Stephenville Empire-Tribune, August 2018
College kids are beginning to trickle back into town. The population seems to quadruple in Norman during the week leading up to registration and classes. I am glad I will be a senior this year and will soon be blowing this popsicle stand. Headed for greener pastures. Well, probably not greener. This suburban university community has more actual green pastures surrounding it than any other place I have lived. A lot of cows too…I let my mind wander as I am sitting in traffic, trying to keep my mind off of the heat.
My foot is hard on the brakes, as I stretch across the bench seat, fingertips just brushing the window crank. If...only...I...could…I give up, sitting straight up behind the wheel, and turn my face to the open window on my left. I am sweating and could sure use the cross breeze. I flop toward the far window again, foot still pressing the brakes. Not gripping but pushing, pushing, pushing (righty tighty; lefty loosey) coaxing the knob at the handle base up and to the left counterclockwise. Wrong way. The righty-lefty rhyme not window-handle appropriate. Pulling now clockwise and, aah, a tiny crack but enough to feel a poof of air.
I sit upright as a horn behind me honks. The car with engine revving, zips around me, the back of a hand with a middle finger extended, plastered against the passenger window. “Move that bucket,” wafts back through my open window. Still, I sit with my foot on the brakes, my leg beginning to twitch and cramp.
Summers. They're the worst. And me just trying to get to work—a tease as I am within walking distance now. I feel a trickle of sweat make its way down my spine, the heavily-starched long-sleeve polo shirt starting to dampen under my arms. I will be carrying my tray laden with cocktails low. Can’t expose sweaty pit stains to my customers.
Another honk, swerve and glare. How much longer will my cramping foot endure this strain? I feel my kitten-heel shoe slipping down on the pedal and increasing the tension, turn my face away from the steady stream of cars now passing—exuding angry looks and harsh comments; if looks could kill…
The sun blinds me as I look over to see a shadow figure, back-lit by the sun, moving toward my open window; “Do you need assistance?” from lips, smiling, as his face lowers into the shade of my crippled car. He is quite handsome. A God-send. An angel? It is possible, since he appeared out of nowhere.
“My car shut off and I can’t get it to shift into park. The parking brake is stuck,” I say, concentrating on keeping my car from rolling back into the growing line of cars, waiting to pass.
“Quite a traffic jam you’ve created,” he chuckles. “Let's get you off this road.”
I smile at the thought that I won't even be very late for work.
Thank you, stranger.
[Read more about Dino the Car]
By Lisa H. Owens