Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mud and Misery in Texas

It started with a cow in a cage getting towed behind a truck.  I saw this truck from the RV window heading down the road that led to a dirt area beside the water where we're camping.  I thought--hey, that road must go somewhere if someone is towing a cow there.  So I told my mother we should get out and explore.

So we went over the hilly beat up dirt road to even more beat up flat rutted dark dirt road, and I should have turned back, but I saw tracks and thought the road was just bumpy...not saturated with water.  Also I saw an SUV that seemed to be parked on the side of the road and I thought, if he can make it so can I.

Except he wasn't parked.  He was stuck in the mud.  And within seconds so was I.

The guys I was stuck with, posted with permission.

A black man in his 40s and a younger black man in his 20s came out of the SUV frantically to warn me not to go further.  It was too late.  The tires were spinning and I wasn't moving.

The older man says that he'd called a friend with a truck.  He has a strap and the friend will pull us both out.  I'm glad I'm not alone in this stupid situation I put me and my mother in.

At this point we're just four fellow human beings stuck in a bad situation together.  And I know I'm waxing political, but it didn't occur to me at the time that the two black people were in a much WORSE situation than I was.  I figured this was a man, someone who fished or did other manly things, and he would come to a solution, as capable men often did (and women, don't get me wrong, but I'm more likely to call for an expensive tow rather than work out a solution on my own).

The younger man said he'd gone up to some fishers who had a 350 truck that could easily pull them out, but the man he spoke to just looked at him and didn't answer.

I'm blindsided.  "What?"

"He just looked at me like this."  He made a scowl.  "And didn't answer.  So after a while I just walked away, and he left."

Still...WHAT?  "Are people really racist here?"

Both men nod.

"Holy crap."

"It's pretty bad," the older man said.  "The people around here won't help us."

I said that if his friend couldn't help us I'd call the emergency tow service on my insurance and get the tow driver to pull him out, too.  Both men became incredulous.

"They ain't going help us.  They're going to pull you out and leave us here."

I said I wasn't going to leave them stranded and would pay for them to get out if I had to, but I also said, "Maybe the tow driver will be black?"

"Maybe then.  But not if he's an Uncle Tom.  He'll say he's got regulations to follow, his job is on the line or whatever, and just drive off."

How could anyone drive off?  What?  Is he supposed to abandon his car?  What the hell does someone who can't afford a tow do in this situation?  When no one will help, and they can't pay? 

But he had his friend.  The friend came in an F150 truck.  He tried to pull me.  He tried to pull him.  Neither car budged.  He drove me to the RV.  We got my spade.  We dug and dug and stuck the blocks I use to balance the RV tires in the mud to make a track.

No luck.

So I called my emergency service.  And I stay on the phone with the nice Geico rep as he struggled to find any service on a Sunday, in East Bumfuck Texas.

Meanwhile an older white man in an ATV is approaching.  I think that's what it's called.  It was like a dune buggy but with big tread tires for mud.  Four wheels.  Open cab.

After the experience with the people in the grey truck we both think the guy is just driving past us.  So we get out of the road to let him pass.  He stops in front of me and my mother however. 

He looks at us and says, "Y'all stuck?"

I said, "Yes, we both are."

He looks at the two men and I see the face the younger man made.  I'm not surprised at this point, since I now understood about the people around here.

He says he'll try to pull me and my mom out and asks if we have a strap.  I volunteer my friend's strap.  I tell my friend if this guy can at least pull me out, maybe I can use my 4 wheel drive to get him out.

He tries to pull me but can't. 

"I'll get my truck," he says. 

"Oh really!  That would be awesome!  I'll pay you back!" I say.

"Yeah you're going to have to pay me," he said.  "And I don't know if I can get you out, or if I do, I don't know if I can get him out."

I'm like, fine, great, awesome.  Let's try.

Meanwhile  I'm still on the phone because I don't really know if this guy is coming back.  They found a tow service and I told them to send it.  Just in case.

The man returns with a dually. 

"$50 for both of you," he says.  "If I can't get him out then just $25." 

"Great.  Awesome.  Done.  No problem."

He became sheepish, like ashamed he asked for money afterwards, because he went into a long spiel justifying why he was charging after I'd already agreed to pay.  He said he wasn't going to help but he got stuck out here for three days and didn't want anyone else to go through that.  He said no tow company would come out there, and even if they did he was saving me money.  Blah blah blah.  I didn't care.  I was happy to pay. 

He attached a chain to the back of my car and POP!  I'm out!!!  HALLELUJAH!  I cancel the tow truck.  He moved his truck for me to leave, but I don't.  I wait to make sure he helped the other guy too.  He was wedged in much deeper and at an angle, but sure enough, POP!  He's free!  I cheer and clap.

The two men come to thank the man with me.  As we're all talking jovially the older man asks him how he can drink the Limearita he was holding (tall can cheap alcoholic beverage).

"You're lucky I was drinking or I wouldn't have helped you."  He said this.  I swear to you.  I don't know if he meant he's normally an asshole, or if this was more racism.

Before we part the older man squeezes me in a huge hug and said something I'll probably never forget.  "The Lord sent you to make sure I didn't stay stuck in that mud."  He felt the man would not have come to help just the two of them. 

I chose to believe God did send me to help.  It helps me to get over my anger at myself for being so stupid to get stuck.

Anyway, we're free, and I am happy to pay the $50 to the 'good Samaritan'.  I've made much costlier mistakes in my life.

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