In honor of my friend Kelly I present to you,“The Big Red Affair” or “Girl. Drives.Truck. The Prequel.”
This event happened the first summer after I moved to The Good Land. We were still living on the Old Farm back then. And I was still adjusting to the culture shock of living in a small town. I was not in the Big City anymore and this tale proved it. Names have been changed to protect the innocent....such as they are.
OK to set this up I need to remind everyone about Big Red - our big ol' three quarter ton Ford F-250, extended bed, extended cab, 4 wheel drive, fire engine red work truck. We love Big Red. Unlike in civilization, no one here gives me the finger on the freeway or cuts me off. Especially when I'm driving Big Red with the country music blaring, the NRA sticker in the window, and the big ol' police badge on the back license plate. Whoot!
And now the story.
Generally The Big Man drove Big Red to work. But one week I thought I'd use it and he could drive one of our many other Ford trucks because what could happen? Right? Right.
So one sunny fall day I drove Big Red into town to get the mail (because they didn't deliver out there). I happened to park next to the curb at the post office but didn't think anything about it. Whatever. I waltzed on in and ask for the certified letter at the counter as we had a pick up notice in the box.
The post lady said to me “So, who are you? Are you Mrs. The-Big-Man? I noticed that we got some mail for you."
And she was giving me that disapproving look because what I had received was my unemployment check. Back then not every third person was laid off so I was considered a bad seed. And I was a newcomer. Still using my old name. No one had ever asked me anything like this in the Big City. Mostly folks there just avoid eye contact and hope no one talk to you.
Not wanting to share all my business I just stammered “Umm... err...Sure I'm Mrs. The-Big-Man.”
Now technically I wasn't Mrs. The-Big-Man. Yet. I was still going by my pre-married name...and out here its just easier if they just think you are already married... No harm, no foul, and what the preacher doesn't know won't cause a stir at church.
So out to the truck and off I went. But a weird thing happened as I was pulling out. I briefly felt the truck roll up on the curb... and then there was this horrible screeching, grinding noise. It was awful - metal on ...something.. oh geez! oh geez!... and then I was stuck.
Yep. I was stuck. Some how I ended up with one tire on one side of the curb and the other tire on the other side of the curb...and on the sidewalk about 18 inches lower than the parking lot... which meant I was run aground. Stuck. Really stuck. Incredibly stuck. No, I could not go forward and no, I could not go back. Stuck. The truck was straddling the curb and would not budge.
“Well this was much worse then the time I got Big Red dug in up to the axle in the muddy field.” I said to myself hoping I wouldn't have to call and confess I was stuck in a big ol' 4x4. In town. On a dry day. On pavement.
“GOOD NIGHT! Honey, how did that happen?” The lady from the post office came running out to see what was what.
Then a guy from across the street came running out... then the lady from the business next door showed up. A crowd had started to gather.
And of course I had been painting all day so I was covered in paint, and dust, and you know I'm always pretty grungy anyway. More people came out of their homes. Everyone was looking. There I was for all the world to see, enormous red truck, paint in my hair...stuck. Obviously stuck.
Just when I thought it couldn't get worse the town sheriff showed up, blue lights flashing and all. Beaufort T. Beerbelly and his side kick Johnny Law stepped out of their patrol car.
“Say boys, ain't this a bi*ch?” I called to them gesturing to the stuck truck.
They were not amused at all.
From behind his mirrored sunglasses Johnny Law drawled, "Women drivers... no survivors.. that's for sure."
Now all y'all know very well I got me a 'screw you attitude' that extends about a mile in all directions and I'm very happy to tell just about anyone exactly what I think of them. So after that comment I was feeling my Irish getting up and I reared back to tell this local yokel exactly what I thought.
But then it occurred to me that I might just be in some kind of violation for demolishing their curb and blocking an intersection. Best to keep quiet and be cooperative. I smiled though gritted teeth.
“How'd that happen?” They asked.
By this time about 14 people had already asked that and I was starting to make things up. “Aliens. Yes, aliens came down and did this.”
“Bears! It was bears!”
Or my personal favorite, “This is how we do it, West Coast Style...I'm parkin' it like its hot.” 'Cuz you know I'm cool like dat and I like to rap like this. And like this.
Of course the cops couldn't help me a bit. But they informed me that this happens to a lot of people. Nice. Now what?
Well, Jean from next door called out that she was headed over to get James and he could probably help me. Off she went. No really. I'm telling you she got in her car and drove away to find him! No one in civilization will even give you the time of day let alone get in their car and go and find someone to help you with your stuck truck. I was amazed.
I wondered who this James was but apparently everyone knew him. I gathered this from the murmurs of approval from the crowd.
Well, I figured it would beat calling The Big Man and telling him that I was stuck on the curb.
More people gathered. And of course every third car honked so they could wave at the sheriff. Just about everyone in the county drove by. One ol' boy in a beater K car that was draggin' its back end drove by and called out that he'd be back if I still needed help after he picked up his kids.
Others offered helpful advice. “Well you know, Missy, that truck has all the power it needs to just back right over that curb. All's you got to do is get in there and gun it... but it would probably rip that tire right off.”
Perhaps we could strive for the least amount of damage?
A busload of jeering children went by. A gal with big hair and frosted lipstick in a similar red truck which was not stuck on a curb drove by giving me the head shake and the “Um.. umm. Umm.” And then she yelled out “How'd that happen?”
Elves. Mean elves did this to me.
I resorted to witty conversation with Johnsonville's Finest. “Say, is this the most interesting thing that has happened to you fellas all day?” I asked hoping to break the awkward silence.
They both turned, simultaneously, looked over their mirrored shades, stuck their thumbs in their belts, and said flatly, "No."
The sun blazed. I looked for a hole to crawl into. Even more people came by to offer advice and ask, “How'd that happen?” Neighbors came out on their porches and called other people. They drove by also.
Finally James showed up in what looked to be the tow truck straight off the Dukes of Hazzard set. He screeched in, tools a-bangin', smoke billowing. I have to say, that man was hand picked to live in our little town. Yes, he was wearing a NASCAR t-shirt. Yes, he had several teeth missing. Yes, he had a bushy beard. And I swear the beer belly on this guy was amazing, not for its size but for its definition. I was literally stunned that his belly was perfectly round. Anyway. Predictably he asked, “How'd that happen?” Sigh.
To his credit, Toothless Joe (aka Skeeter, aka Cooter, aka James) sprang into action. He jacked up the truck, built a ramp of 4x's and provided polite yet pointed instruction about how I should back the truck up slowly... a shimmy and a shake and a roar of the motor ...and...and Bob's your uncle... I was FREE!
So I paid James ten whole dollars for the fee. But I felt so awful that I had to give him a little extra - I called it beer money. Then I headed over to the ask Jean if there is any way I can thank her for driving over to get James?
“Oh Honey! Its the Lords work! That's Jesus for you! God just loves you honey!” She happily exclaimed and she very nearly smothered me with a hug.
As I walked back to the safely parallel-parked Big Red I heard someone from the post office ask the post lady, “Who's that?”
“THAT'S Mrs. The-Big-Man.”
I skulked away. It cost me $10, a case of beer, and all my pride but Big Red and I drove off into the sunset.
And that's what happened.