Swamped

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So there I sat, in the middle of a sweet green meadow separating the off-ramp I wasn’t supposed to take from the road I wanted to be on, hubcap deep in swamp.

I did get out of my car and squish around a bit and take pictures with my cell phone, but this one from Fotolia looks more dramatic.

I did get out of my car and squish around a bit and take pictures with my cell phone, but this one from Fotolia looks more interesting. In the interests of accuracy, I should mention that I don’t drive a 4×4. Also, I had the good common sense not to get the mud quite this churned up.

If this had happened in my hometown, within minutes pickups would have clustered like flies, disgorging big-bellied guys with beards and NRA caps (or, possibly, their equally capable wimmin), and they’d have guffawed a bit and called me ma’am and hooked up chains and popped me out of there in no time. Of course, in my hometown on the dry east side of Washington State, we don’t have swamps lying around sneakily concealed under a layer of green. Here, if you need to pop across a highway median, you glance quickly around to check for inconvenient Highway Patrol officers and then you bebop across with a quick swing of the steering wheel, no problem.

I was not in my hometown. I was in Seattle. Well, Bellevue, if you can tell the difference. There are no pickups there, and nobody belongs to the NRA, and they don’t interrupt their commute to engage with beswamped and baffled strangers. I know this with no shadow of doubt because I sat in that field for nearly an hour, surrounded on all sides by rush hour traffic, so I had ample opportunity to ponder the differences between there and here.

Someone must eventually have called 911 – which it hadn’t occurred to me to do, because I was busy calling my few west-side friends in hopes of finding just one with a truck and/or manly man readily at hand, or at least a useful suggestion as regards a towing company. (These calls took a while because of all the laughing.) At any rate, a state patrol car pulled up and a sweet boy wearing a strangely flat, broad-brimmed hat ambled squishily across the swamp to ask me if I was okay. He seemed to be under the impression that I had collided with something and sailed violently off the road. (Folk in Seattle don’t have enough to occupy their imaginations during rush hour, apparently.) I had to explain that no, I had merely been attempting unobtrusively to sidestep an inconvenient traffic rule having to do with staying on the road.

“So you’re not hurt?” he said.

“Only my dignity,” I replied glumly. He thanked me for my honesty, took my license and registration, and squished back to his car.

I wondered whether telling the cop I was on an errand of mercy would make him more sympathetic. (There was a hound puppy in my back seat. The puppy had a broken leg. His owners had opted to have him euthanized rather than pay for surgery. The vet, who objects to killing healthy young dogs, had called me to ask if I knew who might help her find an alternative, and I’d found a rescue willing and able to save both the puppy and his leg … on the liberal, moneyed side of the state. Of course, it followed naturally that I got to drive the puppy to safety…)

The pathetic yodeler, whose relentless wailing was a big reason why I absolutely could not consider going back and around and in any way prolonging the trip.

The pathetic yodeler who was the cause of all the trouble.

I wondered whether it would be more effective to engage the patrolman’s sympathies for me, a woman old enough to be his beloved mother, lost and bewildered in foreign climes. (At the end of a long drive, heading straight into the setting sun, I’d had to go through all four loops of a cloverleaf interchange. Over and over again, my GPS told me to “take the right ramp”, and I obeyed until dizzy right up to the point that she told me to keep straight and I didn’t and I found myself headed back toward Spokane, and I just couldn’t stand the thought of driving back to the next interchange and turning round and returning along the packed highway and through the loops of the interchange and probably missing my turnoff all over again.)

The puppy, who had been singing his hound dog lament on and off since about the time we crossed the Cascades, started another aria. I wondered what the cop would do if I leaped from the car, tore off all my clothes, and ripped off the puppy’s head with my teeth, before plunging into the swamp and disappearing in a swirl of greasy bubbles. While I was still considering this option, he returned.

“I’ve called a tow truck,” he informed me.

“Are you going to fine me?” I asked, with a demeaningly pathetic quaver in my little-old-lady-puppy-saver voice. (Heck, yeah, I’ll demean myself to avoid another black mark on my car insurance!)

He chuckled kindly. “I think the cost of the tow will be penalty enough,” he said.

He was right.

