HOW to be a HERO
I was in the midst of a nasty divorce. I had three children under the age of five, and a husband who wanted me – dead. My girlfriend flew in to Colorado to comfort me and we went on a few Thelma and Louise type journeys that proved to have – well, consequences.
On one such occasion we, I, decided to drive to Breckenridge, the back way, across the infamous – Kenosha Pass. We had the music blaring, the windows wide, and we were having a grand ole time and apparently I missed the scenic town of Alma. Well, I wasn’t exactly looking in the rear view mirror and so I was quite oblivious to the fact that I was being chased – by a cop.
According to the cop, it took me a full ten minutes to abide by the law. Sigh.
I didn’t have ‘proof’ of updated insurance, the license plate was registered in my husbands name still, my Drivers License had expired, and apparently I was called out for doing 65 in a 30 mile zone. Not good. He was royally pissed, and no matter how much my girlfriend and I batted our eyes, he was not a takin.
So I got this ticket that was a mile long for nothin’. At least that’s what I thought at the time. Times passes and I get a summons. I have to appear in Alma Court! It’s mid September, I put on my prettiest Mormon dress and open sandals, kiss the kids and the babysitter good-bye and drive to Alma. Creeping up Kenosha, it started to rain, DANG! Then it poured! More Dang. Then I crept across the top of the pass and the rain suddenly transported into globs of snow, I mean fistfulls that came down in balls like baseballs. It was big stuff!
It wasn’t long before the ‘sport wheels’ on my super Audi began to groan and complain. The windshield wipers stuck and I peered through a small hole that was left in the middle of the windshield – about two inches in diameter. There was upwards of two feet of swift fresh powder and I was sitting in my Audi, in my cotton chemise and open sandals, crying. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t even see the road at all. So I stopped where I was, and opened the door to brush off enough snow to see thru the dang windshield – when a truck blazed past me nearly taking my door and me into oblivion. NOT COOL.
Whimpering, but with no other choice, I drove as straight as I could, head pierced to the windshield, eyes bugged. Suddenly I saw the outline of a building to my right, and a pathway of sorts that could be a drive. As it turned out it was a Sheriffs Station and I thought I was in luck! Tripping inside, I cried and asked please, please drive me home! They looked at me like I was insane and told me the storm was a freak of nature and had stranded dozens of hunters, cattle and horses. That was their priority and I needed to go across the street to the cafe and wait it out.
How long? I asked.
Maybe four days.
NO WAY. I had three kids at home to take care of!
SO I’m sitting in this cafe blubbering to the guys spilling coffee over my plate and this old man sits down next to me at the bar after a few hours passed. Maybe four. It was a while. Anyway, he is listening to me blubber to the bad coffee pourer and offers to help me out. I’m in my thirties, he’s in his late sixties or there about.
I’m not having any other luck so I say – well, sure. So, he’s got some errands he has to tend to first. You see, the man owns a ranch, come to find later – a big ranch, and he’s got supplies and things he needs to buy at the local hardware store that he happens to own, cause of the storm. He’s driving a big boat caddie type car, enormous, heavy as all shitake. So anyway, I say sure, I mean, it’s not like I hold a hand in this – he’s helping me. So we do his stuff, and then we go back and he tells me to get in my car and he’ll follow me up Kenosha Pass.
Well my little sportie Audi was a bruiser, but not quite up to this task. Still, I had no choice. So I’m creeping up the pass, holding the wheel in a death grip, wishing I was in la-la land, and knowing that death is putting on the brake. There are semis’ jacknifed across the road. There are cars diving perilously into abyss. There is mayhem like a classic snow highway and this is shitake mushrooms! But I’ve got this guy tagging me, and he’s determined to help me out.
I’m creeping, I’m creeping and then suddenly a hard shift to the right and the car moves sideways. Spin. Spin. Spin. No go! Dang!
My hero man rancher gets out of his car and tries everything he knows to help, to make it work, to save me. But to no avail. And while we’re standing in the snow staring at my car, he’s scratching his head, and I’m thinking I am so in trouble, and then – out of nowhere – a sand truck appears and dumps a plot of sand directly in front of my wheels. Huh? True story. Poof, just like that. Sand!
I get in the car, and just that bit of traction was enough to get me moving. My hero jumps in his caddie behind me and follows. Slip sliding, I make it ever so slowly up the remaining part of Kenosha. And the second we begin the descent on the other side, all the snow is once again – rain. Just water. And we begin the descent. And it’s like nothing.
He followed me to his turnoff and made a left at Pine Bluff waving me on. I don’t know his name. But I know it was important. I found my way home having missed my court appearance, scared, shaken, and yet – saved. And I could see, in my minds eye, the smile that must have enshrouded his lips.
Later, as I thought about the journey, I realized it wasn’t about me at all, it was about giving the man the chance to be a HERO. The story wasn’t mine, I was simply a pawn, the story was about the man needing to have the breath of being a Hero. And it felt really good. Because – he truly was. It was like I was a gift, an object, but a gift. It had already been determined. It was something very valuable and important for him in that moment to know.
Epilog: I called the county to report that I had missed my court appearance and was directed to a free county attorney. We spoke – and when he asked what speed I thought I might have been doing – I lied – 40mph – maybe. I provided all my proofs, and $60 later the entire debt was relieved. But the man – my hero – that was – forever.