Last week I posted a story about rage, conflict, and fear.
This one is about empowerment.
Banging north on US 75, downtown behind me, as fast as the traffic would allow, I came upon a disabled car.
Newer mid-sized car stranded on the left shoulder, just at the end of the canyons. This is never a good place…especially at this time of day. The heat and the noise make it extremely hostile…lethal if given sufficient time…and the traffic and speeds ensure your annihilation should you try to cross out of the center median on foot. As a character in a favorite childhood animated film stated, “Sudden, instant, and even immediate…death.”
The heat? Many “not from these parts” may not view that as a threat…but it is. A surprisingly fast one too, if you are not prepared or accustomed to it. Once I carried a meat thermometer on this route during this part of the year just as an experiment. The wife saw me pulling it from her kitchen and raised an eyebrow as she started to ask a question…then shook her head and said (as she does for many of my endeavors), “I really don’t want to know, do I?”
The result? Air temps of 134 degrees.
A later trip with a laser thermometer measured the pavement at 150 degrees.
Oh, yeah, back to the car. Rear trunk open, spare tire leaning against the bumper. Tall, thin, olive-skinned young lady leaning against the concrete freeway divider. This setup (the tire/etc) is almost a universal sign of “I could use a hand.”
I took in the scene in an instant. A flash decision. You get good at those if you’re a motorcycle rider…at least…if you’re a motorcycle rider for very long.
I found some holes, hit the binders hard, a quick cut, and chirped the big machine to a stop just a car-length or two in front of hers. There’s a reason I keep the maneuvering skills honed and these brakes in tune.
I dismounted and walked back toward her, stopping a car-length away, just at her front bumper. Distance seemed appropriate. She was watching me warily. A front flat. The tire was partially off the rim and tangled. I doubted the (front wheel drive) car was capable of moving.
“You need some help with the tire?”
“No. I could change it, but the spare’s flat too.” She held up her phone. “Road service is on the way.”
“Cool. Would you like me to wait with you?”
This city, like any this size, is a predator of the highest order. She…if she’s unwary or unprepared, is its ideal prey, and here…with literally, 300+ cars per minute passing her by…some of the worst inhabitants are bound to notice her. Most of the rest are actively striving not to…
“I’d rather you didn’t. I’m okay, and they’re on the way.”
I get it. The motorcycle thing…and the “male” thing…and the “stranger” thing. It is the way of the world now…at least in the cities…and sadly, there is some reason for it. It doesn’t offend me or bother me in the least to be dismissed in this way by her…but neither does it moderate my concern…or relieve me of the obligation.
“Are you sure? I just want to make sure you’ll be okay. I can stay right here.” I patted the hot concrete divider I was now leaning on.
Not much reassurance I know…if I was up to no good the 20 feet separating us would be no hindrance at all, and comparing her build verses mine doesn’t take much pondering to know I could break her in half in an instant. With the concrete and traffic, there’s simply no where to go without a vehicle.
At this she turns a little hip towards me and momentarily pulls her shirt down tighter against her jeans, and chuckles. “No, I’ll be fine.”
I immediately felt better and returned her smile. “Okay, excellent! Good girl. You take care then!”
And I was off…mounting the big cruiser and hitting 70 within a few car-lengths so I could safely enter the traffic.
She stood as good a chance against any evil that may see her as an opportunity as could be reasonably prepared for. What she had revealed in that moment she tugged her shirt down, was the silhouette of a holstered, semi-auto handgun. Yep. Good girl. Empowered. The great equalizer.
Empowered. Yep. She would be fine.
That didn’t stop me, however, from hitting the next exit and a couple bat-turn-lanes, and hanging out on the service road right near a freeway entrance and a mile or so behind her where I could keep her (barely) in sight until the wrecker showed up.
And yep, some will say I’m a sexist douchebag I suppose. Would I have done this for a guy? Not really, I would have stopped, but once dismissed I’d have been on my way without a second thought.
Deal with it.
I am what I am…and I know the things I know. The world cares not a wit for what folks wish were true.
Y’all be safe out there.