The Pickering Chronicles #14 – Apropos of Nothing

“I know I got angels watchin me from the other side”
– Kanye West

I need to tidy up and finish writing about my adventures in Africa, but that has been put back by the need to deal with some family things as well as a new project I’ve undertaken to write a series of newspaper articles about our experiences dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease. We hope to dispel some myths and identify some techniques that can help people deal with such an illness in the family.

But, in the meantime, I thought I’d share with you what happened to me this week.

I drove my wife downtown on Tuesday to the Dementia Day Care program at the Senior Center. The program runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday. It is meant to offer a chance for the dementia sufferer to enjoy some supervised socializing while offering the caregiver a few hours away from daily demands.

I ran a few errands, then headed east out of the city to a place where I can shoot. It was a nice sunny day. I took my brand new Marlin 1895 (chambered 45-70) and an SKS that had been hiding in the back of my safe. I shot the Marlin and was happy to see that I only needed a slight adjustment for windage to get point of impact where I wanted it. Then I spent some pleasant time plinking with the SKS.

Around noon I packed up to leave. I opened the trunk of my car, put my rifles and gear in it, and slammed the trunk lid down BANG!! about one-tenth of a second before I realized that my keys were on the floor of the trunk. The car was locked.

“Well,” I said to myself, “F&%^#@$!!!”

I had meant to say, “Fiddlesticks.”

I was 35 miles from my home, seven miles from the nearest town, at the dead end of Range Road 270 next to the irrigation reservoir. Nobody around but me. I had forgotten my phone at home. I had to pick up my wife at 2:30. The temperature was in the mid-80s and rising. I started walking.

I told myself that the town probably had no locksmith, but that I should keep hope. Worse case, I thought, was that I could hitch a ride back to the city and get the other car key, hitch back, and get to the Calgary Senior Center in time to pick up my wife (they do not allow their clients to make their way to or from the Center without escort).

At that point I realized that the key to my house was locked in the trunk of my car. “Well, S*&^%^$#%@,” I thought, and I wasn’t thinking, “fiddlesticks.”

On the plus side for comfort AND shade I was wearing my elephant hide hunting boots and a cowboy hat (not to mention shirt and pants). On the down side, Range Road 270 is straight as an arrow north/south, dirt and loose gravel, with no shade trees. It was noontime.

The Pickering Chronicles #14 - Apropos of Nothing 1
Range Road 270 near Township Road 232

A couple of cows looked at me suspiciously, but I saw no farmers or ranchers.

I crunched along clearing a couple miles, thinking my thoughts, when I looked up and saw a pickup truck coming towards me, dusting the road behind it. It was only when I tried to wave it down that I realized I was still wearing my bright orange hunting vest.

The truck slowed and the driver’s window came down. A chubby lady whose face was as wrinkled as a walnut shell looked out at me. “Can you tell me,” I asked, “is there a locksmith in town?”

“No, I’m sure not. There’s one in S——,” she said, naming another town about 15 miles away.

I explained my predicament. She looked me up and down and said, “It’s hot out there. You’d better come around and get in the cab.” So I did.

We discussed options and she got on her telephone to call our equivalent of AAA. She started out by telling the agent that she was trying to help out a stranger. She was told in no uncertain terms that such shenanigans fell outside their policies. She was not allowed to help. Her card was no good to help me.

She contacted a towing company from S——– that agreed to send someone in “an hour or two” that could unlock my car for C$113.50 plus tax. My heart sank. I was thinking, ‘AAAGGGHHHH’ but outside I pretended to be rich. “That’s o.k.,” I said, “No problem.”

With time to kill she drove us to the nearby town to get a coffee (and for me a cold drink). We went back out to the Range Road to wait for help and had time to talk. She refused to leave me by the side of the road to wait for help. She pointed to some trees in the distance. “See those?” she asked. “That’s where I grew up.”

I asked her, “If you grew up just over there you probably know the Bradfords, right? Their farm is just over the other way a few miles”

“Do you mean Gordon and Linda?”

“Yes,” I said. “Do you know of them?”

“How do you know them,” she asked me.

“They were the advisors to my son’s 4H Club a long time ago, and we’ve remained friends since. We just had lunch with them last Sunday.”

“What’s your son’s name?” she asked. I told her.

She wrinkled her forehead. “When was he in the Club,” she asked. “We’ve worked with that Club for a lot of years.” I told her it had been about 20 years ago. She thought for a moment and then asked me, “Was your son doing Small Engine Repair? And didn’t he do a poultry project?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s the guy.” She gave me a look and asked me to give her some time — she had some business to deal with.

She phoned again to the AAA equivalent, and took full charge of the conversation. She informed the poor lady who took the call that she had been a member over 30 years, was a Premier member, and wouldn’t stand for the company to deny service under the current circumstances. She went up a level or two in the management queue, and within 15 minutes there was a tow truck operator standing by to open my car door, the fee waived.

She was one forceful lady. I wouldn’t want to be her husband when the clothes washer went on the blink.

While the tow truck driver was doing his job, the lady told me, “We’ve been here since 1908. Gordon’s grandfather and my husband’s grandfather were brothers. Both our families homesteaded at the same time. That’s how I know them.”

She told me then that she wouldn’t have stopped for a stranger standing in the road, except that I “didn’t look like a drug dealer” with my hat and hunting vest. Worse, she described me to the AAA people as “an elderly gentleman” which really set me off. I didn’t say anything, but I was steaming:

I do NOT consider myself “elderly”

I am definitely not a “gentleman.”

But, to my good fortune, now I know what an angel looks like.

. . . TRP


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