Tuesday, Nov. 24th, I woke up, knowing I had a full day ahead, but really, had no idea. After sub-teaching a class of sweet lil toddlers, I headed home to change & doll up for an interview…in downtown Austin.
I Googled directions to this location, wrote them down right, and proceeded on my way, asking my hubby to pray for me. Interviews can be nerve-racking for me. I go I-35 (1st mistake) and after 30 min.s, my gas light comes on. After 45 min.s & hitting traffic, I realize I may be late & I call to ask about parking (& to let them know I was almost there).
The General Manager who was about to interview me, answered, & told me there’d be plenty of parking & asked me where I was. When I replied, she compassionately told me Google gives the wrong directions & then she gave me the right ones…as I scrambled for a pen, paper & a spot I could squeeze between two vehicles at the on-ramp, while scribbling…yeah…on the phone. Wow, I could have so easily been in an accident at least twice.
18 minutes and a U-turn later, I pulled up on fumes and was greeted with a warm smile and a firm handshake, “…it was actually good timing! The other gal interviewing alongside you just finished observing a class! How about if you two fill out these applications, and we’ll just get started!”
The interview went really well (at least in my head!) considering how in my head, I kept freakin’ out about how the heck I was gonna get home with no gas, cash, debit card or clue where the nearest Chase Bank was.
So, after I was invited back for a 2nd interview (yeah!) I walked out & sought out any unsuspecting stranger (particularly a young male) so I could hit him up. And there he was, 20 ft. away, suckin’ on a Marlboro. I gave him the most honest gut-wrenching story I could get out along with a head-tilt and smile, a price I paid for just a smile in return, “I’m so sorry. I’m broke.” But he continued to look around and think aloud for some type of solution for me. I thanked him graciously and went on my way – to sit in the Scio XB, swallow another helping of pride & call my hubby…and cry. He gave me a simple answer, “You’re all dolled up, right? Use your good looks!” Hmmm. Thanks?
Three minutes later, as I tried to keep back the tears, I heard a faint knock on my window. With Ricky on hold, I rolled the window down and saw that same man, holding out a $5 & a $1 bill, “Hey, this is all I got. I saw you had an “XB”, so hopefully the gas mileage on that’ll get you back to Hutto”.
Wiping away any possible mascara smears, I hopped out, grabbed the cash, & actually hugged this tall strange figure. I didn’t even want to know how the funds appeared. I jus’ thanked him profusely and drove off…barely making it to the nearest gas station.
AND NOW… Pt.2 (feel free to go pop some corn & grab a soda…)
After scoring a quarter tank, I had to remember how to get home a new way, which of course, included two U-turns, driving backwards on the highway at one point, but eventually landing on Mopac, which came to a near-stop within minutes. I called my girlfriend to tell her all, & while conversing, turned the wrong direction on the next toll road 45, turned around to go the right way, & then realized too late that I missed my exit for Hutto. Almost.
I mean, I could still see it, but I’d have to drive through this valley with sparse long grass and a few tire tracks from the one paved road to the next – the exit I was supposed to be taking. I had HAD it with U-turns. I was risking it. So I eyeballed someone else’s tracks, and gunned it. Until I got to the middle, where, beneath the deceiving grass there lie 5 inches of sticky mud, awaiting my demise. I was STUCK. Wheels-spinning-stuck. “Oh, nooooooooooOOooooOOOOOOOO! NO! NO!”, I yelled at my girlfriend. Then rang my husband, a-gain.
He had a good family friend, Ben, come to my rescue (as Ricky was @ home w/the kids & no car). But before Ben could find me, a Texas Dept. of Transportation man spotted me & stopped. He just stood there, bothered, & said I’d better figure out how to get out or he’d call for a tow.
Ben was able to locate me in spite of my lousy directions, & after I pushed my petal to the metal back & forth 6 times, designing a make-shift mud track, he literally pushed me out of that ditch, single-handedly… in spite of the fact that it was a front wheel drive and the front wheels were shellacked with a layer of mud just thin enough to render any traction useless.
Yes, Mr. TDOT just stood on the pavement with his hands on his sides & watched, first telling me to stop revving so much or I’d wreck my trans, then yelling at me that I needed to gun it for a while whenever Ben had me drive forward, or I wouldn’t get out at all.
Well, it wasn’t long before all 4 tires reached the other side, & can I just say, I was elated & exhausted & emotionally overwhelmed. I started sobbing as I gave Ben a big ‘ol embrace. I think he let a tear or two out as well. He then told me that a parole car had come, which I thought he meant TDOT. No, he meant a parole car – the police…had pulled up behind Mr. TDOT. Thank GOD we had Deathtrap Valley between us. I had had enough of this day & I needed to get on my way. So on my way I went…looking in the rear view every 30 seconds or so, to find no one behind me. Not even Ben.
I stopped by the closest Starbucks & told the lady, “you would not believe the kind of day I’ve had”, then just sat w/my Tall Americano w/cream, for a bit. Sometimes he’s the best kind of company. My phone rang & it was Ben asking me if I was ok. Then he told me that he saw that cop turn around, pass him up, & put his lights on. “Girl, he was after you!!” he said in his Spanish accent. My eyes got as big as two coffeecup lids. “WHAT?!” then at a lower volume,”am I like, a fugitive?” He laughed. But seriously, even though I’d seen NO 5-0’s in pursuit of me, I thought, “what the heck have I done?”.
About then, the Starbucks lady came by offering me a free sample & saying she couldn’t help overhear how I might be in danger, “we would be glad to provide security to escort you to your car, if you need it”.
After the longest 8 minutes on the road EVER, I pulled up into my driveway to hug my loud & happy 7 & 3 yr old, & my quiet husband. As I bathed Angel, I kept picturing a police raid at my house, being taken away just before Thanksgiving, getting a mug shot & pushed into a tiny cold cell…all with smeared make up on my tired face.
And as I lay in bed (with a truly thankful heart), Ricky & I talked and realized together, that for everything that went wrong from 3:30 til 8:30pm, God had provided me a greater redemption.