Saturday, July 12, 2008

The hole we fell into in Knoxville and the angels disguised as tattooed rednecks who got us out

How did we fall into that hole? I’d say it was a combination of the heat and our determination to get to Knoxville. Seriously, I never even saw the hole.

The plan was to get up early and drive during the cool morning hours to Knoxville, which I figured was about 4 ½ hours north. We had friends in Knoxville who were going to take care of us.

But I didn’t wake up until 7:30 and we didn’t get on the road until 8:30. From 8:30-9:30 it was still cool. This was a full sun day, no cloud cover at all, and things started heating up around 10. I found myself driving in the far right lane just to catch the shade still being cast by the roadway trees. By noon we couldn’t take it anymore. We had made it to Tennessee, though, and were somewhere north of Chattanooga. I saw a sign, “Blue Springs”, and that sounded cool.

Taking an unknown exit off an interstate is risky. You never know what you’ll find. I had seen a sign for a National Forest and a Red Clay Park, and thought that might a good place to hang out during the heat of the day. But the girl at the local Hardees said that they were far away and I would be better of just going to the playground of the Blue Spring School, which was just down the road.

I found the school and playground, which was deserted on this full sun-hot day. But there was a bench and a tree, and maybe a little breeze, so Jubilee and I began to hang out.

Shortly we noticed across the field a little cabin, and what looked to be a little creek. Two men were sitting in front of the cabin, whittling wooden sticks. Just out of boredom or something (the enticement of a cool water creek?), we walked over to investigate. The older man was somewhat friendly, but the younger one just glared at me. (He kept trying to look me in the eye, but I wouldn’t look back at him.) Then I noticed the name “Coon Club” on the front of the cabin, and realized that I was trespassing on some kind of men’s only club. (But what kind of men’s club would be that close to a school?)

Anyway, by the time we got back to our schoolyard bench it seemed that the breeze under the tree was not much better than the air blowing through the car, so Jubilee and I set out for the highway again. We were only about 60 miles or so south of Knoxville, and that was as far as we had to go. Surely we could make it.

We were doing OK. Hot, but ok. Carolyn knew we were coming, I had my directions for how to get to their house. Don’t ever trust the directions from Google Map. Repeatedly I have run into conflicting directions where I have to make a choice. Like, “take I640 West, toward Lexington” … but when I get to the place, 640West goes one way, and “toward Lexington” goes the other.

I knew I had made a wrong turn and took the first exit so that I could call Carolyn and get some directions. I needed some shade. I was in an industrial area and saw an abandoned car wash. The perfect place to make my call. I never even saw the hole. I only saw the shade.

I knew the car was stuck, so I got out and called Carolyn. She called her husband Hal. Said that Hal had a truck and could get some friends and come over later to get the car, but in the meantime she would come and pick me up. I was at the corner of Rudy and Haskill.

And then a very interesting thing happened.

There was a big black man across the street. He came over and said “I knew somebody was going to do that – I just been waiting for it to happen!” I told him that I had friends who were coming to help me. He said, don’t worry about your car, I’ll keep an eye on it.

Then the first guy with tattoos came by and got out and he and the black guy looked and the situation and said that they could probably get a board and get the car out. So they start working on it.

Hal shows up on his motorcycle about then, so now I have 3 men working on the problem.

And then, out of nowhere, a pickup truck with 2 tattooed rednecks shows up, the rednecks hop out, put a strap around the back of my car, and just pull it out. All in about 2 minutes. And then they were gone. I didn’t even have time to say thank you.

Within 10 minutes of my falling into that hole, I was out and on my way. I couldn’t believe it.

I will never, ever bad mouth rednecks in pickups again.

From there, I followed Hal on his motorcycle to his lovely air-conditioned home.

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