Friday, September 14, 2007

Pay It Forward

I hesitate to tell this story because it is so terrifying it makes me shiver.

Maureen and I were involved in a rescue incident yesterday.

It was a gorgeous day, bright and clear, so we decided take the bike out for little spin along the beach. When we arrived at Jones Beach (Field 6) it was about time for our afternoon coffee. We parked the bike and went to the snack shop.

Sitting out under the bright blue sky, with the surf pounding and the wind blowing through my scalp we sort of lost ourselves in the beauty of the moment. I should have remained vigilant.

Vito Corleone reminded his son that "Women and children can afford to be careless" but he never told me.

When it was time to leave we turned toward the parking lot to discover...

I had left the lights on!

I ran as quickly as these old legs would carry me, but it was too late. The strain of keeping those lights lit was just too great, and the Little Battery That Could... suddenly... couldn't.

Being trained in crisis management I immediately sized up the situation and went directly to the Umbrella Lady. I asked her if the Park Police could provide a jump start.

Her answer chilled me to the bone.

"It's not a matter of could they," she said. "The big question is will they."

Oh, no.

Stranded here less than 100 yards from the water's edge with man-eating sharks lurking invisibly just under the surface, I was paralyzed with fear.

"It will be dark in less than four hours!" I cried.

That's when a strong and confident voice pierced through the darkness of my agony.

"Aw, quit your whining. I have jumper cables in my Cadillac."

I looked up at my rescuer, flushed with relief.

Alvin stood there, tanned and stunningly fit for his 85 years. The 1945 Navy Air Corps WWII cap perched atop his head glistened in the afternoon sunlight.

"Let's go kid" he commanded, as if he were still leading men into battle.

And go we did.

Alvin grabbed his cables from out of the trunk, hooked us up, and with one hit on the starter button... WE WERE SAVED!

When I tried to offer Alvin a gratuity, he just waved me off. "If you find someone who needs help, stop and lend a hand. AND QUIT THAT WHINING!"

With the Honda engine purring I looked at my dear wife.

"Does this mean you don't want to bike to Alaska with me next Summer? I asked.

"I don't want to bike home with you now" came her terse answer.

"Call me a cab" she ordered. I sheepishly obeyed.

Then... oh no... my cell phone battery is dead.

But that's another story.


Anonymous said...

Must have been a really old Honda that didn't shut the lights when the ignition was turned off. My not so new VTX automatically turns off the lights when the engine shuts down.

Anonymous said...

Completely charming.

Quit your whining!

That’s a 10-4!