Shalamar, I do lean towards Toots reply to your posts on the subject ^^^
I've sympathy for you because I was in a similar sitch. Similar in that my battery died and I discovered that when I had to leave for work!
I approached my neighbor that was outside, but 1) I knew
him, we'd already introduced ourselves and 2) it was odd hours so he wasn't on his way to work and 3) I would have perfectly understood a 'no
Nah, I didn't think he was obligated to help me ... I was a bit perplexed by the "I'll be late for work" reason, considering that I ended up missing half a day myself because he wouldn't spend five minutes boosting my car. You're probably right about him not being able to risk being even five minutes late, though.
Like Virg said, you were late because your battery was dead, not
because he wouldn't boost your car. Not your fault that your battery was dead, nor was it his fault that he wasn't able to accommodate helping you.
As a side note, this makes for a good argument to get to know your (general 'your') neighbors in a friendly way if possible. He wasn't willing to help you (as some neighbor he didn't know) but he might have been willing to be a few minutes late to work for a friend. Six months ago a woman ran out of gas in front of my house. I was on my way to an appointment, but weighed the lateness against helping her and decided to help, mostly because she was my friend and not a stranger (though I like to think I would have helped a stranger but who knows?).