We just drove home from Bakersfield. On the way through the Tejon Pass, there was a woman pressing three small children against her legs in the wind, standing in the dirt on the side of the road. The hood of her car was up.
My husband and I agreed we should stop, so he pulled off at the next exit. It was a rest stop with no onramp the other direction.
As long as we were there, my husband went pee.
We went to the next offramp, got off and headed back the other direction, but missed our offramp.
By the time we got back to the damsel in distress, a tow truck was there.
One Thanksgiving my college roommate and I decided to show up in Southern California for Thanksgiving and surprise our families. We took my car from Boulder and dropped her first in San Clemente. It was Wednesday.
Never drive on Southern California freeways on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I could have walked faster.
Round about Yorba Linda my car began to smoke. Here’s my engine savvy. I pulled to the median and distanced myself from it in case it was set to explode.
A car pulled up next to me, a sedan, with about nine people in it. They bade me dive in across the six laps in the back seat, scooted me across the five lanes and dropped me at the call box.
The call box phone didn’t work.
From there a nice lady drove me down the offramp. She told me she had never picked up a hitchhiker in her life, but that I cut the most unthreatening figure she’d ever seen.
She left me at the Carl’s Jr., where I borrowed their phone and called Mike.
Michael jumped in his Sprint, with the ‘Don’t laugh, mister. You’re daughter might be in here.’ bumper sticker, and sat in the holiday traffic for hours to get me.
During the years I was logging frequent passenger miles in that car, my father never commented on that bumper sticker.
Mike put water in my overheated radiator and handed me the keys to the Sprint. I followed him at a creep to my parents’ house, where they were cozily watching a movie with a fire going.
I had to walk in and say, “Surprise! Dad, can you fix my car?”
He had grace not to say, “You’re home. What a treat,” as he pushed himself off the couch.
I hope I’ve redeemed Michael’s reputation. The truth is, if he called me at 2 a.m. again, I’d go.