The family of four (Mom, Dad, and two tween boys) approached me at the front of the parking lot.
Where’s the closest gas station? the man asked me.
We get this question a lot in the parking lot, so I knew the answer.
The closest gas station is twenty-five miles that way, I said, pointing. If you’re going that way, I said, pointing in the opposite direction, the closest gas station is about thirty-five miles.
I’m not going to make it thirty-five miles, the man said.
Well, you’ll have to go that way, I said, pointing again. I explained where he’d have to turn and told him about the one pump behind the community’s general store.
So they have diesel? the man asked me.
Diesel? Who’d said anything about diesel?
I suppose when the man said gas station, he’d been envisioning a full-service, multi-pump establishment with a convenience store and restrooms, where, of course, diesel would be available. I was telling him about what was actually there: one gas pump behind a little store selling ice and a few food items.
I don’t think they have diesel, I said. I think they only have regular unleaded.
Should we call Triple A? the woman asked the man. Will they even come out here?
I think Triple A will go anywhere on pavement, I told them. The nearest pay phone is about eight miles away.
The woman lifted her cell phone and showed it to me while slightly smirking, as if I were an idiot.
Most people don’t get cell service out here, I said.
Do you have a signal? the man asked her hopefully.
The woman deflated like a balloon the morning after a birthday party. I don’t know, she said.
She determined she had no signal.
What should we do? they asked each other.
I had no more information to offer. I’d told them where the nearest gas was. (Unfortunately, they didn’t need gas.) I’d told them where to find the nearest pay phone. There was nothing more I could do.
You’re already here, I told them. It’s early in the day. You might as well walk the trail.
A truck was approaching the parking lot’s exit. The driver of the truck spoke to the main in need of diesel. The man in need explained his predicament. He asked the driver of the truck if he had a full fuel tank. He told the driver he had a siphon. The driver agreed to let the man in need siphon some diesel from his tank.
Oh thank God! the woman exclaimed, but she sounded more like someone who wanted attention than like someone who was grateful for the blessing the Lord had sent.
The man in need walked back to his truck. The driver followed in the truck with the tank full of diesel.
The woman and the kids stayed up front near me.
He’s camped next to us, the woman told me. We don’t even know him.
The woman really wanted my attention.
It’s kind of him, I said flatly. I was tired and didn’t want to chitchat.
The woman and kids crossed the road to walk the trail.
The siphoning must have gone well, because later I saw the family drive away in their truck.
They must have been city people. City people are accustomed to finding a gas station every few blocks. It’s not like that in these mountains. People around here live in communities with no gas (and/or diesel) available for purchase. The nearest gas station may be twenty-five, thirty, forty miles away.
I once read a book aimed at solo women travelers. One suggestion the book gave was to never let the fuel in one’s vehicle to go below a quarter of a tank. It’s good advice that I take to heart. I also recommend folks not take off into remote areas without knowing how much fuel they have, how far that fuel can take them, and the distance to the next place where they can buy fuel. There’s not always going to be a Good Samaritan in the parking lot or a multi-pump gas station just down the road.
Photo courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/blur-dusk-evening-gas-station-399635/.
You would think something like that would be obvious, wouldn’t you? I guess government NannyCare doesn’t extend out to the boonies.
A lot of people don’t seem to be capable of thinking. They go into the desert without a good supply of water. They go to remote places without even basic paper maps, always thinking their GPS will provide. If they have a GPS, they turn it on, plug in their destination and turn off their brains.
If other people weren’t so helpful, many of these people would just die alongside the road. Maybe that’s what ‘survival of the fittest’ means.
Last Saturday, I was following a big, shiny red pickup with several bumper stickers referring to sex on the bumper and a pit-type dog loose in the back. He was driving like a typical younger male NASCAR-wannabe: hard stops, fast starts, centrifigal-force turns, and the dog was having trouble staying on his feet. As it turns out, we’re both headed for a country freeway on-ramp. There’s a bit of a straight stretch, and the dog puts his front feet on the right side of the bed and leans looking around the cab with the wind in his ears. On-ramp coming up. There’s a left-hand turn to the ramp and sure enough, the bozo takes it as fast as he can, straightens up, and guns the motor up to the freeway.
What he had failed to notice is that he has flipped his dog right out of the truck. The dog hit the ground and rolled several times. By the time I got to him, he was on his feet and looking around, breathing hard. Not knowing what kind of pit he was, I drove near him slowly and called to him. He started wagging his tail furiously. I got out and petted him and checked for obvious injuries. He was muddy, but seemed okay. I clipped on my always-carry red leash and put him in the passenger seat of my little truck and rolled up the window.
Going up the ramp, I was wondering if the idiot had even noticed his dog was missing. No, he hadn’t. He was nowhere in sight. Okay, now what should I do? Look for the owner/idiot, take the dog to Animal Services (iffy with pit breeds), or take him home and watch Craigslist?
I pulled into Home Depot (my destination), still thinking. Looking for a parking space, I noticed a skinny young guy waving his arms and stomping around. There’s a red pickup nearby. It has bumper stickers on the bumpers.
So I stopped about twenty feet from him, and yelled, “HEY, A$$HOLE!” He turned around and glared at me.
“Hey, A$$home, did you lose something?” If looks could kill, I would have been a pile of ashes.
Naturally, he starts mouthing off, working F between every other word. I put my chin in my palm, propped my elbow on the windowsill, and kept a bored expression on my face and waited. My question did not compute. He was maybe twenty, with one of those narrow ratlike faces of the local inbred morons. It took him almost a minute to even notice my passenger.
“Hey, that’s my dog!” Well, he recognized the dog, so I’ll give him an IQ equal to his shoe size.
What happened next was a jaw-dropper.
Watching the moron, I didn’t notice the vehicle behind me. It as a nice, clean, white County Sheriff SUV. The kid walks past me toward the officer, pointing at me, and yelled, “That woman stole my dog!”
I turned off the ignition and waited, grinning. The officer walks up, looks at me, looks at the dog, and asks if that is my dog. I said no, I found him. And then I told him what had happened. I pointed out the wet mud on the dog’s mostly-white coat.
The officer turned and looked at the kid. The kid cooled down really fast. He looks in the kid’s truck and asks where the tie-downs are to secure the dog.
“Uh, ah… I had him in the cab.”
“How did she get him out of the cab, and where did it happen? Why are you parked and she stopped right near you?”
The kid was a really lousy liar. He couldn’t even keep his lies straight in that short conversation.
The cop looks right at him and says, “Everything she said is true, isn’t it?”
The cop turns to me and asks if the dog is injured. I get out and walk around to the passenger side. I open the door and assist the dog to the ground, just in case. The officer pets him and tells him he’s a good boy, dodges the licky tongue and feels him all over. No cringing or shying away, wagging the whole time. The kid has followed but doesn’t interrupt. The officer wipes one of the muddy spots and looks at the residue on his hand, and then at the boy. Then back at me.
“What’s was your plan for this dog?”
I said I was probably going to take him to Animal Services, but I didn’t know if they automatically destroyed pit breeds (some shelters do). But since I had found his owner, and the dog seems all right with him, I might as well give him back.
So that’s what I did. When I headed for Home Depot, the officer was talking about giving the kid a ticket for an unsecured dog in a vehicle, a dog with no license, a pit breed loose at large, abuse of an animal, etc.
I was still grinning as I walked into the store. Some cops are just GREAT!
Good story, Sue. I hope the cop did write him several tickets.