On Friday, I was at one of the high overlooks in the Great Smoky Mountains taking photos. After getting some shots, I returned to my parked car and I inserted the key into the ignition. When I turned the key, the card did not start and I heard the dreaded sound that no motorist ever wants to hear:
Ok, that can mean a number of things: battery dead, alternator not charging, started gone, belt broken or any other one of a number of things. When I opened the hood of the car, many good Samaritans offered to help me get the car started.
They were very friendly and accommodating, and what I should have asked was: "Does anyone have any jumper cables to give us a boost?"
Instead, I did just about the stupidest thing that I have ever done. I asked them to push the car out of the parking spot, and that I would roll the car down the mountain until the torque converter in the automatic transmission was turning fast enough to turn the engine and start the car.
The helpful folks suggested that might be risky, but not wanting to put anyone out, I said that I was certain that the car would start. So they pushed me out of my parking place and I began to roll down the mountain.
Down the steep and winding road on the mountain!
However, the car did NOT start. And to make matters worse, my engine was NOT turning so I had no power steering and no power brakes. I knew right away that I was in trouble, because momentum was building and I had to push the breaks as hard as I could to retard the velocity of the vehicle!
After all attempts to start the engine failed, I had to look for a "landing strip." That would be a place long enough to stop the car using what available brakes I had plus the emergency brake.
I finally saw my opportunity, a long pull-off and so I made my move. It took all of the strength I had to stop the car with only 25 feet left to spare. But I did it and we were fine.
We just sat and waited until a park worker happened by to empty the trash can! I asked if he had jumper cables. He did, he helped us, and of course, refused any compensation. I shook his hand and thanked him for his kindness to strangers!
Turns out, it was just the battery after all. So off to Wal-Mart in Franklin North Carolina where I switched the battery in the parking lot and returned the old one for recycling. Ordeal over!
But I learned a valuable lesson. The first good Samaritans were ready and willing to help me get the car started. I should have accepted their kindness. Instead I decided to "go it alone" with nearly disastrous results.
The moral of the story: People are generally good, and it's okay to ask for help. That's part of living in a society!