Tag Archives: tweakers

Tweaker and the Jack


That morning The Man had found out the lady he worked for had been hit by a truck. We didn’t have all the details, but we knew she was at the large university hospital being treated for a broken leg.

It was evening now, and I was headed home into the sunset after an afternoon of working on my blog at the public library. I was about seven miles from home, on the stretch of state highway where tourists often stopped to observe bighorn sheep living their wild lives.

8 bighorn sheep stand in the sage grazing
Bighorn sheep living their wild lives

About a quarter mile ahead I saw two cars, one parked on the eastbound side of the of the road, the other on the westbound side. Two women were crossing the highway. One woman was plump and wore a loose earth tone shirt over loose earth tone pants. Her dark, frizzy hair hung to her shoulders. The other woman had strawberry blond hair pulled back in a severe bun. She work black denim cutoffs and a tank top that barely concealed her black bra and barely contained her large, pale breasts.

Stupid tourists, I muttered to myself as I slowed the truck way down.

As I got closer to the women, a medium-sized dog jumped out of the open window of the car parked on the right. It bounded across the highway after its people. I brought the truck to a complete stop.

The woman with dark hair stopped in the middle of the highway, turned around, and spoke to the dog. The dog turned around, bounded back to the car, and jumped through the window it had come out of.

The woman with the bun made an elaborate arm gesture to me, the kind a fellow pretending to be a fancy gentleman might make to indicate, After you, madam.

I drove slowly past the women, wondering if the dog was going to dart out in front of me again or if one of the women was going to change her mind and try to scoot across the highway. After I passed the two parked cars, I pulled off on the barely-there narrow shoulder of the road.

To add to my questions (Who were these women?  Why were they stopped on the side of the road? Where were the bighorn sheep I thought they’d stopped to see?), while I was stopped I’d realized a friend of mine was parked on the opposite side of the road. She was on the shoulder of the eastbound lane, near the other parked car, but the front of her truck was facing west. As I drove slowly past I looked over to the driver’s side of the truck and confirmed, yep, that was my friend.

I only pulled off out of concern for my friend. As for as I could tell, the two women and the dog weren’t experiencing any distress, but I didn’t know what my friend might be dealing with.

My friend must have recognized my vehicle because by the time I got out of my truck, she’d pulled hers around and was parked behind me.

I was very cautious when I got out of my truck and walked on the narrow shoulder over to my friend’s Toyota. As soon as I could I got away from the highway and walked over to her passenger side. I was definitely thinking of The Man’s employer and her recent accident. No way did I want to get hit by a vehicle going 55 (or faster) on a state highway.

Are you ok? Are you ok? I asked my friend as I approached her vehicle.

She said she was fine. It’s her, she said pointing to the woman with the bun and short shorts who was now running across the road to our side. She needs a jack.

I need a jack, the woman echoed.

Oh, boy, I thought. I was torn between wanting to help and wanting to get home. I really didn’t want to hang out so close to the highway, but I knew I should help people in need.

I’ll get my jack, I told the woman with the bun.

I went back to my truck. I knew the jack was screwed down under the rear seat on the driver’s side. To get to the rear seat, I had to open the back door.  To open the back door, I had to open the front door. I couldn’t open either door very much because doing so would put the doors in danger of being smashed by someone driving too close to the shoulder.

I stood against the truck, the two doors resting against my body while I tried to lift the back seat to get to the jack. Suddenly the back door opened and the woman with the bun was standing next to me.

I told her I was getting the jack and would meet her at her vehicle. She didn’t budge.

I told her again that I was getting the jack and said she should go wait for me over there while pointing toward my friend’s vehicle. She still didn’t budge.

It was at that moment I began to suspect all was not right with this woman. First of all, no reasonable person would stand as close to the highway as she was standing if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Secondly, no person with any concept of the distance Americans like to keep between themselves and strangers would have put herself so close to me. Also, no one with an understanding of privacy would have put herself all up in my business inside my truck. Finally, I’d told her twice that she should step away from my vehicle. Of course, I’d been trying to be polite and hadn’t literally said step away from my vehicle, but I think most people would realize meet you at your car and wait for me over there meant the same thing.

