WITH the cubic craziness that has seemingly engulfed the world nowadays, I still cling to the belief that us humans are an okay bunch, especially at a one-on-one level. It is because of this (and an unwavering fear of karma) that I try to put myself out there when others are in need, especially if some poor bugger has found themselves in trouble on our roads.
After all, people have helped me before when one of my normally trusty steeds has shit itself in traffic, whether it be a jump-start, lending tools or even just giving the car a push, so it’s long been a courtesy I try and pay forward.
Sadly, I’ve found my attempts at being a good person are increasingly being thwarted by, well, morons. I have been left speechless by the behaviour of a couple of people I’ve attempted to help lately, which unfortunately has left me just about ready to ignore anyone else in need.
During a busy work day recently, I came across a middle-aged bloke in a late-model Chrysler who’d hit a small but flooded crossing with a bit too much gusto and most likely hydrolocked his engine. The rain had stopped but the traffic was starting to bank up on this narrow stretch, as this bloke was stranded dead-centre on this crossing. I pulled up thinking I would tow him out with my work fourby, but a couple of young guys stopped behind in a truck and offered to help me push him clear.
The water was about shin-high, so it was off with the shoes and socks and the three of us waltzed over, with a hoard of people watching from the comfort of their air con. The driver was still in the car on his phone, high ’n’ dry with windows up, so I tapped on the glass and motioned that we would push him.
He gave me the thumbs-up and we gave it a heave. Nothing.
“Take the park brake off,” I yelled. Nothing. “Put the transmission into neutral!” No worries, I thought, it’s probably not every day this shirt ’n’ tie bloke needs a push.
Anyway, we got ol’ Captain Flood clear of the crossing, but he offered up no thanks – he didn’t even bother to open the door. I shrugged my shoulders, while one of the young guys yelled a sarcastic “You’re welcome!” to the seemingly oblivious driver.
I made my way back to my ute, which was parked in ankle-deep water, just in time to have some impatient bitch tear through and bow-wave me with her Territory. Yep, now I was satched to my jocks. I just shook my head, said goodbye to the young blokes and thanked them for being decent – even if the stranded driver and following traffic didn’t provide the same courtesy.
This experience didn’t totally deter me from trying to help someone in need, but it did make me think twice about giving a shit. Sure enough, within a matter of days I found myself in similar situation.
I was heading home one Friday just on dusk, when I saw a car parked awkwardly on the exit side of a single-lane roundabout, with a young bloke – obviously the driver – looking like he was trying to fix something. The red P-plates might have been fresh, but his buzz-box wore dirty flat black paint, no more visible in the fading light than the full-black garb he was wearing. His lights were off and I watched a couple of cars swing wide at the last minute to avoid hitting him. To make matters worse, he was sitting with his legs under the right front brake assembly as the car teetered on a scissor jack.
I was still raw from the Captain Flood debacle, so I initially drove on by, but my conscience got the better of me so I threw a U-turn to go back and help.
I pulled up behind, just proud of the kerb to create a corridor of safety down his driver’s side, threw the hazards on and hopped out to see if the bloke needed a hand.
“My wheel fell off going around the roundabout,” he told me, pointing to the alloy mag sitting in front of the car, and showed me the single wheel nut he’d managed to scrounge off the road.
“No worries,” I said as his novice error became obvious to my mechanically inclined brain. The rear wheels were still standard steelies, and I saw two more steel wheels sitting on the laid-down rear seat. I suggested we refit those two wheels up front, borrowing a wheel nut from each corner in order to limp him home. He told me he had some mates coming to help who fitted the alloy fronts with him earlier that afternoon.
They arrived a moment later – four teenagers in a similar-spec 90s refugee. The first one marched straight up to me and said what surely must be a modern take on an old-school ‘hello’: “Who are you?”
His tone immediately had my hackles up. “I stopped to help your mate here,” I replied.
“We don’t need your help mate; you can f*ck off!”
“Are you serious, mate? You are seriously talking to me like this,” I said in disbelief, the blood beginning to boil in my brain.
“We know what we’re doing mate, so see you later. Bye bye!” he added with a sarcastic child’s wave.
My inner William Foster (Michael Douglas’s character from the film Falling Down) was woken from its long slumber, and I let loose.
“You know what you’re doing, eh? I f*cking doubt that. If you had half a brain you sure as hell wouldn’t have put shanked alloy wheels on your mate’s car using tapered steel wheel nuts. How many threads did you get those nuts on? One, maybe two turns at the most? I’m surprised the wheel didn’t fall off in your driveway. You bunch of dumb-arse rude f*cks!”
My rant was complete so I packed William away, feeling all of my cranky 43 years old as I left them there looking at each other with quizzical expressions as they pondered the wheel nut-to-wheel relationship. I happily blazed my middle finger as I went on my merry way.
My friend Adam inspired me to ponder this whole shit-fight recently after he copped it from the other side. He stopped to help a very grateful young bloke push his broken car through a busy intersection, and was appalled at how many people had the nerve to blast their horns and abuse them for holding up the traffic – none of them offering to push, of course. I copped a similar response a number of years ago when my VG hardtop shat a coil in peak hour and I had to push it off the road by myself.
Is this what society is coming to? It just leaves me dumbfounded, plain and simple, not to mention a little jaded.
So, my friends, these war stories lead me to ask the question: to help, or not to help? What do you think?
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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