Today’s boot camp prompt is:
A tire blows out as you’re in the car with someone on the verge of his/her own breakdown. Stuck in a small town, you’re about to do something you haven’t done in years.
“Just calm down.” I was saying. “It’ll work itself out.”
“No it won’t.” Tears were streaming down Luciana’s face. “I was just fired for being late too often. My boyfriend is the reason I was late and now he’s left me, rent is due in two weeks, I have barely enough money for food, let alone gas to drive around trying to find a job.” I felt bad for her, but she had honestly put herself in this situation.
“I still don’t understand how it was your boyfriend’s fault that you were always late.”
“I told you!” She said blowing her nose. “He wouldn’t let me get into the bathroom while he was getting ready so I’d have to wait until he got done and by then I’d be running behind.” She could have just woken up earlier, but I didn’t think saying that would help matters right now.
I was about to console her again when the car jerked to the side and a thumping noise sounded from toward the back. Lucy slowed the car down and pulled off to the side.
“Great now I have a flat.” She dropped her head against the steering wheel as her shoulders slumped forward. She was making it seem like this was the end of the world.
“Do you have a spare?” Her ponytail bobbed as she shrugged, then nodded. I got out of the car and looked around. There were cornfields on both sides of the road for as far as I could see. This actually was a bad time to get a flat tire. We hadn’t seen a car in a solid 20 minutes and I still saw none in sight.
I checked my cell and found next to no service. I tried to call my insurance company to see if they could send someone, but the signal was so bad that the agent couldn’t verify who I was or what I needed. I hung up after trying to explain it a fourth time. I looked up and down the road again, still no sign of a car.
I knocked on Lucy’s window. She rolled it down and stared at me with pink eyes.
“Do you have the same cell provider as me?”
“Mine fell in the toilet when I went into the bathroom to cry after they fired me and doesn’t work anymore. I haven’t had a chance to buy a new one.” She sighed. “Or the money.”
“You didn’t think it might be important to tell me that before the 17 hour trip back home?” Now I was pissed. Not only was she acting like a dramatic 15 year old instead of the 39 year old that she was, but she was now leaving out vital information. “Why in the hell wouldn’t you mention you don’t have a phone? I could have bought one of those pay as you go phones to make sure we have a backup.” She scowled at me.
“I’m sorry, I’ve just been a bit preoccupied with things I thought were more important than my cell phone.” She rolled the window back up and turned her head. She wasn’t even going to attempt to help me. I walked a bit back the way we had come hoping to get better signal. It got worse, dropping out completely. I walked back toward the car, passed it, and continued walking, hoping I would have better luck in that direction. None. I got back to the car and looked to see if enough time had gone by that another car would be coming. Again, no such luck.
I finally realized I was going to have to do something I hadn’t done since I was 16. It struck me like a smack in the face. That was over 20 years ago. I leaned against the back of the car and tried one more time to get with my insurance company’s roadside assistance. Again I had to hang up because we just couldn’t hear each other clear enough. I put my phone in my pocket, said a little prayer of thanks for sunshine and a cool breeze, then yelled for Lucy to pop the trunk.