A friend in Charlotte once said to me, “You may be small, but you take up a lot of space.”
I’m not sure what she meant by that remark, but I felt both of these simultaneously yesterday. Yes, I am short. Ron reminds me of this fact every time he gets into the car to drive after I have been in the car. He says every single time, “A dwarf has been in this car!” It never gets old for him. Truly he can barely squeeze behind the wheel after I get out. I am not only short, but I drive as if I were ninety years old, with both hands on the wheel in a death grip, leaning forward hunched over. I am so easily distracted that I hyper-focus while behind the wheel. Friends beep their horns as they pass me, but I never dare to check on who it is or to wave.
The car I drive is a Scion. It is a good size for me, because it is low to the ground so I don’t have to haul myself up into the driver’s seat. It is also compact and lightweight but has ample cargo space. After the giant FJ Cruiser we used to have, I am happy to drive this car.
Yesterday after I had lunch with my good friend Christine, I went to the Screendoor and loaded up the Scion with great finds. Another good friend, Joyce, had given me a book called Potted Gardens which showed a series of images of plants billowing out of old cans, boots, machine parts, and broken toys. It is just my esthetic and gave me inspiration to fill up the shop with plants in unusual containers. The objects I had discovered at the Screendoor were perfect for my new project.
After I left the Screendoor, I headed to Appalachian Nursery on US-70 in Swannanoa to purchase some plants. The nursery is located near Warren Wilson College, but to get to it, you have to drive up a ramp and over the railroad tracks. The nursery is located in the valley below the tracks next to a prosperous-looking construction company.
I drove up the incline with the sun in my eyes and the dashboard of the car standing like a high wall in front of my eyes. I thought I was headed straight down the narrow driveway, but instead I was going towards the right, and with a “kachunk!” the car dipped down into a hole between the tracks. I couldn’t get it to budge either forward or back. I got out of the car to look, and was appalled to see that the car was caught there and was positioned right across on the tracks.
I knew that a train usually comes by at about three o’clock, and it was 2:45. My first thought was that I was an idiot. Then I thought about the train slamming into the car and causing harm to the conductor. After that I was concerned about the treasures I had stored in the back seat. I was scared of losing them. The car, I knew, could be replaced, but those antiques…never!
I left my purse and everything else in the car and ran down the hill to the nursery. I was squawking loudly about my car being on the tracks, and the two women in the shop got nervous right along with me. I used their phone to call 911 and was impatient with the unflappable man who answered. He was a slow-talker who didn’t seem to understand that if he didn’t do something quickly, I would be the lead story on the six o’clock news. He told me he would notify the railroad and send a wrecker.
I was unsure that this guy was going to do anything, so I again ran to the construction company next door. Waving my arms and jumping around like Rumplestilskin, I begged them to help. This group of men leapt into action and raced with me back up the hill to the car. They told me to get in the car and make sure it was in reverse. They asked me several times to make sure, as I was clearly a road-menace, and with a good shove, they pushed the car backwards out of the ditch and sent me on my way. It took an hour for my heart to stop racing! I called 911 again to let them know that all was well.
I want to bring some donuts to these heroes, but I’m scared to drive over those tracks again. Ron assured me this morning that he would be the bearer of donuts for me today. It’s times like these that reassure me that there is good in the world. And there are also bad drivers.