I did think about a few other things while I was sitting there, in the blazing late afternoon sun, breathing swamp gas and traffic fumes and waiting for a tow truck while a hurting hound puppy made music behind my head. For example, I wondered what it said about my claims to feminism that the first thought to come to mind, after my car oozed to a stop, was, “Oh bugger … Himself is too far to call. Who’s going to rescue me now?”

And later, after sun and swamp gas had softened my brain a bit, I got to wondering how different my situation might be if, say, I’d been a buff young black man, instead of a fat useta-be-middle-aged white woman. If I’d been a muscular young man engaged in hauling that car out of the swamp by sheer brute force and testosterone at the time the state patrolman pulled up, I might have reacted a little differently to questioning by a slightly-built youth in a cute hat. And if, in addition to being muscular, young and male, I’d also been black, would that sweet boy in his hat have felt sufficiently threatened to shoot me?

Mostly, though, I thought about how completely screwed I will be in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Really, I’ll be meat in no time at all.

Probably not me.

Probably not me.

Is it just me, or do you also ponder strange and random things when sitting in the middle of a swamp? Have you ever been embarrassed by a sloppy failure to break the law?

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About Belladonna Took

Into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, at constant risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic. A wife, a mom, a daughter and sister, kind of a grandma. Until recently a full-time dog rescuer, now more concerned with rescuing myself. User of dog hair as accessory, decor and garnish. Technical writer, strategic thinker, occasional entrepreneur. Voiceless poet and storyteller. Born again Christ-follower and former missionary schoolteacher chewing on some uncomfortable questions. Ignorer of rules, challenger of assumptions, believer in miracles. Skeptical libertarian, equal opportunity despiser of politicians and assholes. Gonnabe gardener, wannabe beekeeper, Monsanto-hating tree-hugger. Morbidly obese chocaholic, with a horse I don't ride because I might break him, and if not he would probably break me.

15 responses »

  1. This one more than earned its Like. I was disappointed to read that you weren’t driving a 4 x 4 (although I don’t like them and they’re gas hogs and all that stuff) because it would have given me an excuse to haul out a saying of Wild Thing’s: They’re a certain kind of trouble that only a fool and a 4 x 4 can get into. A fact she discovered for herself when she was driving one. But here I’ve managed to get it out of storage, dust it off, and present it anyway.

    Like

    • Thank you for the visit and the like… 🙂 Also, I did have a small 4X4 for a while, and I have a husband with a truck, so I am familiar with that kind of trouble. These days I’m really just disturbed, and (sorry to sound PC, but it’s true) faintly sickened by the monsters I see mommies driving around the parking lot. I will never understand the American conviction that bigger is always better.

      Like

  2. Funny story, though I’m sure it wasn’t at the time. You realize, of course, this qualifies you for membership in the NAMB (National Association of Mud Boggers).

    Bless you for your work saving pups!

    Like

    • No, you’re right – at the time all I really wanted to do was rest my weary head on the steering wheel and go to sleep. But first I had to figure out a way to silence that darn puppy!

      Thanks for stopping by… 🙂

      Like

  3. What a CUTE dog! YAY for YOU for rescuing him/her! Your description of what your GPS did is the exact reason why I’ve NEVER used one in my life…I just got back from visiting an area I’ve never visited before and for each spot I wanted to check out, I googled the directions before hand and wrote them out…I’m SO old school but I don’t want to be driving around in circles.

    Like

    • I used to sneer and jeer every time the various people in my life expressed happy thoughts about GPS. Then my stepson bought one for his dad, and I used it once or twice … and I was hooked. I LOVE it! Sure, it was sometimes fun back in the day when I invariably took the scenic route, and the Dirk Gently Navigation Method can be interesting, but it is also so much fun to look up and find myself exactly where I intended to be, and more-or-less on time, even!

      Like

    • Sadly, Mrs Took is… well let’s call it…. ‘Geographically Challenged’. I believe it has something to do with having been born south of the equator, but now living north of it. She is able to navigate just fine whenever we’re in Johannesburg… but the highways and byways of North America are beyond her ken. Consequently, a GPS is, for her, mandatory.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As a young-ish (I’m 30), pretty muscular white guy who usually wears nice clothes, I can tell you with absolute certainty, I would have gotten fined. The policeman would likely at least have his hand on his gun as he approached, as well.

    There’s an implied tradeoff in gender relations that is breaking down right now – men are disposable but active, women are precious but passive. I think that’s what you experienced.

    Like

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