The two young men didn’t look like me. I had seen them sitting in their car at the same place yesterday. I was suspicious.

Today they asked if I had jumper cables and if I could help them get their car started. I said I could, but I needed to walk my dogs first.

It would be a half hour, I said.
We can wait, they said.

To be honest, I was uncomfortable. While I walked, I thought about my discomfort. I wondered if they were legit or were going to accost me. I thought that maybe I could just give them the jumper cables and then leave with some lame excuse about my hybrid car not having any power.

I prayed.

When I returned, I backed up to their car, took out the cables, and we connected the batteries.

We talked. I petted their dogs.
I kept my foot on the accelerator. We talked some more. They tried the ignition. The car wouldn’t start. We kept trying. No luck.

By then we knew each other’s names. I learned that this was the second day in a row they had been stranded by their car when they tried to go to work.

Finally, we realized that indeed my car did not have the juice to power their car. I told them they could just keep the jumper cables and get someone with a bigger vehicle to give them a jump.

I drove away. A little further down the road, I realized that I could have offered to take them to work. So I turned around.

When I reached the street where they were parked, I saw that a truck had pulled in front of their car. I could see my cables just visible beneath the hoods running between the vehicles.

I smiled and drove home.

I hadn’t been able to jumpstart their car. But that was okay.

We had made a connection.

Midweek Essays are published every Wednesday. Please see the publication schedule page for more info.

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