Old Friends, New Friends

A  friend in need is a friend indeed.

Especially when you’re having car trouble.

Tanya the Toyota is to me like Silver is to the Lone Ranger. My car — that is Tanya — is not only my reliable mode of transportation, but also a longtime companion. We’ve been through a lot together. And while I’m exhorted by many well-meaning friends to buy a car that is younger than bat mitzvah (Tanya’s actually older!), I hesitate to part with her.

Why? Just like me, she may have a few years on her, but she’s still in good shape.

She has, though, felt a little long in the tooth recently.

Recently, before a family getaway during the school break, I had some trouble with Tanya. It wasn’t really the car’s fault, but it did remind me of her age. I parked in the mall parking lot to go into the stores in search of some ski pants for one of the kids. After a short excursion inside the mall — and no real luck with the shopping — I returned to the car. It was already dark, but I noticed that the headlights were left on. By me. Uh oh. I couldn’t get the car started. The battery was kaput.

So who did I call? Not AAA. Not the insurance guys who offer road service. Not even my husband (not yet).

I called a group of road rescuers known as Chaverim, literally “friends” in Hebrew. This volunteer brigade will come out and offer an assist on the road, a boost, a lockout opening, and more — even things that are not car-related. Chaverim Teaneck (there are Chaverim organizations in other areas, as well), is a small but mighty group started several years ago by a group of post-high school yeshiva students. I knew about the organization because I had gotten help from Chaverim in Brooklyn, and hoped that there was one in Teaneck. Lucky for me, there is.

If you cross the alacrity and altruism of a superhero and the looks of a Maccabeat, that’s Chaverim. At least that was my impression of the kippah-clad young man who showed up to give me a boost. And it wasn’t only my car that got the boost. I felt so appreciative of his parking lot rescue. When I tried to thank him with a tip, he absolutely refused. Unbelievable.

Not even a week later, there I was again in Teaneck with Tanya. But this time when I exited the car, I left the keys in the ignition. Oy. Who did I call? Yes, Chaverim.

Hoping that another member would show up instead of the same young man who helped me the last time — I was embarrassed — and at the same time hoping that he would show up because he was so helpful, I was just happy someone was coming. It turned out to be the same young man.

But this time, it wasn’t so easy to get Tanya back on the road. The lock of my car is not a newfangled one, but an older button type lock, and it was giving my Chaver a little bit of trouble.

Who did he call? A cohort. Lickety split, a second Chaver showed up to try and get the car door open. He even unlaced his sneaker and tried to grab the stubborn button open.

“Look, it’s MacGyver,” said Chaver Number One, referring to the television genius agent who rights wrongs with his vast scientific knowledge and creativity. MacGyver never carries a gun and always thwarts the enemy, sometimes with little more than a paper clip and the duct tape in his pocket

But this MacGyver had no luck.

Who did they call? A third Chaver, who got to the scene in no time. And with the right equipment to open Tanya’s old-fashioned button.

Joked Chaver Number One, “One more guy and we’ll have to get out the sushi.”

Three Chaverim. Number Three had the right tool to open it. He gave it to Number Two, who got the door open. And Number One, my original Chaver, was there orchestrating the whole rescue and helping every step of the way.

Tanya was back in business and I was able to get back home.

What can I say?

I’m just so lucky to have friends like these.



About the Author
Heidi Mae Bratt is an award-winning journalist and the editor of About Our Children, the parenting magazine for the Jewish Standard.