Friday, September 10, 2010

Not worth the Stress

The other night as I was riding 60 miles home in a tow truck, the driver, a young man about 26 or so, said that he was amazed I wasn't stressed out. After some reflection, I too was amazed. After more reflection, I realized that I have never been stressed out about things like that. Figuring out what to do with limited resources is what we do in Real Rural America and I learned it at a young age.

I had been asked to judge art, photography and handicrafts at a county fair. Just as I was about a mile out of town, my car started making a loud knocking noise. I hadn't used my car to drive more than a mile or two every four months or so in over two years, but had no idea it was in as bad of shape as it apparently was.

The oil was fine and the temperature gauge never moved slightly above cold. As I had no oil pressure gauge and only a service engine idiot light, I knew I was in a predicament. My car knocked, stalled because of lost compression and finally limped its way to the fairgrounds, where I found a parking place. I knew I couldn't drive it back home.

I was early so after I checked in with the Home & Garden lady to let her know I had arrived. She welcomed me but was busy and pointed me to the food stand to get something to eat. While I was in line, I noticed a young sheriff off to the side. When I got my food it occurred to me that he would know if this little town of 1700 people had a tow truck company. Luckily for me they did and after he asked me whether or not I had Triple A, I told him no, the sheriff got me a number from his dispatcher.

After I called to ask the towing company how much they would charge me to get my car home, I knew I was okay. They charged $3 a mile but the owner was going to give me a special deal because I wasn't using Triple A. It was almost all of my emergency cash stash at home, but because we both lived in a small town and I was judging at their fair, we had a mutual sense of trust.

When I got back to the Home and Garden building I was asked how my trip was and I told her about my car. She was nice enough to offer me a place to stay overnight if I needed to. She said that she lived ten miles outside of town, but I knew I had a place to stay if I had to.

Just that morning I had been reading a blog and once of the comments was about how a Triple A membership is a good thing and can save you money on a tow. Their premium membership would have covered the 60 miles but sitting in the truck with the driver was enlightening. I had Triple A when I lived in Southern California but it isn't widely used in rural America. Apparently, Triple A refuses to reimburse tow truck drivers for their total costs and their customers have to pay the difference.

We had a long ride together (60 miles) to drop my car off at home and a nice chat about life in our respective small towns. He regretted the loss of their school and manufacturing jobs but he had ideas he was wanting to pursue so he and his young family could stay in rural America.

He helped me get the car parked and at 11:06 at night he started on his way back home. He is one of the reasons I am extremely hopeful about life in Rural America. We will survive whatever life throws at us and not stress out about it.