The first workday of the New Year was memorable. Actually, shortly after it got started, I wondered if it would be a day I’d always regret. Have you ever done anything really stupid? If you have, then you’ll probably be able to identify with how I felt.
Actually, the morning started great. I awakened at 4:45 a.m. and turned off my alarm. I quickly posted my blog for the day, showered, got dressed, packed luggage into my car and backed out of the driveway. I guess I should mention that I spent Sunday night at the Strauss Haus in Cat Spring, Texas. My wife and I stayed there Saturday night. The General rode back to Henly with my daughter and her husband on Sunday afternoon. Since I had a morning meeting in Houston, it was senseless for me to go back home and then turn around the following morning to drive back the same road I had just driven. Consequently, I stayed another night in Cat Spring.
Sunday evening I had an opportunity to visit with Ryan and Carla Reichardt while they were visiting with my son and his family. Ryan is my daughter-in-law’s brother. In the course of conversation, he mentioned that he’d recently pulled a truck out from being stuck. He said, “I could almost double as a wrecker service. When anyone in Cat Spring gets stuck, they call me.” He good-naturedly is “an answer to prayer” for many who find themselves up to their hubcaps in mud. If you ask me, the soil around Cat Spring is like quicksand. When it gets wet, you’re going down. That is true whether you are walking or driving in a car. You can ask me, I’ve experienced both.
That gets me back to my story of doing something really stupid. The driveway adjacent to the Strauss Haus stretches a fairly long distance before you get from the road to the back gate. I backed from near the back gate toward the road yesterday morning, while taking care to be alert for on-coming car lights from either direction as I neared the roadway. It was my intent to back into the road in front of the Strauss Haus, straighten up the car and make my way to Houston. Gauging in my mind that I had backed far enough into the roadway, I put the car in drive and discovered immediately that I was stuck. How could that be? Opening the car door I could see that I had driven completely across the road and was stuck on the other side of the street across from the Strauss Haus.
Did I mention the railroad tracks are located just across the street from the Strauss Haus? Was I far enough away from the railroad track not to impede an on-coming train? It was pitch black outside. I couldn’t see anything. Was I far enough away from the track that I wouldn’t be in harm’s way? That was the $64,000.00 question. I didn’t know the answer.
Looking to my left, I saw lights coming my direction. Was it a train or was it a car coming down the road adjacent to the train track? That too, was a $64,000 question. Already, the tab was $128, 000 and I was a day late and a dollar short. I hurriedly jumped back in the car, held my mouth just right, breathed a prayer and put the pedal to the metal. Nothing! It was absolutely nothing but a waste of effort. I was going nowhere, unless of course the lights heading my direction were a train and the back of the car was too close to the tracks. In that event, my car could be scattered for blocks.
Panic! It was the fight or flight mode of my brain (or lack thereof) that was fully engaged. I thought momentarily about getting my luggage out of the car. I discounted that as being a bad idea. If not the luggage, how about my new computer? On the other hand, did I really want to go there? Once you start protectively taking out what you want to keep, where do you start and where do you stop?
I cautioned myself to stay calm. That was kind of like shutting the gate after you’ve let the horse out. How stupid could I have been? By the way, prayer doesn’t always work to eradicate stupid. Why hadn’t I looked where I was backing by monitoring the screen on my GPS system? Okay, I’m old school. It doesn’t feel natural to look forward while backing up. You have to turn your neck and look out of the back glass. If you are my age, you know what I’m talking about. You look back even if you can’t see where you’re backing just because you’re supposed to do it that way.
If the General is reading this, I can read her mind. I have it all wrong. “If you can’t see where you’re backing, you don’t back. Plan and simple – end of story”. It is easy for her to say. Fortunately, the on-coming lights were those of a vehicle and not an on-coming train. Otherwise, my car might have been knocked to Kalamazoo. Who knows, I might have been knocked with it. Fortunately, I was never actually even close to being in harms way, but in the midst of pitch-black darkness you can imagine any number of things. None of what I was thinking was good.
There is nothing like eating crow and admitting one’s stupidity to the world. I looked in the directory of my phone for contact information for Ryan Reichardt. How fortuitous for me that I knew he was the self-proclaimed alternative to a wrecker service in Cat Spring. As it turned out, Ryan was in my directory, but I only had his email address. I didn’t have time to wait for him to look at his email. I could see his home from were I was standing. Yet truthfully, a phone call would be better than a cold call by simply knocking on his door. And yes, for the record, it was cold outside.
Since I didn’t have the number, I telephoned my son. I knew he’d also be on his way to work. He said, he’d call Ryan. Instead he called his wife to call her brother. The next thing I knew, it was Becky to the rescue. She was driving Craig’s 4-wheel drive pick up, but she didn’t have anything to pull me with. She had called her brother, but gotten no answer. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had “Caller ID?”
As it turns out, I am indebted to both Becky and her brother. It was subsequently the two of them who saved the day. When Ryan arrived, I told him he was my hero. No wonder people call Ryan when they are stuck. He knows what to do and he has the stuff with which to do it. Besides that, he helped me create a memory I’ll never forget. For one thing, the possibility exists that he might occasionally remind me of it, but I doubt it. He is genuinely a nice guy. For another, it serves me well to remember his kindness. Where it not for him, I’d probably still be up to my hubcaps in mud.
All My Best!