Friday, January 9, 2009

Seven Strangers - A True Story

Here's a belated tale for Three Word Wednesday. The words are deception, panic and scheme.

When I heard snow scraping the underbelly of my truck it made me think of that line from The Matrix: That is the sound of inevitability.

In my panic I did what drivers from warm climates do. I hit the brakes. A couple of weeks later I saved a small tree in a parking lot by remembering what not to do, but tonight I was in trouble.

I knew the roads were bad but it had stopped snowing six hours earlier and I thought the highway must be clear by now. I figured I’d just drive down there and take a look, and if the highway was bad I’d turn around and come home.

A fine scheme indeed. The problem came in making it to the highway.

It didn’t even look like I was in the ditch, really. But that’s a deception left behind by snowplows – the road looks wide, but the edges are made of what’s been scraped off the road. Icing on a cake.

The tires spun against nothing and I thought, please let me get out, I thought. I’ll go home, I promise.

Couldn’t stand the thought of calling my parents, who hadn’t wanted me to go. So to delay I called my friend and told her I wasn’t going to make it because I was sitting in the ditch.

She expressed the concern she was supposed to but I could hear her trying not to laugh, like it was funny to her right now and she knew it would be funny to me later but she wasn’t sure if it was funny to me right now.

The first one to stop, a guy in a pickup, tried digging me out and pushing the truck, giving it more than a decent effort. He was perplexed as to why I was in the ditch in the first place – wasn’t the truck four-wheel drive? Then he laughed uproariously when he noticed I had California plates. I cursed the dealership that sold my dad this rear-wheel drive menace.

The guy offered me a ride. Samaritan or no, not getting into a strange man’s truck on a dark night. Especially at the crossroads of nowhere and nowhere else. And this was Wisconsin, after all. Home of both Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein.

It’s OK, I told him. I’ve got someone to call.

Hi Dad.

I towed you so.

He called a truck for me. Then I called my friend back to tell her I had to wait an hour for the tow truck. “At least you know what you’re doing with your evening now,” she chuckled. “In case you were wondering.”

Thought about finding new friends.

But a good night for restoring my faith in humanity. Six more motorists checked to see if I was okay. Sounds like part of a Christmas song – seven strangers stopping.

And a partridge in a snowy ditch.

Another guy in a pickup stopped.

And another. Kinda cute in a scruffy-David Cook sort of way. (Why yes, David. I do need help.)

A couple in a minivan.

Another guy in a pickup who also asked, didn’t my truck have four-wheel drive? Would’ve tried pulling me out but didn’t have his tow strap with him today.

Mom called. Dad was putting on his coat so he could drive out and wait with me. No, I said. Why have two of us in the ditch?

Another driver stopped. All of the pickups towered over mine, some of them chugging diesel. Started to feel like I was driving a toy truck. Make-believe truck. Perfect for California, at least the California that Wisconsinites envision.

And a guy driving a flatbed truck with his wife’s SUV on it. She’d wrangled with a guardrail today, he said.

My tow truck showed up, two hours after we called. A hundred and five bucks later I was free.

Dad got me snow tires for Christmas.

A Christmas miracle.


ThomG said...

Driving in the snow is never how we remember, is it? Maybe it's something in the water in Cali that does something to our Midwest DNA (he says, wistfully, still waiting for the $9K in repairs to his 4X4 done on a slick street that ended up with me taking out a city of Sioux Falls parking meter).


Purple Houses said...

Ouch, Thom.