Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A momentary crisis in Santa Cruz

Well, it was more than momentary--about 15 horrible minutes, actually. I had driven to friends' for dinner, and was returning to my old friend Lawrence Stern's condo, when I took a wrong turn. I've taken lots of wrong turns, esp. on this trip in strange neighborhoods, but this was a REALLY wrong turn, onto a railroad track. I stopped immediately, and my Honda Civic hybrid, which I love dearly, would subsequently move neither forward nor back, with a tire spinning on the track as if it were on ice.

I called 911 and stood out in the drizzle with many cars passing me by, though my stuck Honda was clearly visible. I was frightened that a train would come along at any moment and destroy my vehicle. After about ten minutes (the highway patrol had not yet appeared) a car did stop, with two men and a woman, all Hispanic with little English. They couldn't budge my car until another man stopped, and together they pushed me back onto the road.

When I told Lawrence about the incident he informed me that the trains don't run at night. Would have saved a lot of adrenaline had I known that before!

The next day I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper to thank them, as I had done so in a rather perfunctory way the night before. I do hope my Good Samaritans read it and know how grateful I am.

I'm reminded of a long-ago incident when a female friend and I had a flat tire at night in L.A. and three young Hispanic men came to our aid. One of them said, "My mom would kill me if I told her I'd passed by two ladies in distress." Is there something in the Hispanic culture that encourages this?

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