I didn’t smell alcohol emanating from the woman’s pores or breath, and she wasn’t swaying or acting tipsy in any way. I figured she was maybe a bit socially awkward, but probably on meth. She had that swagger, that self-assurance. Someone on meth would be prone to think I needed her right there to hold the back door open for me and help me get the jack from under the seat. She likely thought she was the center of the whole damn universe and needed to be involved in every aspect of every single thing that was happening.

Look, I said to her.  Someone I know got hit by a car today. I don’t want you (or me, I thought to myself) getting hit by a car, so you go stand over there (I pointed in the direction of my friend’s truck again)  while I get the jack.

She still didn’t move. I don’t want you to get hit by a car either, she simpered.

At that point I should have just left, but the woman was still right next to me and not moving. I would have had to attempted to physically move her if I were going to leave. Besides, my friend was still out there. I didn’t want to leave her alone in this mess. Perhaps if I let the woman with the bun use my jack, we could all go home.

My irritation must have finally registered in the brain of the woman with the bun because she started in with Never mind. I don’t have a four way anyway. I won’t be able to change the tire anyway. Never mind. She sounded like a little kid who’s decided the world doesn’t love her because she’s not being allowed to have her way.

Oh no! I thought. I’m in this now. You’re going to use this jack! (My stubborn nature will probably be my downfall.)

Something (I have no idea what) caused the woman to (finally) step away from my truck and head back to her car, still calling out, Never mind. I don’t have a four way. Never mind.

With the jack finally I my hand, I left my truck. As I passed my friend’s truck, I shook my head and muttered uncharitably, Fucking tweaker.

Oh, I know! my friend said. She’s as high as a kite. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had noticed the woman’s unusual behavior.

I carefully crossed the highway with the jack and all its accessories in my arms. You can bet I looked both ways before I walked across. When I got to the bun woman’s car, she’d flipped a bunch of tool into the storage area of her hatchback and pulled her spare tire from some compartment. She was still moaning about not having a four way, but I was pretty sure I saw a red four way half covered by a floor mat (or something) there in the back among the piles of stuff.

Ummm…isn’t that a four way right there? I asked pointing.

She rummaged around and pulled out the red four way. I was the best! I was the greatest she exclaimed. (She could have been the best and the greatest too, had she only looked a little more carefully.)

I handed her my jack, and she took it and her four way to the passenger side of her Subaru. As I stepped as far away from the highway as I could, I finally saw the source of the problem I was now involved in. The rear tire on the back passenger side was not just flat; it was shredded. Poor gal’s tire had blown out on her way to town.

My friend had turned her small truck around again and was now parked behind the Subaru. She got out of her truck and walked over to me. We stood in the dry grass on the shoulder of the road and watched as the woman with the bun lift her car off the shredded tire.

How did you get involved in this?  I asked my friend.

The woman with the bun had showed up at the outdoor market where my friend was vending and said she needed a jack. My friend didn’t have a jack but thought she might be able to help in some way, so she drove her truck over to meet the Subaru. Now she felt as if she needed to stay until the situation was resolved.

The woman with the frizzy hair was not pleased with the situation. She didn’t think my jack was big enough. I figured if it was big enough to lift my giant truck, it would do ok with a Subaru station wagon, but I kept my thoughts to myself. The woman with the frizzy hair was also concerned that the shoulder where the Subaru was parked slanted down and then dropped away into a grassy area. She was afraid the car was going to topple over onto her friend while she changed the tire.

It was getting colder as the sun sank lower. The wind was blowing pretty hard too. I was chilly in my long skirt and short sleeved blouse. The woman with the bun was wearing a lot less clothing than I was, but she had physical activity and (probably) drugs coursing through her veins to keep her warm.

The woman with the frizzy hair made a phone call. She needs help, she said to the person on the other end of the line. She’s cold. She doesn’t have a jacket. She was obviously talking about her friend dealing with the blown out tire.

She needs a jack, the woman with the frizzy hair continued. Don’t you have a jack? she asked, then begged, Can’t you come and help?

The guy must have said he’d come over because the woman with the frizzy hair got off the phone.

By this time the woman with the bun had lifted her Subaru, but her friend begged her to wait for the fellow with the jack to arrive. The guy only lived a couple miles away, she said, He’d show up soon, and his jack was better anyway.

If the guy was coming with a better jack, I ventured aloud, maybe I could take my jack and be on my way.

