Monday, April 9, 2012

greasy tow truck man

nine years ago, we lived in a smallish city in north carolina and my husband was working as a youth pastor at a small church. it was the kind of church where it's filled with mostly old people and their families. families who attend because they've always attended and their mom and cousins and grandpa will be there every sunday. there wasn't much of a youth group because most of church's finances seemed to be sunk into their building and maybe the music program (those elderly folks loved their old hymns), rather than the future generations.

as a result, chris had a lot of time during the days when he wasn't doing anything youth related. he cleaned the building, created the bulletin, answered the phones, and went on sick calls with the rotten lead pastor.

on one of those days when he was out riding around with that snide man, i had to run to the bank to make a deposit, but the bank i needed to go to was about an hour away. no problem. i bundled up brooke, glanced at myself in the mirror and decided that i wouldn't be getting out of the car, so there was no need to brush my hair or change out of my pajamas. i slapped on a coat and away we went.

on the way back from our errand, about 45 minutes from home, my car got a flat tire. we were on the highway, but i was able to safely steer over to the shoulder where i proceeded to evaluate my options. it was march, so it was still pretty cold. i was wearing pajamas. i didn't know how to change a tire. i had a baby with me who was too heavy to carry very far in her car seat/carrier. i had no cell phone.

i decided that my best course of action would be to walk to the next exit which, thankfully, wasn't too far ahead. i picked up brooke, glad that i'd dressed her warmly, and started trekking down the highway, carrying a baby, a purse and a diaper bag. in my slippers.

i got to a gas station and found a pay phone inside the building. then i found that i had no coins. there was an ancient phone card in my wallet, so i was able to place a long distance call to my house. no answer. i called the church. no answer. i would NOT call the old pastor's cell phone even though i knew chris was probably with him.

that left me with very few options. i went into the bathroom and cried while sitting on the toilet with my jammie pants on and my baby on my lap. then i gave myself a stern talking to and dried my eyes. i went back out into the store and sat down at the table where you could eat a nasty hot dog or pre-packaged sandwich if you were so inclined. i tried to think of what i should do when a female employee walked over and asked if i needed some help. i explained my predicament and she told me that there was a customer who usually came in around that time every day who drove a tow truck. she was just sure he'd be happy to help me out once he got there.

she walked away and i raced to the phone to try to call my husband again. still no answer. i started praying. praying that the tow truck man would show up soon and also that he wouldn't be a rapist or baby murderer. my stomach was in knots the size of small puppies.

that man did show up before long. he came over and assured me that he'd be glad to help me out. he smiled crookedly from beneath his dirty hat and reached out to shake my hand with his grease stained fingers. i reluctantly shook back and then mentally ruled that hand to be off limits for touching any part of brooke's skin.

he directed us toward his truck. it was a large tow truck, way off the ground and up i climbed with brooke and all our stuff in my arms. i'd never ridden in a vehicle with my baby not strapped into a car seat, but there really was no decent option. so i zipped her into my coat with nothing but her little bald head showing and strapped the seat belt around us both.

he started up the rig and headed out of the parking lot. away from the highway. when i realized that he wasn't driving toward my car, but rather away from it, i gulped hard, trying to wrestle my stomach puppies into some semblance of calm so that i could speak without my voice trembling. i reminded him where my car was and he informed me that he was just going the back way to the previous exit so that he'd come up on my car from the right direction.

i was pretty sure that i was never going to see my husband again. we were driving down country roads in a place where i'd never been with a dirty man i didn't know and i was completely defenseless. what was i thinking getting into that truck? i did a mental inventory of anything i might have with me that could be used as a weapon. my keys were probably my best bet because diapers and breast milk weren't going to be helpful in any conceivable way if it came down to defensive maneuvers.

i held brooke tightly to my chest and kissed her warm, little head. i told her in my mind that i would be willing to die to protect her. and i prayed. the same prayer over and over. "please God, keep us safe. please, God, keep us safe."

the ride probably lasted less than ten minutes, but they may have been the longest ten minutes of my life. we pulled up behind my car and the greasy tow truck man told me to sit tight while he got out and changed my tire for me. when he was finished, he handed me back my keys and helped me down from the cab of his truck. he wouldn't even let me pay him for changing the tire, just tipped his hat and told me to drive safe. then, with a rumble and a chug, he was off down the highway, leaving myself and my snoozing bambino in his fumes on the side of the road.

i got a cell phone after that. and i stopped leaving the house in my pajamas.

17 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. i was glad he was one of the good variety!

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  2. Just when you think you have everything all figured out, life surprises you. Isn't it wonderful being wrong sometimes?

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    1. i'm really good at being wrong. i've had so much practice that i should get paid as a skilled professional.

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  3. Did you also learn how to change a tire?

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    1. i did a couple years later. i guess before that, i always thought i could bat my lashes and show some cleavage and get some man to help me out of any car problems that i found myself in. men, in the south at least, love to help a damsel in distress and i can play that role very well when necessary.
      in this case though, i had a baby in my cleavage and wasn't trying to get anyone worked up. older and wiser, i am.

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  4. This post seriously made me laugh Sherry, he sounds like a really great guy in my opinion.

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    1. he was a good guy. i just didn't recognize him behind his rough facade. shame on me.

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  5. I love this story, Sherilin. I had an experience that was a little similar - although I was dressed for work and had no baby. I had a flat on an interstate in the days before cell phones. Two workers stopped to help me. I was cold and scared and they put their coats on me and changed my tire and then drove off. There are angels out there!

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    Replies
    1. there are plenty of good people in the world, even if we suspect everyone's a bad guy.

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  6. I was terrified as I read this story. Like, I knew you didn't get murdered and I knew your child didn't get murdered. You know? But I still read this feeling totally sick with dread and terrified of what came next.

    Thank God it turned out all right. :)

    Oh, and always carry a cell phone AND hand sani. :)

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    1. i'm glad you were worried for our safety. that means i must have written the story well. =) and i did have hand sani in my diaper bag, but i didn't want to offend the man by using it immediately following touching his hand.
      my in-laws bought me a cell phone right after they heard this story.

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  7. It's always nice to be pleasantly surprised!

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  8. Whoa! What a story Sherilinnie! I don't even know what I'd do in that situation. I've only ever driven the car in my pyjamas once: early to take The Man to the train station. I had Jack in the car too I think. That was inner city, but oh man...just imagine if I'd been in your predicament. Damn it, we women need to learn a few things don't we!

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  9. Wow. I don't think I took a breath the whole time I was reading that. So glad you and the baby were safe. Sometimes when God sends His angel, they look like greasy truckers. Seriously, why can't they just have halos so we know for sure??? :)

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  10. http://www.Saeedbaba.com

    nice post and nice blog i really like your post/You are so funny

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don't let me be the only one doing the talking around here. spill your guts!