In the middle of Texas, between roaming fields of nothing, no one, our front tire blew.
Mrs. Car (our van) wobbled to the side of the road, verging on the edge of a ditch. We jumped out of the van (literally jumped out of the windows since the doors were broken) to investigate - her tire was slices of rubber jerky.
"Shit," my mother sighed. In this particular situation, she was oddly calm. We had no cell phone, little money, and no spare tire. If this was a horror film for the 70s, it would be the perfect set up. A vulnerable, all-female family stuck on the side of the road. Thank heavens we hadn't seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre yet, we were about to live it.
We lingered in and around the van. I made some snacks. Sabrina wrote in her journal. My mother studied the map, chewing on the idea that maybe we could walk to the closest town.
Junction, Texas was the only town within 30 miles, and it was 10 miles away.
We were stranded, resting in the hands of fate to help us.
A while later, a beat-up truck stuffed with a Mexican family zoomed by. They turned around in the intersection - the highway was divided by a pit of grass - and rumbled over to our rescue. The father had a two-way radio in the front seat that he used to listen to truckers. In the realm of highway living, truckers are the gods. They know every road, every diner, highway cop, rest stop hooker, and automotive shop. They use the two-way radio to alert one another about bad drivers, police, and a good bite to eat (as well as their sexual escapades, but let's not delve into such matters)
In broken English, the father told us that he could put out a call to the other truckers to keep an eye on us while a tow truck came to take us to "Yunction." We were overjoyed and said thank you about a million times in both English and Spanish. The family smiled and waved as they drove off. Who knew if this plan would work, we only had hope.
Not too long after, a massive cargo truck rolled down the road. It paused in front of our van and a burly truck driver - decked out with a trucker cap, salt n' pepper beard, gold earring, and a greasy shirt - hollered at us. "Y'all the family with the blown tire?"My mother nodded, remaining stiff to show that she was tough, but all smiles. "Yes! We're waiting for a tow truck." The truck driver growled into his radio, mentioning us being stranded, the highway coordinates, and that we needed a tow truck. He looked us over once more. "Maybe some food, too."
He took off, wishing us the best of luck, and assuring us that the fellow truckers would keep an eye out until the tow truck came. We waved and spilled out our thanks, he tooted the horn a few times and raced down the highway.
For the next few hours, trucker after trucker tooted their horns as they passed us, checking in to see if we needed anything, giving us some fast food, and alerting the other truckers in the area of our status. This was the first time where I felt the unison of the American spirit. Strangers helping strangers with no intentions other than to protect. That notion solidified in my bones as I shuffled along the side of the road; stranded, free, and peaceful.
Then the tow truck came...
- The Diligent Gypsy