Solo adventure – this time in Texas

After my ‘Fear and loathing’ post of two years ago ( when I (unwittingly) met with prostitutes and a small police squad in an Orlando hotel, I found myself alone again, this time in the middle of nowhere about an hour south west of Austin, Texas, with a blown out tyre.
(note to self – disable the ‘shortest’ route function on the Sat-Nav when in foreign countries, even if they are English speaking).
This was again day one on my own (John having left after we completed our flying hours) and it looks like I am jinxed.
At first I thought it was good fortune that I broke down near a small post office on a country road near a small community. I walked to the nearest house (marked ‘private property’), knocked on the door and regretted it almost immediately when I saw the inside of the large room. It was very dark inside with a pool table and one whole wall about 15ft high and 30ft wide taken up by a makeshift white screen.
I asked the woman (who was still talking on her new sparkly mobile phone) if I could make a free-phone call from her landline (ironically my mobile was flat for the first time in years). A young kid said to her in a whisper “mom, no long distance calls”.
Before I’d had chance to say anything else she announced that her neighbour was on his way to help.
When a car approached with flashing headlights and the horn sounding I saw two men who slighlty worried me. Images from various films flashed through my mind as I realised I was in the middle of nowhere with a car containing all my possessions.
The first man announced himself as a Vietnam veteran (to which my nervous response was an emphatic – ‘excellent’; not quite what I meant to say). He said that they would need to go get a better jack. The second man appeared to be his assistant. As they drove off the big guy informed me that I would have to agree to pay ‘ten bucks’ for the help (I was already thinking of giving them $20 anyway). Whilst they were gone I got out the $10 from the car, hid as much as I could and locked the car.
The assistant changed the wheel and the ‘vet’ insisted on me getting a pen and paper to make out a receipt, stating that I should try to get my money back from the rental car company. I tried to brush it off explaining that I wouldn’t get it back but he insisted, informing me that I wouldn’t want to be ripped off. I reluctantly opened up the car and scrambled around for a pen and paper whilst maintaining backward glances.
At 94 degrees in the Texan sun with the car having been turned off for twently minutes I was slowly baking and the sweat was literally pouring down my face.
By the time I handed over the pen and paper I must have looked like a wreck.
I was invited to go and see his collection of five old Corvettes by the ‘vet’ (the vet with the ‘vettes), but I said that I’d call back sometime.
Despite the fact that I had feared the worse, they let me go on my way.
Thanks Rick and ‘J.W.’ (pronounced ‘Jay-Dubbya’). I get to tell another tale…

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