He Threatened to Call the Cops — on Me?!?
Note: This article has nothing to do with travel. Rather, this is a story about a disabled vehicle, filthy wheels, a threat to call the police, and a Brazilian beauty spa.
I had some time prior to my appointment to donate platelets at the local blood center near where I am based; so I figured that I would take a walk, as the weather was pleasant — but as I pulled into the nearly empty parking lot, I noticed a couple who were waving their hands as they stood by a silver sport utility vehicle, which was in an intersection of the parking lot.
He Threatened to Call the Cops — on Me?!?
Wondering if they were trying to get my attention, I rolled down my window. They indeed wanted me to come over; and the expressions on her face indicated that they had a problem. They could not have been older than 25 years of age at the most.
“Do you have a jack?” she asked.
“I do,” I replied — and I went to my vehicle to get it. “What is the problem?”
Their vehicle had obvious damage from an accident; but that was apparently from a past incident which is unrelated to the problem.
“The lug nuts fell off of the wheel”, he said. “I just replaced the brakes last night.”
Apparently, he did not tighten the lug nuts enough when the wheel was installed back onto its hub. They all fell off; but as this occurred in a parking lot, all of the lug nuts were recovered and placed on the running board on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
The photograph shown above give a closer view of the problem: the weight of the vehicle was basically resting on the wheel; and even though the wheel was technically dismounted off of the hub, removing it was impossible without first lifting it up.
I brought back my jack and ascertained the situation. I could not find a good spot to place the jack — many vehicles usually have a special reinforced area solely for the use of a jack to prop them up — so I placed the jack under the main part of the chassis and started cranking it up…
…but the jack reached its limit and went as high as it could go — but it was simply not enough; and she started to worry.
“I know of an auto body shop which works on luxury cars within walking distance. Maybe we can walk over there and they might have some answers?” I suggested.
“Sure,” he replied — and we started our walk, as she was in no immediate danger and could stay by the disabled vehicle.
Asking Someone Else For Help — Bad Idea
We had not even left the parking lot yet, when a late model white Ford F250 Super Duty FX4 Off Road pickup truck entered the parking lot.
“Let’s see if he has a jack,” he said, noting the size of this vehicle as compared to mine — and therefore, perhaps having a more appropriate jack which should work.
We tried to wave to him; but he simply passed us and turned the corner to park. “Maybe he was on his phone and didn’t notice us?” I wondered aloud to him…
…so after he parked his vehicle, we walked towards him and I said “excuse me —”
“I saw you,” he said, interrupting me as he headed towards a Brazilian beauty spa. Without breaking his stride, he continued, “I don’t know who you guys are.”
“…but we just wanted to ask —”
“Ask whatever you want. I’m gonna call the cops!” he exclaimed as he disappeared inside of the Brazilian beauty spa.
I stood there, stunned. “Call the cops? On us? For what? To ask for help?!?”
Our walk eventually continued towards the auto body shop. “I can’t believe that just happened,” I said in disbelief. I was actually livid at one point.
“I’m not surprised,” he replied with resignation — as though he was used to being treated that way.
The Auto Body Shop — Little to No Help
Ten minutes later, we arrived at the auto body shop, which services such vehicles as Bentleys, Porsches, and Maseratis. I explained his situation to the two men behind the desk.
“We cannot spare anyone right now,” one of them said. “We do not know if anything underneath the vehicle is damaged. If you like, we can recommend a towing service.”
“Is it free?” he asked.
“No,” he replied. “Do you have insurance?”
During this conversation with the two employees of the auto body shop, I thought that I misheard; but did I hear him say that the vehicle was a junker — and that it was their home?!?
Once we realized that there was nothing which they could do to help, we walked back towards the disabled vehicle. “I’m sorry; but did I hear you correctly? Did you say that your vehicle was your home?”
“Yes, sir,” he replied, seemingly ashamed.
I felt helpless at this point. What could I do?!?
Life Goes On — In the Meantime
“Do you have to be someplace?” I asked them once we returned to the disabled vehicle.
“I have to be in class by 8:30 over at the school. It’s my first day.”
