New Castle News

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May 17, 2014

Josh Drespling: Maybe the grass isn’t always greener under the hood — or the hoodie

NEW CASTLE — I toiled in my yard as the hot sun beat down on me. I completed a list of chores and turned my attention to mowing the lawn.

This would be the maiden trimming for the summer, and I hoped that my mower and weed whacker would be in good operating condition.

I pushed the riding mower from the garage, checked the oil, and pulled the spark plug just to make sure everything was as it should be. With a quick turn of the key, the ol’ girl fired right up. A sigh of relief came over me, as fixing a mower was not on the to-do list and was perhaps the last thing I wanted to do at this juncture. I and the mower were ready and raring to go, so off we went.

A few passes around the very exterior of the lawn and a couple more passes next to the house and she sputtered, moaned, and died right there in front of the house.

Turns out these new-fangled internal combustion engines need fuel to run. Namely gasoline. I ventured to my shed, only to find that all three of my gas cans were dry as a bone. Despite my ragged appearance, it was off to the corner gas station to purchase some of that beloved petrol.

I pulled into the station and filled my cans. I also topped off my car while I was there. As I was pumping, I noticed an older black Jetta with its hood up. There were two younger girls who looked quite frustrated. They were going in and out of the store and one of them was on her cell phone. I also noticed a twenty-something man. He was clad in a black hoodie, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, and tattoos peeking out from underneath the hoodie.

As I stood there, leaning against my car pumping my gas, I contemplated helping them. My mind floated to the times not-so-long-ago that I was along the roadside wishing somebody would help me. When I saw the man pick up a bottle of antifreeze, I immediately knew that they were having some type of trouble with their car overheating. This was my cue, as I have spent the last several months dodging and repairing an overheating problem in my own vehicle. I felt like I knew all the tricks to that situation, and to leave them hanging would just not be right.

I completed my transaction at the pump and put my gas cans into my trunk. I made my way over to the disabled car. I proceeded to ask the guy in the hoodie if he needed any help. He just kind of grunted at me with his nearly depleted cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I wasn't sure if that was a yes or a no, so I persisted. I knew what it was like to be in that situation.

I have to admit, I was a bit taken by his begrudging manner of accepting my help. I was thinking that I could have just gone home and a had a nice cool beverage, but no, I was nice enough to offer to help. Maybe I was looking for a pat on the back or a thunderous round of applause for my gesture. No matter my subconscious intentions, I was offing help to a person in need.

Maybe his non-response was some form of residual Neanderthal male posturing or even a type of self-preservation.

We both stood over the engine of this car for a moment, feeling each other out. Either way, I felt my presence was unwelcomed, but I tried once more to assist him. I told him I lived just down the road if he needed some tools. I also showed him a quick little trick under the hood. I figured it would be best if I was on my way.

He eventually said thanks and the girls both smiled and thank me as I walked back to my car. Maybe it was me. Maybe I seemed threatening in my tattered old lawn-mowing clothes. Maybe I just smelled bad. Who knows? At least I tried to lend a hand to a fellow motorist.


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