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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Freeway Blues

After the pointless whining of his last blog, the RRR must make amends. Friday the 13th was Mrs. RRR's birthday. We celebrated with a shopping trip to the Big City after she got off work. There were tasks to complete. I paid the ransom on my beloved Red Wing boots which were back from being rebuilt (well, at least the heels) at the factory. We went to a Golden Corral which has just been reopened under new management and had an all-you-can-eat steak dinner. Their new policy is to cook them extremely rare, then put them out on the steam table and the customer picks out the one(s) he wants and takes them to the chef who cooks them to order.
We then went to an office supply store and picked out Mrs. RRR and my Mother's Day and Father's Day gift to each other, a new manager chair for the computer in which I now sit. It has a back high enough to lean back and nap in and is covered with brown micro-suede. It looks great in the main room of the cabin with the fireplace, cherry bookshelves, and oak desks. And also the walnut end tables Great grandpa Ranger made for us in 1970 and 71 whilst I was in Vietnam. He and I found the tree and bought it and cut it down. A worthy blog all by itself.
Saturday we'd planned a road trip to meet with some friends in eastern Iowa and on I80, far from home, I turned on the radio and got nothing. The horn wouldn't honk. The turn signals wouldn't flash. Obviously the battery was dying in Mrs. RRR's little Metro. We pulled into a rest area. I went to the caretakers for assistance. They were both totally deaf and communicated only with notes and sign language of which I have very little. It was obvious they did not have jumper cables. Neither did the one person who would help us. I have never been so studiously ignored in my life. The friendly helper gave us a push and the little car fired right up so we headed home. The motor died again in ten minutes. We ended up stranded by the side of the freeway. When I was a child, anyone by the road with the hood up, especially during day light, was helped immediately. Cars passed us by the thousands and none stopped. None used their cell phone to call the Highway Patrol. Anyone with jumper cables willing to sit 15 minutes and charge our battery off their motor could have saved the day. I considered kneeling by the road as in prayer, but didn't. Eventually we walked to the next exit to use the phone.
Another lesson learned: people don't' offer rides to a man and woman walking with a dog, yet if we'd left him alone in the car, any of a hundred animal lovers would have stopped to break the glass and keep him from dying of heat exhaustion. I had forgotten my walking shoes and was wearing only moccasins. My heel pain returned. At last we were able to call the Patrol. They sent out a wrecker. We were advised the driver would not want our dog to ride so we had to walk back to the car. He didn't have jumper cables, or wouldn't use them. I had specified to the Highway Patrol we needed a jump. He winched the tiny red car onto the back of the huge flatbed and with Bay-To-Ven sitting proudly in the front seat drove to the nearest Sprawl Mart for $75 cash tucked into the trucker's pocket. No foolishness about receipts, insurance claims, etc.
At Sprawl Mart we bought a new battery, a cheap set of tools to install it and a set of jumper cables to keep in Mrs. RRR's Metro. And drove home without incident. Though the battery was way down, of course. This was all just in time to take a short nap, change into uniform and go be a cop at the sprint car races. We could have used a dozen officers and 4 showed up. Virgil, the ex-highway patrolman ran the pits by himself. Jeff patrolled one end of the grandstand and I the other and Lee, our boss, floated back and forth. Two serious accidents marred the evening, both requiring escorts of the ambulances off the grounds. Jeff had to leave at 10 and it was just Lee, I and a crowd of several thousand. And it was COLD. I could see my breath by 2130. By 0030 the races were over and the real police work began. We escorted the commission receipts to the office and stood by till they were inventoried and added to the gate receipts and took them to the bank. I won't give the details for reasons of security, but let me tell you, transporting large amounts of cash is taken MUCH more seriously than stopping teenagers from climbing the fence into the racetrack.
I was home and snuggled up to Mrs. RRR by 0130. Church Sunday morning with an excellent sermon by elder James and Sunday afternoon I girded up my loins and went to work on the Metro. I could see nothing wrong till I reached my arm deep into the bowels of the engine compartment and brushed a loose wire which caused a crackling “zap!”. I yanked my hand out much quicker than it had gone in. The post had broken off the alternator that the hot outlet wire to the battery fastens to. Mrs. RRR and I struggled for a couple hours trying to make it work and finally gave up in time to take it to O'Reilly's who looked up the past purchase on the computer, discovered it was life time guaranteed and handed us a new one.
We celebrated with a trip to the drive-in and got two huge pork fritter sandwiches and an ice cream cone for Mrs. RRR. No it didn't fit my low-carb diet. Yes, it was delicious.
And thus you're up to date till the “care conference” at the VA.


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