I live on a remote road, it might be hours before another car comes by. So when I saw a Jeep Cherokee with the hood up and lights flashing, I pulled into the turnout to see if they needed a lift.
A guy in his fifties, scruffy and grinning came to the passenger side. I can’t roll the windows down so I leaned over and opened the door. “Need a jump or a lift?”
“Aw! You’re a sight for sore eyes!” He leaned in. “A girl in a Jeep! Now that’s somethin’.”
Not really, but okay.
“You okay out here?”
He nodded and introduced himself. Then said, “I’m fine, it’s my fault. I fix Jeeps and I thought I had this cable done, but I just need a few more minutes. Say, Are you single?”
I blinked, and stammered, mind summersaulting at the odd shift. “Uhm, yep. Intentionally so. ”
“A single girl driving a wrangler,” he said. “Man, if I were twenty years younger…”
“Well, I should be going if you don’t need help.”
“Can I just warm my hands here on the heater for a second? Then I can fix that cable.”
I deeply regretted pulling over. Fucking Alaskan manners.
“I work on Jeeps so if your rig ever needs anything, swing by my shop at the bend. I have the big blue shop.”
“Right,” I forced a smile. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” I cranked the heater and he put his hands on the vent and sighed.
“Thanks for stopping. So, if you could have anything you wanted, what would if be? If I were a lucky genie and could grant a wish? What would you wish for?”
Right now? To be on my way.
Instead I said, “World peace.”
He frowned and guffawed, “What kind of a lame wish is that? World peace? I said you could have anything.”
My patience was worn through and I snipped. “Look, strange man I don’t know. You don’t get to ask what I want then belittle my wish. I have everything I want. What I don’t have is some world peace and that’s eating at my calm right at the moment. If you meant, ask for something you can actually give… that would have been a different question, right? So, I asked for world peace.”
He blinked and grinned, “You’re right. I did.” Then he whistled and said, “A single girl in a Jeep who says what she thinks. Man… if I were twenty years younger…” He smiled. “Thanks for stopping. You know, most folks wouldn’t have. Lots of weirdos out there.”
I looked pointedly at him. “Yep. There sure are.”
He chuckled, and added. “Stop by my shop if you need anything for your rig sometime. Have a good night, single lady in the red Jeep.”
“You, too. Good luck on your cable.”
I drove away wondering what kind of fool I was to stop for a stranger. It’s country life out here, not dissimilar to where I grew up. If someone is on the side of the road, you stop to help, that’s just how it is. I realize he was trying to make conversation and be friendly while his hands warmed up, but still. My irritation at the questions was more than it needed to be. I didn’t plan to offer a jump or a lift and have the first question be about my relationship status, so right off the bat I was edgy and sharp. (No, I hadn’t launched my profile page yet.)
But he says he’s a local. (everyone on this long remote road knows each other, so I’ll ask around if he’s legit or not.) No point in being bitchy and on edge with the folks who share this stretch of nowhere. Part of community is making friends. Then the next time he won’t be a stranger on the road. He’s a harmless flirt, obviously. But I can at least work at being friendlier.
Well, if he checks out, my rig does need a u-joint checkup and new front suspension… I suppose I could swing by the b
ig blue shop at the bend and see what he charges.
Oye, this country living is hard to get used to again after a decade in the city life. Like rusty gears trying to learn to turn again.