The stories of the greatest superheroes is often untold

The faces of these superheroes is often unknown too.

This is a post dedicated to those faceless and never-to-be-known superheroes who come in our lives only to restore our trust in humanity. Except for this post, I have no picture and no way of thanking them.

Late one evening on my trip to Penang in Malaysia, I drove my car into a nondescript lane for dinner and before I could even park properly, my car came to a complete stop. I just couldn’t start it.

Asia is a safe place so my personal safety was not my immediate concern. Car jacking is common but that too was not my concern. My biggest concern was not knowing anyone who can fix it. I called my car dealer in Singapore and he was on a holiday. The car that I was driving does not have a service station in Penang, the nearest one being in Kuala Lumpur which is 222 miles or 357 km away. The next day was a public holiday. I searched for cues online endlessly.

And just when you are beat, these unsung heroes came into my life.

A bunch of scooter mechanics were working nearby on an upturned scooter. Greasy and sweaty with a dim light hung from the ceiling, they were happy as ever oiling the chain and having a chat with their friends who had stopped by for a smoke.

They admired the car and cracked a joke about how a nice car can come to a halt. (Majority of cars in Malaysia are by a local company, Proton and quite primitive compared to the foreign cars in Singapore.)

Then they got to work.

One of them offered to keep a watchful eye on the car while the other offered to drive me on his scooter to a car mechanic nearby. That was closed and so we went to another, and another and another until we had visited them all. My driver was perpetually on the phone calling the people he knew, checking with the mechanics in advance, asking who can help and where can we go. We even went to an electrical shop to change the car key batteries. All options were exhausted.

The car still didn’t budge. It was getting late and time for the mechanics to go home. As a token of gratitude, I brought out some money to give it to them and they politely declined. “We did this to help you,” they said closing down the shutter. They could have easily taken the money and at times greed does get the better of you, but they didn’t.

With them gone, I was left with no one around. The lane was a back lane for parking and didn’t have many houses. A howl from a stray dog was all there was. As I sat inside my car, frustrated and furiously trying to start it, I must have somehow placed the key next to the steering wheel, and my car turned on. It was the remote option to start a car (which I learned later).


I left the place and returned to the hotel to park it in a safe place. I had no certainty that the car will start again the next day. But it did. I tried the remote option to start a car. I drove back 8 hours to Singapore in one go without turning the engine off at all fearing it will stop on the way.

I have hoped to return some day to thank the mechanics and at least buy them some sweets for their help. I have no memory of the lane I parked in and whether or not they will remember me. But I remember them.

I can’t help but feel fortunate to have met them and for my car to have broken down nearby a mechanic’s shop. I don’t remember their faces too well. It was dark. I don’t know what their names are. I never asked. In fact, I don’t know anything about them except they came in my life just at the time I needed help.

This post is dedicated to them. #notallheroeswearcapes

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