Talk to Strangers: Portraits of America / Travel

Save a Family, Change a Tire

No, it’s not as exciting as riding a cowboy, but helping people gives me a boost of energy even when I’m burning in the hot, desert, Texan sun. (And I like building up the Karma account when I can’t build up the bank account.)

As I leave Sanderson, TX all jazzed from my tuna snack and chat with an old Joe (literally) I spot a white car on the right shoulder. The lights are blinking and the trunk is open and I decide to slow down and ask if everything’s all right. I honestly don’t expect a “no” in this age of cell phones, so I’m surprised when the mother says “actually, we have a flat tire.”

Turns out her and her three adorable kids are on their way to Alpine, to surprise her husband who’s on duty for the weekend. Unfortunately, they have no jack, nor do they have experience changing a flat.

So we unload my “trunk” in search for my jack and finally find it under the driver seat. (In the haste of packing for my trip back in January, I *knew* I had all the supplies, but couldn’t remember where in the world Scion would hide their jack. I’m glad I discover this now and not alone, in the dark.) We almost give up, until we realize none of us have any cell phone coverage out here. So I can’t even call friendly Joe from Sanderson to come out and help, even though I know he would. (He gave me his address so I can send him his photos and a phone number in case I find myself out near Big Bend National Park again.)

I’m nervous as the girls, in 5th and 10th grades, stand near the highway and especially as the little 15mo boy toddles over. So I ask repeatedly for them to stand on the other side of the car, but not so far as to play with the rotting deer carcass.

Now that we have the car jacked up, we can’t seem to get the lug nuts to budge. I chuckle as I imagine what the passersby must think as they see four women beside a stranded vehicle, one fiercely jumping up and down (on the lug nut wrench). And then I chuckle, knowing that no one will stop.

It’s a bit of a struggle, but in the end we get the spare tire on, I snap four more photos and jot down their info so I can share the photos when I’m finished with this leg of the project. Hope they make it in time to surprise dad. And I remind myself to surprise my dad, who I haven’t talked to in quite some time.

I take a break in a nearby town, and am jazzed to find free wi-fi and a fresh and organic food deli. I haven’t had food like this since Portland! With El Paso in Mountain Time, I may still make it before midnight.

ps. I didn’t write this up to prove how much I kick ass, cuz there is no boundary to the vast empire of the ass I kick. It’s for the folks who worry about me traveling. “Look, ma, no hands!”

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