This must be some kind of continuing education class for it to begin in the middle of March — but the time was 8:47; and questioning at that moment would have served no purpose. He was already late for his first day of class.
“Does she have to be anywhere by a certain time?” I asked.
“No”, he replied.
“Where is the school located?”
“Only a few minutes down that road,” he said, pointing in the general direction.
“What time is class over?”
I thought for a moment. “I’ll take you to your class. I will try to help her. Go concentrate on your class.”
As I drove him approximately seven minutes away to the school, he asked, “Could you please look out for her? She worries and doesn’t handle situations like this very well.”
“I will,” I replied.
I dropped him off at the school and returned to the disabled vehicle. At that point, I saw all of their worldly possessions in the back of the vehicle, which had no license plates on it. Fortunately, they both had mobile telephones so that they would not lose contact with each other even though they were currently apart.
Finally, Some Help — From the American Red Cross
“I have an idea,” I told her, reassuringly. “Let me go to the blood center over there and see if anyone is inside yet. Maybe they know something or can help. I’ll be back.”
“Okay,” she said.
I walked up to the door to the office of the American Red Cross. No one was inside yet. Just as I was about to walk away, a phlebotomist who knew me approached for work. After greeting each other, I explained the situation to her.
“Okay. I need to get a couple of things done, let my supervisor know, and find some telephone numbers that might help her. I’ll be right out.”
“Thank you so much,” I replied.
I went back to the vehicle and explained the updated situation to her. The phlebotomist arrived moments later with some telephone numbers. “If you are hungry, we have nice snacks which you can have — and we have a toilet if you need to use one.”
“Thank you,” she replied with a shaky pride in her voice. “But I’m good.”
More Good News — and More Much-Needed Assistance
Meanwhile, I took photographs of the vehicle — the ones which are included in this article — and I went for a walk so that I could think about what else could be done. I called someone who knows a mechanic and sent the photographs.
My mobile telephone rang about ten minutes later with good news: she would not have to call a towing service and pay potentially astronomical fees. Nothing appeared to be broken or damaged; so if someone has the right jack, the problem can be easily fixed. I immediately aborted my walk to return to the disabled vehicle.
When I arrived with the good news, I noticed that a police officer for the school district had parked nearby. I was going to alert him of the situation; but he was already aware of it and was searching for a jack in his official vehicle.
The police officer — who was as nice as he could be — could not figure out how to use the brand new and never used jack, as he could not get the crank bar loose. He started banging it into the asphalt, when I said, “Let me try.”
I contracted the jack until the bar to crank the jack was loose enough to use; and then I placed it under the disabled vehicle and started cranking the jack up under the main part of the frame of the chassis.
Success! The wheel was loose enough to remove — but the hub was too low to the ground to reinstall the wheel.
“I have a hydraulic jack at my house,” said the police officer. “That should work. Let me go get it.”
At this point, the time for my appointment to donate platelets had arrived. “Between the American Red Cross and the police officer, you are in good hands,” I said to her.
“Thank you so much,” she said, nearly in tears.
After I was inside for approximately 15 minutes, she walked in to use the toilet and grab a few snacks. By the look on her face, she clearly did not want to appear like she needed help and almost seemed ashamed — like she would have rather not have gone inside in the first place despite all of the people who were willing to assist.
When my appointment had concluded approximately two hours and 30 minutes later, the disabled vehicle was no longer there.
This experience was a reminder to me about something which I continue to espouse in articles I write here at The Gate: treat people with respect — and help people whenever possible.
Originally being from New York, I usually have a sixth sense which can rival any woman’s intuition — and nothing in my gut screamed at me that I was in any danger whatsoever…
…but for that man to threaten to “call the cops” when he would not even stop to hear what we had to ask — even if from the safety of within his own vehicle or inside of the Brazilian beauty spa — was uncalled for and inexcusable, in my opinion. We needed help; and he refused to take a moment to at least hear what we had to say. We were not located in a dangerous part of town; the parking lot had more people by that time; and we did not have anything in our hands — which were exposed — to indicate that we had any weapons immediately at our disposal.
I am not sure what was going through his mind at the time, as he did not appear to be frightened or scared — but I only hope he does not find himself in a similar situation…
Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.