The woman with the bun stood up from where she’d been sitting on the ground while removing the flat tire. She had ignored her friend’s pleading for her to wait for the man with the jack. It appeared she planned to get ‘er done. She walked over to the back of her car and rummaged around in the hatchback storage area again. When she stepped away from the hatchback, she was holding…a jack. It was the same size and design as the one I’d loaned her. She’d had a perfectly adequate jack the whole time. Why was I standing in the cold wind next to the highway?

Now there was a frenzy of activity. My jack was removed and her jack replaced it. I regained possession of my equipment.

I guess I’ll go, I told my friend. More than anything, I wanted to get off the side of the highway and go home, but I didn’t want to leave my friend alone in the middle of a fiasco.

My friend assured me she was fine and I could go. She said she would stay with the women until the guy arrived with the better jack. I knew I wouldn’t be any of any help even if I stayed, so I carried my jack across the road to my truck, hopped in, and headed home.

When I got home, I texted my friend to ask if the guy had arrived with the jack and if my friend was on her way home. She texted back and said she was on her way home. She said the guy with the jack had never shown up. The woman with the bun had taken off the shredded tire and put on the spare all on her own. Turns out she didn’t need anything but some moral support.

bighorn sheep looks at the camera
Bighorn sheep living its wild life in a rest area

I took the photos in this post.

Tweakers and the Flat


It was Wednesday, around noon, and I was patrolling in the campground across the street from the trail because it was the camp hosts’ day off. As I drove the company truck through the campground, I stopped to pick up trash and looked for campers I needed to check-in. At the back of the campground, I noticed something unusual.

A minivan was parked on site #7, but the picnic table on site #8 was loaded with food and cooking equipment. There was a reservation tag on site #8’s pole, so it looked as if the people with the reservation had arrived, unpacked onto site #8 but parked on site #7. Oh, if it had only been so simple…

I parked the truck across from the campsites and got out to tell the campers they needed to park their vehicle on the site they were camping on. Before I was out of the truck, I saw a man next to the minivan, waving me over. As I walked up, the man said something like I’m sure glad to see you…

It turned out these folks (the man who was glad to see me, probably in his mid-30s; a woman about the same age, with reddish-blond hair; a younger, shorter woman with curly dark hair; and a boy about 11 years old) didn’t have a reservation. They didn’t even want to camp. They’d just been driving through the campground and had pulled into site #7 and had gotten a flat. (They said they’d pulled into site #7 to turn around, which I realized later didn’t make any sense. The street through the campground is a one-way loop, so if they’d followed the street around, they would have soon come to the exit.)

Brown Spoke Car Wheel in Brown Sand during DaytimeThe man said when he pulled into site #7, he ran over one of the short wooden posts that mark the boundary of the parking space. He said he hadn’t seen the barrier because it was shorter than the rest. He seemed to imply that his flat tire was the fault of the company I worked for or maybe the Forest Service, whoever was responsible for the difficult-to-see wooden post. I remained calm and noncommittal when he insisted I walk over and see the wooden post. Sure, it was shorter than the rest of the barrier posts, kind of worn down with age, but it wasn’t invisible. None of the other people who’d pulled into site #7 during the summer had run over it.

When I went around the minivan to see the post that had caused the damage, I also saw the damage. To call the condition of the tire “flat” was quite an understatement. A better term for the condition of the tire was “blowout.” The tire was seriously damaged. The tire was not going to be repaired. The tire was a goner, an “ex-tire” a member of Monty Python might say.

I told the people they couldn’t’ occupy sites #7 and #8. The woman with the reddish-blond hair said when the tire blew out, they’d been so hungry they couldn’t think and decide to have some breakfast. I told them cooking was fine, but they should do it on site #7 since the minivan was parked there.

The man wanted to use the phone to call AAA. I told him there was no phone at the campground. I told him the nearest phone was about eleven miles away. I told him his best bet, if he wanted to use a phone, was to walk out to the highway that ran alongside the campground and stick out his thumb. I told him I wasn’t allowed to let anyone ride in the company truck. I didn’t tell him that no way was I putting him (or any other slightly twitchy male stranger) into my van and driving him through a practically deserted forest eleven miles to the nearest phone.

