The couple seemed to belong together, a pair that had grown to look alike the way dog's begin to look like their owners. I watched as they drove up to my little car. (And when I say car-- I mean it in the broadest sense of the word. It's really closer to a skateboard with a motor is somewhat... sorta... affectionately called Rusty-ol'-Bastard... or Bucket-of-Bolts when I am really peeved with it. Since both ROB and BOB are derivatives of Robert they are fairly interchangeable, I guess. But I digress...)
Her accent was thick, only moderately mimicking english. "You need a jump?" was how it translated with the added signals that I was sitting in ROB with the hood open and a hopeful set of jumper cables at the ready.
"That would be great!" The kindness of strangers is always surprising but nevertheless welcome when it's 22 degrees, a smothering snow is falling and tromping around my car means wading in icy waters. "But I don't know how your going to get to where my battery is."
The man, with an equally dense accent, leaned out of the window. "Push it out."
Oh right! I'll just give it a little shove! I smirk inwardly. But before I can form any audible protest or objection, the elderly woman (is 60something elderly??) has jumped out of the incredibly American fully-loaded 4x4 Ford truck to position herself in front of my car. "You go..." she signals for me to get the car out of gear or steer or something. I swim over to the driver's side of the car, double check the break and gear so they will not prevent any attempts at moving it and position my feet so that I can pull while she pushes. We rock the car a moment or two and I sense the car relaxing and preparing for a nap. I was all prepared to tell her a regretful "thanks but no thanks" when another man exiting the grocery store sees our efforts and runs around to the front of the damn Bucket of Bolts to help. He digs in and gives us the impetus we needed to back the car out from between the two autos that sat silently grinning at our efforts.
"Thanks!!" I am again speechless with the kindness of the random good deed that occurs out in the big, bad, scary world. The man waves and jumps in his car and takes off, leaving me in the "helpful" hands of my new Russian friends.
At this moment, it suddenly occurs to me that the woman's husband is sitting cozily in the cab of the truck, watching our attempt to get the car out of the parking space, but I'm too intent on getting the car going to really give any serious thought-- sick? handicapped? The man's door opens and he lowers himself down to the ground, signalling something to his little wife. Hmmm... not handicapped...
Raise the hood. Get the jumper cables on the battery. "red negative, black positive" I say over my shoulder.
He attaches the cables to his battery and signals that I should jump in the car to start it. A miniature fireworks display goes on under the hood of ROB. A second later he holds up a melted cable line and the clamp falls into the snow. "Broken!" He looks at me expectantly like a child saying "you broke it!"
Right! Well, now we know what happens when you don't connect the cables positive to positive, negative to negative. Go in get new cables from King Soopers (Thank god King soopers believes in having a little bit of everything!). Rush back out to the waiting couple-- wait! waiting woman. No sign of her husband.
I hand her the cables thinking her husband will appear to connect the cables and I can start the car. "You connect" she says after unraveling them and quickly giving them back.
Okay, I'm a modern woman. I can take care of myself and if they don't mind my touching their truck, then I can make sure we don't burn through another set of cables. Connect red to red, black to black (Their battery is actually color coded- mine is not. Thus the confusion??? Maybe?? Whatever the problem, sparks are a bad thing.) Touch my clamp to the battery. No sparks-- shew. Engine starts. SHEW!!!
"Thanks so much for your help!" I give the pedal another nudge to ensure the car does't give up it's fingerhold on life again.
"It starts?" She peers under the hood surprised.
"Yup! We can take these off." now I can get out of here! I pull off the cables and wrench the hood shut. She waves over toward the dimly lit sidewalk where her husband stands... waiting... out of the snow and slush...?
He tromps over and peers in the car. "It works?"
"It works," I nod and give the engine a little gas to prove it's capable of a producing sound. "Thanks so much for your help!"
"Sure, sure" he nods and waves. I begin backing out of the spot we'd angled the car into and turn just in time to see the man lift his foot toward his wife. She bends down and brushes at his shoe and adjusts the King Soopers bag that apparently shields his foot from the damp. He stands erect and quiet, a hand gently on the woman's bent shoulder to balance himself, offended at the elements, proud of his sacrifice.