I Hate You – I Love You!

“I hate you!” she said, kicking at the tires of her 1980 Ford Escort, “you rotten piece of junk!”. What was she to do now? The car had come to a sputtering, stuttering halt as she barely managed to steer it to the shoulder of Interstate 95. Now it just wouldn’t start and she was at least 55 minutes away from the job interview that meant everything. She knew nothing about cars, she had only just learnt how to drive one. The world underneath the hood was an alien one of engine, spark plugs, battery, radiator and popping the hood just to stare at them was not going to help. Heck, she wasn’t even sure she knew how to pop open the hood! She kept sliding her finger in to find the latch that would slide over so that the hood could be propped open. But her nervousness and soaring stress levels made the task well nigh impossible. But she had to find a way to at least do that! If people saw a broken down car at the side of the road perhaps they would stop to help!

She finally succeeded in propping up the hood and then helplessly sat down on the driver side, the door open and her long, silk – stocking clad legs and stiletto – heeled feet dangling outside, making random patterns on the sand and gravel. She had taken pains dressing for this interview. She had shampooed, conditioned and blow-dried her hair to a glorious sheen framing her face and enhancing her best features. She wore a blue career suit, its skirt barely skimming her knees and a white blouse with a neckline that complemented the three string pearl necklace that her Mom had given her as a parting gift when she left home. She had blown a pretty penny buying herself this ensemble and she looked refined and elegant and felt quite unstoppable when she left home this morning. Nothing was going to stop her from getting this job. Her entire future depended on it. Her resources had dwindled to the point where she wouldn’t even be able to buy a one-way ticket back to New Delhi, to the sheltered cocoon of a life that she had led there. Waiting patiently for an acceptable groom to come along who would marry her and take her away to be no more than a glorified domestic servant in his parents’ household. It was either that or taking several boring civil services or bank entrance exams preparing her for a lifetime of dull servitude to the Indian government. Either possibility filled her with dread. She had to make a go of it in the US. Nothing else would do.

She had been doing the rounds of several employment agencies for six weeks now. Every where she went they used to ask her if she drove a car or if she knew how to type. No one cared that she had a Masters degree in Economics from a rather prestigious school in India. The degree was the most irrelevant piece of paper she had ever earned in her life, in her current context. Discouraged, she decided to take driving lessons. She stumbled a bit and failed the test once for her inability to parallel park correctly but persistence paid and she got her license on the next try. Armed with license, and at the tail –end of the financial reserves that her Dad had been gracious enough to leave her, she had invested in this tiny, red, ten year old car which the used car salesman had convinced her was ideal for her. She fell for the pitch and bought the car without bothering to get anything inspected or checked. When it came to being wise or impulsive she had, after all, always favored impulse.

Once she learnt how to drive, the employment agency told her that they had an entry-level sales representative job for which they wanted her to try. She was excited beyond belief. The initial phone interview had gone really well and she had been asked in for an in-person interview. And now this!The thought of missing this interview sent cold beads of sweat running down her spine. She could now feel her silk blouse slick with sweat, sticking to her body. She felt like crying, her careful dressing, the elegant attire was going to come to naught as dishevelment and nervousness slowly set in while she waited for help. But crying wouldn’t have done. If there was any chance of making it to the interview she couldn’t risk getting there with mascara running down her face, the raccoon-eyed look wasn’t one that would impress a potential boss.

So she waited, looking distraught, feeling utterly hopeless and helpless without a clue as to what the future would bring. She held her head in her hands, feeling like she had been sitting there for an eternity, the increasingly hot sun beating down on her, this hot summer day. The cars just whizzed by, no one was inclined to stop. It was a cold, indifferent world, where people didn’t seem to care for each other. Why did she even want to live here so badly! She was desperately trying to hold her tears at bay, looking down at the ground, when she suddenly heard a very deep voice calling out to her, “Miss, miss, are you alright? What’s wrong? Can I help?” She looked up to glance at him. This tall man, dressed in blue jeans and a white T-shirt that stretched across a strong, lean and muscular frame. She looked up to find the kindest pair of deep blue eyes, full of genuine concern and a face framed with thick dark hair, staring back at her. She got up from the car and said, “Please, would you? My car seems to have died. I have no idea what happened. It just wouldn’t start! And I have a job interview in 30 minutes. I am at my wits end, I don’t know what to do!” He put a firm hand on her shoulder as if to say it would all be alright and walked around to the hood. He bent down peering over the jumbled machinery in there, twisted a few knobs, jiggled a few wires and then asked her to get inside and try starting the car. It still refused to start. He worked at it a little more and then gave up, telling her it needed to be towed away to the shop.

She felt her shoulders slump, last reserves of composure draining out of her as her eyes welled up and she tried thanking him in a choked up voice. He looked at her and asked, “Where do you have to go miss? Would you let me give you a ride?” She looked up at him again. She had been warned about taking rides from strangers. She wasn’t at all sure she could hop into his pick-up truck and be safe but his eyes looked too kind and she reasoned with herself thinking someone who stopped, to help a girl in distress, couldn’t possibly be bad. But then appearances are often deceptive. She quickly glanced at her watch as she deliberated and realized that even if he drove fast enough he could probably drop her off at her destination in time for the interview. So she decided to risk it, to take this chance, her much-coveted future was at stake. She accepted his offer. He led her to his pick-up truck and opened the passenger side door for her.

He drove well above the 70 mph speed limit. He asked her where she was headed, what sort of a job she was going for and what had brought her to the US. She found she could chat with him with ease. She loved his deep voice, his kindness, and found herself wishing he wasn’t just a random event in her life. He brought her to her destination in twenty minutes sharp. She still had ten minutes before her interview. He pulled into the parking lot and walked over to her side to let her out. She scrambled out of the truck, briefly teetering on her very high heels. He grabbed her arm to keep her from falling. She steadied herself, feeling very foolish. She looked up at him and they both burst out laughing at the situation. She wanted to say, “Thank you” but the words that left her mouth sounded awfully close to, ‘I love you!”

2 Comments

  1. oh i loved this story when you posted it on the board. there is something so pristine, innocent and endearing about it… untarnished love 🙂

  2. I too had a used carthat would die on freeway most mortifyingly. Still have panic attacks thinking about it :-)Nice story!


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