11 January, 2012

January Challenge - Day 11

I hope you're following along with TinaJeanKrista, and Kat. If anyone else wants to play, just let me know and I'll stick you on the 30 Day Challenge blog roll. :) My list (with links to each post so far) is here.

More pictures. Of me and friends.

Have I mentioned how much I really, truly hate having my pic taken? This is hard, but here goes. 

This first pic has a rather long story to go with it.

It's Michele and me in major east coast city (that I won't name publicly), sitting on a curb at the bottom of a freeway off-ramp that was littered with used condoms and broken glass, across from a boarded up apartment building, beside a car with bashed in windows, in a really bad part of town, when were were just about to be left there lost and alone to be raped or killed or who knows what, because we're terrified women from Iowa who seriously thought we were gonna die. Unless we received angelic intervention.

Yep. We're doomed, but we're trying to make the best of it.
We'd been picked up at the airport because I was a guest at a convention, one of my first. The person who picked us up, well, she didn't believe me when I told her her car was smoking as she drove down some freeway. She argued with both of us about it, even, said it was the guy ahead's exhaust (honey, growing up poor in rural Iowa, I know what a smoking car looks like) Finally, she could barely see the vehicle in front of us. So she pulled off, and stopped just past the bottom of the offramp in what has to be the scariest place I've ever been in my life.

Then she tells Michele and me to get out of the car. Now.

I think there were gunshots somewhere, far away but close enough to hear. Some guy that looked like a sterotypical drug dealer/gang member sauntered by and checked out the two pasty plump chicks in the smoking car and their crazy chauffeur.

Michele and I looked at each other, eyes wide, and said we'd rather stay in the car. 

The gang member waved and continued on.

Our escort cussed at us, popped her trunk, threw our stuff on the curb, and pretty much forced us out of her vehicle. Which had stopped smoking. So we huddled on the sidewalk, freeway behind us, scary stuff everywhere else, while she got back in her car and made a phone call. She apparently called her mechanic and requested a tow because she rolled down the window to tell us that everything was fine because they hadn't closed yet and would send someone to get her car.

What about us? we asked.

She shrugged and pretty much refused to talk to us, other than occasionally fretting about how she was going to pay for her car. That she'd just gotten fixed or paid for or something, because that's all that mattered. Her car.

She wouldn't even call someone at the convention to come get us. And the locals started to peer at us, interested. Two plump blonde mommies. Look like they've eaten a lot of corn. Should be tasty!

The tow truck finally arrived, and our protector hopped right in the tow truck without even looking at us - the not-really-famous writer who was supposed to talk at the convention tonight, and her Super Porter Extraordinaire. Michele and I had no idea where we were since the street signs had been stolen. There were no open businesses within sight, only derelict buildings as far as the eye could see, and what could be kindly described as clumps of  'rough looking individuals' who chuckled among themselves and eyed our luggage. And us.

We asked her again what were we supposed to do. There wasn't room for all of us in the tow truck, and she told us she had no idea, and didn't care because she had to get her car out of there. It was our problem. 

This was several years ago and I don't think Michele had her phone back then. I still don't have a cell phone so we were rightly and totally screwed. We pressed together and hoped our families would at least find out what happened to us.

Please note that none of the locals approached us at all because, frankly, if one would have come up and said, hey, I see you're in trouble here, I'll call you a cab, we would have hugged him and offered to cook supper. But, no, they just... waited.

As the tow truck guy strapped her car to the hoist, Michele and I dragged our stuff to the offramp and frantically tried to flag down cars. Some drivers barely glanced at us at all, most just sped right on through the stop sign because they, too, wanted to get the heck outta there before it got dark. 

Finally, while our benevolent guardian dickered over the cost of the tow and the local vultures moved in for the final assessment,  an off duty cab came down the off ramp and he probably messed himself when two terrified women leapt in front of his car, begging for help. He told us he'd just gotten off work, but once we explained our problem, sure, he'd take us wherever we needed to go. We all but threw ourselves into the cab and our hero/angel took us away from that mess.

En route to our hotel, we heard a few rather unsavory stories of rapes and murders in the neighborhood we'd nearly been abandoned in and, despite him saying there was no charge, I paid him double what we would have paid a cab from the airport. And I took a receipt and had the convention reimburse me.

That actually was an incredible convention, other than the 'getting to the convention' part, but it's the first, last, and only time Michele and I have allowed ourselves to be picked up by strangers at the airport. It's been cabs or hotel shuttles for us ever since.

My other picture is of me and Sammie when we met up in Las Vegas a couple of years ago.

She's really not that short.
I was just closer to the camera.

I've known Sam since fall of 2001 and she was one of the first to critique an opening chapter of Ghosts in the Online Writer's Workshop. We've been friends ever since despite her living in Australia and me in Iowa, and she has pre-edited every one of the Dubric books (Valley is dedicated to her). She's amazingly insightful and thorough, and makes sure my tenses never let their slips show, and ensures I don't wimp out and take the easy way. We finally met for the very first time in Vegas when she and her husband took a vacation. There was much squeeing and jumping around, and it's a wonder her husband didn't leave us to giggle and talk the whole time.

He was awesome too, btw. :)

Sammie gets a quilt from me almost every year, and we've sent I don't know how many care packages back and forth. No one gets to read my fiction before Sammie. I absolutely could not be a professional writer without her assistance and insight. 

And that has depleted my 'Tam with friends' picture options. Thank goodness there aren't any more on the list! 


Jean said...

Because it has a happy ending, this story is hilarious.

Having done protocol, I've picked a lot of strangers (but distinguished visitors for us -- like you were for the conference, or, should have been) up at the airport and brought them to their lodging. Thankfully, I never had that kind of experience, but I was fortunate enough to have a generally reliable vehicle.

Krista Heiser said...

Wow. I can't believe she didn't even offer to call a cab for you! That's just..wow.

Aw. The stellar Sammie! I've heard so much about her that it's nice to have a face to go with the name.