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Point of View: Humans Are Far to Be Preferred

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 10:38

There we were east of Two Trees, off on the grass at the edge of Scuttlehole, the car apparently — I say “apparently,” for there’s always hope — having given up the ghost.

And not all that long afterward the tow truck, whose owner we’d contacted directly after having been brought almost to tears by AAA’s convoluted automated responses, arrived — its driver wondering how we were going to get home. With him, we said hopefully. We were, after all, masked and vaccinated. But the vaccine wears off in six months, he said. We checked our cards — we had been vaccinated five months ago. And, moreover, we’d both tested negative just four days before. We thought that that would clinch it, but who knows these days, people wanting a ride — even an elderly couple with a “Build Back Better” bumper sticker, especially those with a “Build Back Better” bumper sticker, he might have thought — might say anything.

We squinched as far as we could toward the passenger door, I, thankful, but silent, Mary thankful and cordial, as is her wont.

His talents were on full display when we arrived a half-hour later at East Hampton Auto Radiator, whose lot often looks as if it might confound all but the slickest of drivers. With traffic whizzing by on Springs-Fireplace, he pulled his long rig up and around and back and with such precision prior to squeezing the Prius in behind another car on a tiny curbed dirt patch that I was tempted to applaud.

Instead, we doubled his tip, thanked him again, and waved as he, at the helm of the rig, headed out.

Even a wary human being with whom you don’t entirely connect is to be far preferred to automated voices, which render extremely disheartening situations all the more so.

An unfailingly generous neighbor, who often remonstrates with the automated voice in his wife’s new car that tells him what to do, drove us the rest of the way. I told him in parting that it was not the best day to vow that I would no longer drink on weeknights.

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