Fifty firsts, #6

When I made the decision to do fifty new things during my fiftieth year of life, I was excited by the possibilities. My options seemed limitless. For example, I’d never climbed Mt. Everest, I’d never wrestled an alligator, I’d never run out of gas! Guess which of the three made it onto my list?


Picture the busiest intersection in your town, on a Friday, shortly after noon. In Fairmont, I was pretty sure that was where Country Club Road met Fairmont Avenue. I was returning to my office for an afternoon of paperwork and I knew I needed gas. I was planning to fill up at the gas station that was half a mile away. The car idled through two lights, barely moving a car length. Finally, when it was my turn to go, I accelerated to the middle of the intersection and my car sputtered, then died. The car behind me blew its horn. I was lucky that I wasn’t rear-ended. I put on my flashers, tried to restart the car, then pulled out my phone. I had visions of being rescued promptly by AAA. I paid my dues every year, I didn’t make a habit of calling them, and I was sure I’d be their number one priority. Ha! Apparently, lunch hour isn’t the time to seek assistance from the car saviors of the world.

Meanwhile, irate drivers were worming their way around me. A few people looked at me sympathetically but kept on driving. One lady gave me the finger and I had to fight off the desire to jump out of my car and have at her! Road rage is real! Did she seriously think that I’d planned to ruin her commute to the liquor store?

Here’s a theory I’ve worked out over the years. If I’d been in a minivan, someone would have offered help immediately. Because I was in a sweet, silver convertible, with the top down, people seemed to relish my break down. You could almost see the glee on their faces as they sped up to go around me. I decided to play it up and I started waving to the people as they drove by. I used a princess wave and a big smile. I was actually enjoying myself when I heard a four-wheel drive truck rumble up and stop.

In one quick glance, I saw that it was not your average pickup truck. No, this was a real man’s workhorse! It was splattered with mud, it and it’s dual mufflers, tinted windows, and lift kit with oversized tires. Four men jumped out and I could tell, just by watching them, that they lived for moments like this. They were wearing jeans and work boots, with plaid shirts, the sleeves rolled up to their elbows. They had on an assortment of hats, and there wasn’t a pot belly between them. Their walk couldn’t have been better choreographed by Hollywood. If we’d been on TV, “We Are The Champions” would have been playing in the background. This truck was equipped with a rack, a row of spotlights, a winch, jumper cables, wrenches, a jack, a tarp, a chain, and three extra tires. They had traffic cones and flares. They had a shovel, bottled water, and a bucket of cinders. They were ready for winter but they weren’t ready for an empty gas tank. They didn’t have a gas can and I could tell that they were disturbed by the fact that they’d let me down in that small way. It wasn’t a problem. Those four big guys pushed that one small car, and a damsel who wasn’t as distressed as she should be, out of the intersection and into the parking lot of a corner business. They were my heroes!

While I waited for my gas delivery (I could have walked faster!), I worked on my suntan, filed my nails, and enjoyed the beautiful fall day. It was a Friday afternoon spent more than a few steps beyond normal!

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