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A Storm Of Kindness, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | May 23, 2022

We were going through one of the strongest rainstorms I’d ever seen in my area. My girlfriend and I were on the road when it hit. The rain became so dense that the cars in front of me turned on their fog lights because visibility was down to less than twenty metres.

In a small town, we had to turn around because a powerline had torn off and was laying on the road. When we reached the next traffic light, my engine started to sputter and stopped. I tried to start it a few times, but to no avail.

Because other cars were still driving along that road and would have to turn around, too, I figured we were blocking off traffic if we stayed there, so I decided to push the car around the corner, where other cars were parked on the side of a road at the beginning of a hill that was steadily getting steeper.

We stepped out of the car and into water that reached over my ankles — probably why the car stopped. After we pushed the car around the corner to the beginning of the hill, we were completely soaked, but we were in a safe spot, and due to the incline, there was no water standing on the road. We got back into the car and discussed what to do.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the window. A guy was standing in the pouring rain.

Guy: “Hey, are you having problems? Do you need some kind of help?”

Me: “Well, our car died on that road down there, probably because of all the water. We were just planning to wait until the rain lessens and try to start again. Perhaps something will have dried off by then. If it doesn’t work, we’re gonna call the ADAC.” *German AAA* “But it’s no use getting them out in this rain.”

Guy: “You see, I’ve got a little auto repair shop about fifty metres uphill. I can push you up there and we can see what we can do for you.”

Me: “That would be great! I can help you push, and my girlfriend can take the wheel.”

Guy: “No, you two stay in there. I’ve got a coworker here. We will manage that.”

And so, the two guys pushed us uphill on a steep incline, in the midst of pouring rain and quite a bit of wind, toward their workshop. Once inside, we got out of the car, and the guy got a few towels for himself, his coworker, and us to dry off.

Guy: “I know your car model. The place where the engine gets its air is very low. With that much water on the road, it likely sucked in some water. If you’re lucky, only your plugs got wet and can’t produce sparks anymore. In that case, we can dry it off and everything is fine. But if the water got inside the engine, we’re looking at an automatic engine failure.”

He started checking the oil, while his coworker disassembled some parts around the plugs and started drying everything with a small blow-dryer.

We were offered coffee in the meantime. After about half an hour, the guy came back to us.

Guy: “Good news. I’ve checked the oil and can’t find any trace of water in it, so it looks like you got lucky there. Your plugs are all dried off, and my coworker just finished reassembling everything. You two are good to go. I hope your day gets better.”

He tried to lead us to the car to get out. I got confused.

Me: “Wait. Didn’t you forget something?”

Guy: “Like what?”

Me: “Well, this is a repair shop, isn’t it? You do fix cars for money, don’t you? So how about me paying you?”

Guy: “Oh, paying. I hadn’t thought about that. Well, you see, we actually just sell new tires nowadays. We hardly fix cars anymore.”

Me: “Nevertheless, you just fixed mine. So how much do I owe you?”

Guy: “Well, um… how about you give me 10€?”

Me: “What? Only 10€? Wait, do you have some kind of coffee fund?” 

Many German workplaces do. Tips are not common outside of restaurants, sometimes even forbidden, so as a workaround, tips are often given to the “Kaffekasse” to pay for the workers’ coffee or other things they normally would chip in for.

Guy: “Well, yes, i’s right over there.”

I put another 20€ in it. I know, they deserved more — a lot more — but I was broke at that time and that was all I had on me that day. 

The car was running smoothly again and lasted another two years before it finally had an engine failure. I’m still wondering if it had gotten a little water inside the engine that day, after all.

A Storm Of Kindness

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