Today I went down to the courthouse. I am working on getting my children U.S. birth certificates. Enough about that. It's long and boring.
I got to the parking lot and discovered my battery was dead. (One of the smaller members of the family was responsible for that.)
Okay. I had jumper cables. I opened my hood and stuck them on, and then looked around for someone to give me a jump.
Given the fact that asking strangers for help is probably near the top of my list of Things I Hate to Do, I had to take some deep breaths. And this is what I got:
Person #1: "Sorry, I'm too busy." [I really just need 30 seconds....]
Person #2: "Uhhh....I just had some work done on my [very new, very large] car. Sorry." [I just need your battery to work....]
Person #3: [Actually, this was a whole group of burly security guards.] "You should go ask the parking attendant." [You mean, the woman sitting by herself in the booth? What the heck is she going to do for me?]
Person #4: "Sorry, I don't know where the battery is in this car." [You don't know where your battery is? Uhhh...I think it's under the hood?]
At this point, I am near tears. And ready to call Gil and make him drive the 30 minutes to give me a jump.
All I could think was, This would never happen in Tanzania.
Okay....the part about the battery dying? That would happen. In fact, it did, multiple times. But the part about no one willing to help me?
That would never happen.
No matter what part of Tanzania I might be in.
Every time I had car trouble; every time I had a flat tire (which was quite often), I would pull over and immediately be surrounded by people willing to help me. Immediately.
I remember one time, I was driving back from camp. I was driving at night (which I already hate); I had the kids in the car, and I had to cross the water on the ferry, which is about a five minute trip.
As I drove onto the ferry, I realized that I had a flat tire. I promptly totally and completely freaked out. What I am going to do? I can't change it fast enough. The ferry will get to the other side and no one will be able to get past me; they will all be mad at me, and I'm going to be stuck on this ferry forever. And probably die! [I am prone to over-reaction.]
But four guys instantly noticed the problem. They descended upon my car and asked me if they could change the tire. And seriously, it was like being in the Indy 500. They had the tire changed and the flat one back in the car in five minutes, lickety split. I just sat there, stunned, and then drove off the ferry when it reached the other side. Who needs Triple A?
Today, I did finally find someone who took pity on me and jumped my car. He was very kind. And I'm sure you would have helped me too, wouldn't you have?
California, you might have the better roads and the better drivers and the better law enforcement, but when it comes to kindness to strangers, Tanzania is the definite winner. I think I'd rather break down there.