So yesterday, I was in a car. I have my license, but I don't drive, but I know lots of people who do.* My friend and I were just about to get on I5 when a man in a Mercedes going in the opposite direction started honking at us and pointing down at the tire. We pulled off to a side road and saw that the front left tire was almost completely flat, punctured by a piece of broken chain. My friend snowshoes, and she was out on Stevens Pass on Saturday and she probably picked it up there.

The Mercedes man stopped and checked to make sure we were okay, and we thanked him profusely and told him we had the tire-changing kit and we should be fine. We pulled into the parking lot of St. Patrick's Church, between Harvard and Broadway and Edgar St. Here is what the church and the parking lot look like from space:


It was Sunday, and so services were beginning pretty soon. I felt bad about taking up a spot in the parking lot, but there were other open spots, so we weren't taking up any space that was necessary for attendees. We started pulling out our jack** and our spare and we realized that the car didn't have the tire iron thingy to change the lugs on the tire, which I will from here on out refer to as "a wrench." My friend bought the car used, and the previous owners must have used it and not replaced it. Shit. So we called AAA.

exterior2004.jpgAs we waited for AAA to come and help, I noticed something: All the people in the parking lot who were going into St. Patrick's Church were actively avoiding eye contact with my friend and I, lest we ask the pious churchgoers for help. I began trying to make eye contact with people, and they would literally turn their heads away from us so we wouldn't have an opening to ask them if we could borrow their wrench to fix our tire. They were too busy getting into church to help people in need.***

We waited. And waited. It began to rain. We got into the car, but left the jack and spare out. Finally, an hour later, mass let out. People began the same eye-avoidance maneuver, only in reverse, back to their cars. I'm pretty sure someone who was an officiant of the mass—or a prominent member of the church based on the way he was shaking hands with people and such—walked quickly by us with his head down, too.

Finally, after almost all the cars had left, one sweet old lady looked over at us and said "Are you getting the help you need?" We said we had help on the way, but if she had a wrench, that would be useful. She opened up her trunk and let us look inside, but it was missing the wrench too.**** And, after we assured her that AAA would be there soon, she left, but not before again wishing that she could be of more help. And a very nice man from AAA came soon after and we were on our way.

But: Seriously, St. Patrick's Church? An entire massful of people passes by two people in obvious need of assistance twice in the span of an hour and only one sweet old lady bothers to stop and ask them if they need help? Way to be Christian.

In conclusion, if you're keeping score, here is a charticle box of goodness:

Man in Mercedes: Awesome
AAA employees: Awesome
AAA as an organization: Evil
St. Patrick's Churchgoers: Not helpful at all
Except for: The nice lady in the Mazda station wagon

* Because it seems necessary to include environmental policy on every post about cars: I'm not so rabidly against driving, although I think we've got to do something to make driving more environmentally sound, but I just, personally, find owning a car and driving to be much more stress than it's worth. It's why I live in a city. Whatever.

** Incidentally, because I am not so masculine and entirely not car oriented, I would like to proudly point out that I jacked the car up all by myself. Suck my testosterone!

*** And here is where somebody says "Oh, you're so passive-aggressive you didn't ask for help, fuck you," or "The lord helps those who help themselves," and I say, "I am shy and my friend is shy and we knew we had help on the way." And after the first two people walked by, it became an interesting social experiment more than anything.

**** I am starting to believe that some ninja is silently breaking into Seattle cars and stealing lug-nut wrenchy things from their trunks. Check to make sure you have yours before you begin any major trips.