Tonight, my 1999 Dodge Caravan found its way into a shop after only 18000 miles, after a couple long hours of stress and indeterminance. Funny thing is, this experience has restored some of my faith in humanity, and maybe something even greater.

I had driven down to my girlfriend's place, and proceeded to make a left turn onto her street, when all of the sudden my car started jerking along, engine reving into the red.I was able to glide onto the street and almost made it to her front door when it stopped. I triend restarting the engine, played with the gears to try to make them catch, all to no avail. Then the telltale red oil leaked out from under the car... the transmission had been blown.

I tried to shift it into neutral and started to push, trying to move the car to the curb. Alone, I had tried to start it rolling, and glanced over to see the usual cast of assholes drive by in their functional cars, looking more annoyed at the prospect of possibly having to wait a minute or two for me to get a minivan out of traffic on my own. "Typical," I thought to myself - I'd come to expect this from people in Los Angeles. Then out of nowhere, someone completely unknown to me asked if I need help.

After the initial shock, I realized one of the drivers had stopped to try to help me, while the other drivers looked incredulously. Someone else from the neighborhood soon came out to help, and the minivan was soon at the side of the road. I didn't get the names of these men, but thanked them profusely.

I went up to my girlfriend's apartment and called roadside assistance for DaimerChrysler, talked to yet another guy who shared the duties of customer service with me, and got my car towed to the dealership. The tow guy was helpful, and talking to him in the truck cab on the way out did a lot to help me put this night into perspective.

It's inevitable that cars breakdown, just as any mechanical thing will. Something must have intervened for me tonight; I could just have easily had this problem on the 405 freeway on the way out, rather than a block away from my girlfriend's house. I was able to make that left turn, instead of getting stuck and possibly hit. I could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere.

More importantly though, tonight showed me that there are still some decent people in the world, who can do the right thing when they are faced with it, some people who aren't so caught up in themselves that they can lend a hand to people when they need it.

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