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Gentlemen do not always show up in suits

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These last few weeks, I have had the pleasure and the torture of engaging with gentlemen and jerks. While in the middle of the highway to Limuru one very early, cold, and drizzly morning, my car showed a light, then started blinking like a Christmas tree before suddenly coming to a halt. In the middle of the highway. 

I was fortunate to be on the extreme left lane. 

I put on the hazard, opened the hood, looked at the steaming in the engine area and suffered mini trauma as I wondered what to do. I roused my brother – it was his car – from slumberland to explain my predicament.

“Sounds like a coolant problem. Let it cool down completely then add coolant,” he said, I am sure rolling his eyes seeing as I have had his car for half of the year, but still call him when there is a slight mishap with it. 

Thirty minutes later, the steaming stopped, so I hailed a rider and sent him to get coolant. While I waited, a truck slowed and stopped some feet away. It was by now raining steadily and I was standing on the sidewalk, grateful that I had a big umbrella. The truck flashed lights and I moved towards the passenger door. He lowered the window and asked me what was wrong.

“Ah. It’s overheating,” The driver said. I nodded.

“The car stalled,” I added.

“Don’t worry about it. It stalled to spare the engine from damage.”

I looked at the car with admiration. She has her ways of self-preservation. Just then the rider came, and I directed him where to feed the coolant.

“Mind if I look?” the driver of the truck enquired, adjusting his jacket hood over his head as the rain came down. The rider and I were under the umbrella, peering down at the engine as the last drop of the coolant emptied into the ‘water container’.

“That is not where you should have put the coolant,” The driver said looking at the rider, bemused. The rider looked at me, “She opened there and told me to pour it in there.”

“Don’t worry since they work together, in fact, most times we mix the water and the coolant,” The truck driver said. He checked the oil, touched some stuff then told the rider. “You will need to get more coolant. And water.” His passenger joined us.

“Madam don’t worry about it. It will be all right.”

Long story short, these three gentlemen stayed with me, got drenched in the process but made sure that I was fine, and that the car was functioning. At some point, we had to buy the cap whose spring had snapped, hence the coolant issue. 

The driver adamantly refused when I offered to buy them breakfast. He said that he helped me like he would his sister and wished me well. His passenger said he was ok with the breakfast, after all, he was drenched, and it truly was cold, and a hot beverage would be great. I felt grateful that he accepted my offer, even though I never even got to know their names.

Jerk or gentleman has little to do with outward appearance as these gentlemen who stopped to help a stranger were not in suits or anything fancy.

You would, in fact, be quick to judge them by their appearance if they approached you in the middle of the street. But the jerks I got to meet a few days later after this incident were in suits, spoke polished English and poured their drinks from expensive silverware.

I happened to be invited to a private function involving some pretty important people. Without divulging much, I saw well-suited men, who were dropped by top-of-the-range cars behave in anything but an ungentlemanly manner. There were young women providing catering services, and one man, then later another, made some crude jokes about one of the women.

She politely smiled, clearly hurt but fearful of losing her job should she protest. The misogynistic remarks continued, such that I became uncomfortable, and could not wait to leave.

Being a gentleman is not about opening car doors.

It is about being considerate and kind, it is about being humane, even to a stranger, and not expecting anything in return. A gentleman is like the one that stopped to help me, no strings attached, when my car stalled that cold and rainy day.



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