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To frozen heroes and free jump starts

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January 14, 2014 | 04:48 PM
Here’s to all the heroes of the evening of Jan. 6 and 7.

And in particular, here’s to one hero of the early morning hours of Jan. 7 who got my car started. For free.

According to the Weather Underground website, (my favorite for local temperatures) the air was down to a right chilly minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

Holy cow.

With the windchill, it felt like minus 31.

Holy Cow!

I realize people have to work those freezing, night-time hours. Utility crews drove around the city keeping an eye on the essential connections of modern civilization.

Police officers were on patrol. Firefighters were prepared in case they were needed. (Lake Geneva firefighters weren’t needed Monday night or early Tuesday, but they were called out to a working fire in the town of Geneva on Sunday, when it was at least as cold.)

I’m sure tow truck operators throughout Walworth County put in yeoman’s work on that cold, blustery, slippery day, pulling cars out of ditches and recharging batteries.

But most of us don’t think of those knights of the road, until we need one.

Managing Editor Rob Ireland and I worked until 11 p.m. Monday. We left the office at the same time, got into our cars the same time. His car started.

Mine, well, I’ll give it another crank. I’ll give it another crank. I’ll try it again. Hey, this ain’t working.

I desperately looked to my left to see Rob’s car make a right turn at Dodge Street. I went back into the office.

Just after 11 p.m., I started calling local tow truck operators at the end of one of their coldest, busiest days so far this winter. Enthusiasm was lacking.

One just had its answering machine on. At another I got a human voice. A very, very weary human voice.

“Sorry to bother you,” I said. “My car won’t start. Can you help?”

“I don’t think so,” came the muffled, very, very tired reply.

At Larry’s Towing, I got a human voice. It will take 90 minutes, he said.

What choice, did I have?

Mind you, the stress of my car not starting was psychological, not physical. I was in a heated office with access to coffee and a snack machine. I was not freezing or starving.

My car was parked on a city street, not stuck in a ditch.

I also live just two blocks from work. I could have walked home if absolutely necessary.

But I didn’t want to walk home in this cold. And I didn’t want to leave my car parked on Broad Street, because it would have been arrested for vagrancy and towed away and I would have had to bail it out of car jail for a ridiculous amount of money.

I hunkered down with a cup of reheated coffee and bag of cookies from the snack machine

The hero arrived in a Larry’s tow truck. Ninety minutes my eye. It took him only 45 minutes.

His coat was heavy enough to qualify as body armor, his woolen cap was pulled down over his eyes, and he wore industrial-strength work shoes.

As he groped around the frozen edges of the hood of my car, trying to find the interior hood latch, I noticed he wasn’t wearing gloves.

Ho-Lee Cow!

I made a comment about him being a better man than I was, even as my fingers were freezing inside my Thinsulate-protected gloves.

“Oh, that’s OK,” he replied. “I’ve been in and out all day.”

I thought the car suffered from gas line freeze. The Larry’s guy took my car key and gave it a try.

“Your battery’s kinda old,” he said. He got a charger from his tow truck, hooked it up with ungloved hands to my kinda-old battery and got the engine to start.

My cup runneth over.

I invited him into the office to warm up with a reheated cup of coffee (it’s all I had. I’d eaten all the cookies.) I offered to pay him double for his troubles.

He said no thanks to all of it. He wouldn’t take a fee for his trouble. I got free service.


Apparently, the Regional News had run some “negative news” about Larry’s in the past, the unnamed hero said. Maybe I could write something positive about Larry’s, he added.

I’m payin’ the bill right now, big guy.

And thanks again.

Chris Schultz is a reporter for the Lake Geneva Regional News.


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