I’d begun to notice that the man was just a little twitchy, just a little off. I wasn’t sure if he (and the two women with him) were currently under the influence of methamphetamine, but I was pretty sure they’d been under the influence of some kind of upper recently and hadn’t gotten the amount of sleep they’d really needed the night before. NO WAY was I driving any of those people anywhere in my van.

At that point, I asked if they had a spare tire. They allowed that they did. I told them they should put the spare on the minivan, then drive to the payphone and call AAA. But the man really wanted AAA to bring them a new tire. He insisted that he really wanted to use the phone. I explained again: no phone in campground, nearest phone eleven miles away, you’ll have to hitchhike if you want to use the phone.

Several times throughout the summer, people acted incredulous when I explained that there was no means of the communication at my campground or at the trail’s parking lot or at the campground next door. I think people thought I was lying because I didn’t want them to use the phone I had hidden away. But no, there was no landline, no cell phone service, no satellite phone provided by the company I worked for. For real, the closest place to make a telephone call was eleven miles away.

The man was becoming less glad to see me, as I was proving most unhelpful. He said he wanted the Forest Service to help them. Wasn’t the Forest Service supposed to help people? he asked. He was not clear as to whether he thought the Forest Service should a) give him a ride to the pay phone so he could contact AAA or b) change the flat tire for him. I let him know I did NOT work for the Forest Service and said I’d talk to the other camp hosts and see if they had some ideas.

When I approached the camp hosts (who were trying to have a day off in their RV), they said they’d seen the minivan drive to the back of the campground around 10am. That meant the people had been back there with a blown-out tire for two hours and had done exactly nothing to change their situation. The camp hosts had the same suggestion I did: put on the spare and drive to the payphone.

I told the hosts the man had insinuated that the campground was somehow at fault for the blowout, and the female half of the camp host duo decided she’d better walk back to site #7 with me. She wanted to take some photos of the situation so she could cover her ass (and the company’s, I suppose) if the people tried to sue.

When the camp host and I returned to the back of the campground, the people had moved their things off site #8’s picnic table. I took that as a good start.

As the other camp host took photos with her phone, I told the man our best suggestion was for them to put on the spare and drive to the payphone to call AAA. Our second best suggestion, I told him was to walk out the highway and stick out a thumb. (I was polite, but I was losing patience.)

I don’t know how he did it—Jedi mind trick, I guess—but the man convinced me to drive the company truck to the Forest Service work center nine miles away and ask a Forest Service employee for help.

I swung by the parking lot first to tell my co-worker I might be late for my shift. When I explained the situation, my co-worker said—in his Shakespearean tone and cadence—I’d tell them to go fuck themselves.

That’s basically what the firefighter at the work center said, although in an infinitely more polite way. He said the Forest Service employees were busy fighting a forest fire, and in any case, they don’t offer roadside assistance. He said if the people needed help changing the tire, they should ask a camper on a neighboring site.

The people with the blown-out tire were not happy when I told them Forest Service personnel were not coming to their rescue.

I worked for a couple of hours in the parking lot, and around four o’clock, I went back to the campground to see if the folks with the blown-out tire were gone. They were not. However, they did have the spare on the minivan. The woman with the reddish-blond hair was all hyper when she told me they thought the spare was under the back storage area, so they’d taken everything out of the back, only to find there was no spare tire there. In fact, the spare tire was under the van. So not only had they wasted time taking out all their supplies, they had to spend time putting everything back in. But now everything was packed up, and the spare was on, and they’d be going.

Great! I said and went to tell the camp hosts the good news.

The camp hosts were not amused. In fact, one of them had driven to use the phone and called the company office and asked the office manager to call the sheriff of the Forest Service or someone who could kick out the people on site #7.

After I’d been gone a while, the female camp host walked to site #7 to see what progress was being made. When she walked up, she found a blanket strung from the minivan across to some bushes. As she was trying to figure out what was going on, the man and the woman with the reddish-blond hair jumped up from behind the blanket, pulling up their pants. The camp host was incensed and decided the messing around was going to end.

Five minutes after I’d told the camp hosts that the people from site #7 were ready to leave, we saw the minivan come slowly around the curve and then exit the campground. I was glad they left before some authority figure showed up. I wanted them gone too, but I didn’t want them to have to get involved with the cops.

I was glad to see their tweaker ways hit the road and leave me behind.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-spoke-car-wheel-in-brown-sand-during-daytime-53161/.