Yesterday as I traveled home from a writing conference on the beautiful Mattole River, I blew a tire, drove 25 miles on a run-flat tire, and lurched into Redway, California, around 4.30, where the ambient temperature was 95 degrees on the asphalt. After running back and forth over the main road a few times between the tire stores (no MINI sized run-flats in town), I opted for a relay tow--first leg Redway to Ukiah, second leg Ukiah to Oakland.
Triple A allowed me to upgrade from a Plus to a Premium member on the spot, thanks to the kindness of s perfect stranger--the AAA dispatcher who said, "This lady's been an AAA member since 1979!" So instead of paying 750 to be towed to Oakland, I forked over 41.35.
There Corey and I were, headed down to Ukiah, Corey telling me about the most interesting calls he's had. One was the girl who locked her keys in her convertible VW--a convertible that had the top down. He reached over and got the keys, handing them to her. He told me other fine tales, but then had to stop suddenly, the 101 backed up.
Nothing moved. No one. Nothing. Even the few cars on the other side of the road stopped. The sun beat on the tow truck. People started to mill about. A rumor began to circulate about the Russian in the Penske truck and a dead cow. The headbanger turned off his music and told me about this stretch of road. A woman wearing a Powell's Books cap told me about her vacation. Several women soon claimed a grove of trees as our own, for reasons you can imagine. The sun went down. the mosquitoes came out. Corey began to tell me other stories, more interesting, about crashes of grocery trucks and 12,000 dollars of soup. Finally, the telecommunications line was pushed back into place, and three hours later, we all began to move again, passing Willits and then we headed into Ukiah.
I learned more about Corey and his life, and we talked about divorce and children. Then he passed me off to Cecil, who had a huge, enormous tow truck, and we slowly made our way down to Oakland, after stopping by his shop and a mini mart.
Times are hard. People need work, no matter what it is. Life doesn't always work out the way we want it to. Surely when I left the Camp Mattole a three in the afternoon, I didn't expect to arrive home at 1 am to my street in a Class A tow truck. Certainly I didn't expect to learn about the lives of two very different men.
Somehow, I managed to not be too cranky, but to be thankful that when my car tire blew, I didn't crash. I thought to be thankful for the receptionist at the tire store in Redway, for the dispatch guy at AAA. For Corey and Cecil and their kindness and willingness to do what was needed. For the people on the road who waited and talked. For the headbanger who turned off his music. The fate of the cow is unknown, if there really was one, but the rest of us--even the woman who hit the telephone pole--are all right, right now. Just fine.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org