The neighbourhood was barely waking up that Sunday morning and the normally busy lively road was fairly deserted except for morning walkers. The nippy quiet of the early hour was broken by the chatter of a group of young boys (their very presence at this early hour was strange in itself) who seemed to have gathered for some discussions. We were returning home from our walk and as we crossed the main road we heard a sudden hiss from a car that passed behind us.
It tried to turn into a parking slot but for some reason could not. The hissing continued as the driver reversed and entered our lane instead. We noticed that the car tyre was the source of the hissing as it deflated rapidly. Within moments the tyre was totally deflated and the car slumped perilously to one side.
The boys and we signalled to the driver who stopped and came out to investigate. It seemed like a case of a flat tyre and I expected that the young man apparently barely out of his teens would be able to handle the matter. A girl (similar age group) emerged out of the car, peering anxiously. The driver pushed the car to the edge of the road while the girl helplessly looked on. He got the jack, spare tyre but in a few minutes, it was quite apparent that he was clueless about how to proceed; ditto for the girl (I did not hazard a guess about their relationship).
They struggled for a several minutes and then a couple of the boys, who till now were simply watching the proceedings, approached them and offered to help. Not that they seemed to know what was to be done. The driver gratefully stepped back. The boys tried to fit the jack on the chassis but did not get a grip. By now the entire gang had chipped in and were trying to fit the jack and the driver and his companion were reduced to mere bystanders.
Another young man was returning home from his night shift and stopped to help. He correctly fitted the jack, showed them how to raise the vehicle. The motley group of self-styled car tyre change experts now seemed to know what to do so he left. Several minutes later, the tyre was replaced and everyone dispersed.
All seemed to have ended well in this case. The event got me thinking. The young man may have borrowed his father’s car or it may have been his own but clearly he did not know how to handle such minor emergencies. The girl too seemed helpless. The easiest thing would be to call one’s parents and just wait for them to act. Else call a car mechanic. Brand me as “old school” if you will, but to me, anyone who drives a vehicle must be able to handle minor emergencies. e.g. flat tyre or drained battery (I was once left with a dud battery fairly late at night because I left the lights on …) In this case neither the girl nor the boy could do so despite using the vehicle. Relying on strangers to help (like the boys in this case) may not always end happily and in other lonelier locations or late at night one may find oneself relieved of valuables or worse… physically harmed.
We ensure our daughters get the best possible education and try to make them financially independent. We make sure they learn self-defence techniques; some of us monitor their activities in school, college, their friends- both online and offline. All these are necessary but I think we need to also need to teach them steps to be taken to tackle minor emergencies related to vehicles, gadgets etc.
Locate different electrical fuses in our home, keep handy the contact details of an electrician/plumber etc; learn how to change car tyres; what is to be done or who to contact in case a car battery drains out; check validity of the PUC certification of your two or four wheelers; learn to replace cycle chains (many ladies are taking up cycling as exercise or for commuting and the chain often slips off). It’s a good idea if parents allow their kids to drive them around once in a while so that they can subtly check their road safety habits and driving skills (a ‘route check’ as it were). Wrong driving habits may inadvertently grow on young new vehicle drivers which must be corrected.
Chivalry is great and its wonderful if one’s husband/ boyfriend/ brother solves our problem but what if ‘he’ cannot be contacted; is not available or just doesn’t know how to solve the issue. Seeking help doesn’t mean we should remain ignorant about how problems should be solved.
What do you think?
Pic credit: MartinaK15 (Used under a Creative Commons license)