I have a very old car that has significant problems on a regular basis. I can’t even count the times I have been stuck awaiting a jump start at many a gas station, sometimes hours away from home. I even had to pick out and install a new battery myself in a parking lot two weeks ago.
Last night, my car was having power issues so I went outside this morning to inspect it before moving on with my day. When I popped the hood, the part I was having an issue with started sparking and additionally, I noticed that I had a flat tire.
My immediate reaction was to call my dad, but I was unable to reach him. My boyfriend was out playing golf and my roommate would soon be going to work. I began to panic, with no one to turn to for help. I was supposed to meet my cousins for brunch soon and in a few hours, was going to take my boyfriend to the airport to catch a flight. Realizing that none of this would be possible without a working car, tears began to fill my eyes and my heart was pounding. I was about to lose it, but then I told myself “you can’t do this right now. You have stuff to do. You need to figure this out on your own.”
Thankfully, my car was able to handle driving a few blocks down the street to the nearest gas station so I could air up my tires, and to my excitement, that was the solution to that problem. But I still had to resolve my power issue.
Lucky for me, there was an AutoZone across the street, so I went in hoping to get a second opinion on my power issue. There were two employees inside; a disgruntled man who seemed annoyed with the customer he was assisting, and a friendly girl about my age. If I’m being honest, although the girl seemed to have a much better attitude, I was hoping to be helped by the man because I assumed he would be more knowledgeable about cars and would be more capable in fixing my issue.
But I was so wrong. Rachelle showed genuine concern for my problem and went out to look at my car with me. She helped me pick out the part I needed and then installed it for me while we talked about our dads and all they had taught us about cars. I felt so relieved when leaving AutoZone and I was so grateful for her help. She was not only able to identify and resolve my power issue, but was also lifted my spirits and brightened my day.
Immediately after leaving AutoZone, I went back to the gas station to fill my tank before moving on with the rest of the day. As I pulled up to a pump, I saw a girl pacing around her car, hood open, trying to reach someone on the phone. It reminded me of the many times I was stuck at a gas station with a broken down car, just praying someone would offer to help me in my very obvious time of need.
Only about a month prior, I was stuck at a gas station by myself in Austin with a dead battery. I asked 4 different men if they could help me jump start my car and all said no for one reason or another. I took me bursting into tears and camping out in my dead car before the gas station clerk finally reconsidered and came out to help me.
Keeping this and many other bad experiences in mind, I asked the girl if she was okay. “No…” she stated desperately and bluntly. She said she didn’t know what was wrong with her car and I could tell she was on the verge of a panic attack, just like I was not even an hour ago. “Do you want me to jump start it for you?” I asked her. “Oh my god, that would be amazing!” she exclaimed with a sigh of relief.
When she told me she wasn’t even sure how to jump start a car, I told her than I had had quite a bit of practice and had been in her position more times than I cared to admit. In fact, I was just stressing about my own car troubles that very morning.
Within a few moments, her car was running again and she was elated. She kept thanking me and even said “Can I give you a hug? I am so grateful!! You don’t know how much you just helped me!”
As I was putting the jumper cables back in my trunk and wishing Destiny good luck, another woman passed us on her way inside the gas station. “Now THAT looks like two strong women right there!!” she exclaimed loudly and proudly. “Yeah!” I agreed as I got inside my newly repaired car and drove away.
So although this morning started with a sense of panic and self doubt, it ended up being pretty uplifting. Of course I would have just as easily accepted or offered help had Rachelle and Destiny been men. But there was something empowering about us women going above and beyond to help each other solve an issue that is usually considered to be a man’s area of expertise.
So the next time my car has an issue (which at this rate will probably be next week), instead of going straight to the men for help, I will keep my eyes open for another smart and capable woman to lend me a helping hand.