or 5 lanes of freeway traffic flow at 65 or 70 mph I can’t believe it all works as well as it does.

My oldest friend, from my undergraduate days, last owned a car in the late '60s–until he bought a tiny econobox about 7 years ago. He constantly complains about people honking at him, but after a white-knuckle ride with him I found out that he usually drives ~10 mph under the speed limit. In the city, he creeps along at ~20 mph, and on a highway he maxes out at ~40-45 mph.

After observing that behavior, and hearing him admit that he is frequently confused about where he is going and about how to get home (despite the fact that he rarely drives more than 10 miles from his home), I understand why people honk at him so often, and I have decided that I value my life too much to ever ride in his car again.