it was hotter than a sweat lodge with the heat on the day my mom accompanied me on the country paper route i had. Alabama is known for it's sweltering humidity... no matter how cold you kept your home, a few minutes outside left you soaking wet with sweat.
the paper route i had was a 30 mile round trip nuisance in the country, where homes were in clusters half a mile apart. before departure to deliver the newspapers, i had to sit in the heat and stuff each one in a plastic bag so that as you flung them onto the driveway as you drove by, it didn't tear up the paper. rather, it "slid" into place via the plastic bag much like a runner slides into home in a baseball game.
my mom decided to come with me that day to keep me company. she sat next to me in our pick-up truck with the plastic bag of papers piled all around us. she'd fling out her side and I'd drive and fling out mine. we started at 4pm and usually finished before it got dark. but tonight it would be different. tonight would turn into a matter of life or death...
we flung the last paper and were headed home. suddenly, i had a blowout so i pulled over to the side of one of many isolated back country roads we had to take to get back to town. i was going to unscrew the lug nuts to change the tire and realized i had no crow bar.
we sat there for at least 45 minutes, contemplating the situation. [this was in 1979 prior to cell phones]. i told mom i was going to flag down the next car that came down this road. but there hadn't even been ONE the whole time we'd sat there. we were in the middle of nowhere, thick trees lining both sides of the road, and not a house to be seen that i could walk to for help.
the bugs were biting our sweaty skin. the crickets and June bugs sang loudly in the background. it was F.U.C.K.I.N.G. H.O.T. we were out of water to drink, i was getting scared, and i had to pee.
all of a sudden a truck came around the curve. it reached us before i could navigate myself out of mine to flag it down. he pulled over behind us and sat there. he just sat there as if he were thinking of whether to help us or not. then he got out of the truck.
it was a black man prolly in his 50's and dressed in coveralls. he approached us, i got out, and he asked me what happened. i told him and he walked around to look at the tire, scratching his head. then he said he needed to check under the hood in case anything was wrong there.
i felt a knot growing in my gut. i began to feel fear and my heart raced. you didn't need to look under the hood to fix a flat.. i didn't know what to do so i explained it all to my mom in French. i saw the color leave her face.
he tinkered under the hood and kept going back and forth between the two trucks. yet he did nothing. he didn't attempt to change the tire. he kept muttering to himself as he walked.
it was dusk now, and i could barely see around us let alone what he was doing. i felt like i was going to faint. he'd tinker under the hood and then ask me to try the ignition. the truck was dead. i had power before he arrived but now my truck was dead. flat tires don't affect the engine.
if you have never been in the country in the deep south without street lights or a moon's glow to illuminate your surroundings, you can never believe how dark it can be.
he must have tinkered and tried "this and that" for over an hour. i kept saying "it's the tire" to which he would reply "no, there's something wrong under here". my mom was speaking in French to me saying she had begun praying for our safety.
something just wasn't right with this man... she wanted me to get back in the truck, roll up the windows and lock the door but i couldn't with the heat, we would surely suffocate. i began to shake as i stood on the road, i was so scared.
the man said he was going to get something out of his truck. he walked over to it and put his headlights on which blinded me, and i could no longer see where he was. i heard his door close, then i saw him walk towards us.
as he came out of the light enough for me to see, i noticed he had a shotgun in his hands. just as suddenly as i saw the gun, lights came around the curve of the road and i KNEW whoever this was, i was going to flag them down for help.
i cant even explain my fear or how quickly it all happened. i got in the middle of the road and stood so the car couldn't pass without hitting me. when it stopped and my eyes could adjust to see, i realized it was a police car!
i ran to the officer and blurted out that i needed help. he quickly began to speak to the man and asked to see his gun permit and license, which he had. [nearly everyone has guns in the deep south so it didn't seem odd]. then he asked him whether or not he could change the tire. he said of course and had it changed within 5 minutes. then he got in his truck and drove off speedily.
the police officer said he never comes home this way, as it's longer for him after his shift. but tonight, something MADE him come this way. he couldn't explain it.
i then told him my truck was dead, and how the man said something was wrong under the hood. we looked quizzically at each other, and with his flashlight looked under the hood. we saw the cables had been disconnected from the battery. the officer and i reconnected the cables and my truck started.
it was as if we both realized the man's intentions at the same time. we had been on the side of the road with him "attempting" to help us for over an hour. what was he going to do with the gun? the policeman called in something on his radio, then said he was going to follow us home to assure our safety.
i was in shock. i knew i came close to dying that night because i truly think he was going to rape and kill us. what other reason did he bring out his gun, and why did he disconnect the battery so i had no power? and how come he could change the flat in 5 minutes, suddenly?
my mom and i drove home in silence. my husband was awaiting us.
i knew right then and there that god sent that officer to save our lives that night. and being the shut down person i was back then, i didn't process my feelings until many years later when the reality of the danger, hit me.
this is ONE time i could have died and didn't. there are many more.
thinking about this, and the other times over my lifespan when i COULD HAVE DIED, is kicking me out of the fucking depression i have been in the last few months. i am still here for a reason.
i need to figure out what it is and start living again.
i posted this. then my boss called me to inform me she can no longer keep my position open at work. i have surpassed my 90 days of allowable recovery time. i am eligible to maintain my salary and seniority within the same company until November. BUT i cannot apply for another job whilst i am on workman's comp. when i am released, i will have to find a job at that time. but ummm, there will be NO income until i do. so, like erm, WTF am i supposed to live on until i do find another job?
one step forward, two steps back...
everything happens for a reason...
when one door closes, another will open...
trust in the lord and lean not on your own understanding...
one flew over the cookoo's nest...