I turn the key in the ignition. Not a sound. Not a click. Nothing is working. My cell is out of batteries.
I sit in my car at a pump at a neighborhood gas station. Full tank and kinda stranded, for the moment.
It’s a familiar place. A few months ago I met a couple living in a small sinkhole in a parking lot adjacent to this gas station for a story about homeless veterans. He was an Afghanistan vet who couldn’t stop the bad dreams. She, battered by an ex, turned to meth and lost her children to state custody. Only recently was she able to can the meth addiction, because the Afghanistan vet, the love of her life, won’t stand for meth. He told me of the situation: “It don’t take one thing and it’s gone. Everything you got is gone, you know?”
Each said the other was the best thing that ever happened to them. Then they flew kites.
You can find love in unexpected places sometimes. Like, near a sinkhole in an expanse of concrete.
I feel only mild annoyance at current car situation because I’m tryin’ to run errands on a Saturday afternoon.
I walk into the convenience store to let the counter staff know I’m having car trouble and might be parked for a moment while I figure this one out. I think I need a jump, I say. I don’t have cables.
There’s a man who walks in right behind me and overhears. His hair is rusty blond and wild, Einstein-esque. Dried paint covers his jeans and boots. He’s a mid-50s cowboy Thor.
“I got this,” he tells the staff. “I’ll be over after I fill up,” he says to me.
“Thanks,” I say. “I might need a jump.”
I walk to my car. Pop the hood.
A green Bronco pulls up and he gets out.
Just don’t let him be a creep
He’s all business, stares at the battery and says, “You’ve just got a bad connection. Look at this.”
“Awesome. Is it an easy fix?”
He pulls tools out of his Bronco. A drill, a wrench.
Oh good he’s normal.
“Sweet Bronco,” I say. “Love Broncos. What year is it?”
“OK, completely rude question asking anyway – how much did you pay for it?”
“Got this one for $500 ’cause it had a lot of problems. Usually, they’re around $1,500. I only pay cash.”
“My husband and I are the same way,” I say.
“Yeah,” he says. “I got a wife and three kids. I started watching this show, Doomsday Preppers,” he says. “Man, these idiots on this show. They got guns. They got food. Bronco is loaded up.”
“With guns and food?”
OK, so maybe he’s not ‘normal,’ in the conventional sense, but, uniquely prepared for anything…
“Yeah,” he says, intent as ever on the bad connection in my battery.”Bronco’s got a reinforced front panel. Can charge through anything. Man, these guys on Doomsday Preppers were some of the biggest idiots I’ve ever seen. Then I turn around and become a big idiot like them…”
“Like, in preparation for Doomsday?” I say. “Apocalypse or what?”
“You never know. I’ve always kept guns…a lot of guns.”
“Tornado,” I offer. “You could get out of town fast for one of those.”
“Yeah. Tornado. Or anything else. You never know.”
“You really never know.”
“OK, give it a start.”
He shuts my hood.
I turn the key. My car starts.
“Wow, thanks,” I say.
But the stranger is already halfway to his Bronco armory food bank.
“Thanks!” I call out. I wave. “THANKS!”
He not only patched up the car, cowboy Thor reminded me of…preparedness…
It’s a topsy turvy world. Come to think of it, I need to fix my weather radio.