When I started skidding on the ice on the middle of a busy highway, my choice immediately became clear: ram the expensive-looking SUV in front of me or swerve into the driveway of the nearest parking lot. I swerved, skidded some more, and plowed into the middle of the snow-filled lawn of an empty office building. "Shit, Damn," I whispered. Then, remembering I was on the phone, and that it was my poor mother listening on the other end, added, "Mom? You still there? I just ran off the road. I've got to go."
Soren sat calmly in the backseat, utterly unfazed by either the accident or his mother's vulgar language, and continued to lick the peanut butter and honey off his sandwich. Traffic continued to pass by on the highway, business as usual.
I hung up and tried desperately to maneuver out of the spot; I succeeded only in burning a lot of oil and digging myself much, much deeper into the snow bank. So I killed the engine, said a little prayer for help, and tried to think of someone to call. Abe was out of town. Daddy was at his job in the middle of the desert. I wondered if I should call the police. Or a tow truck. I tried phoning my brother-in-law: his work cell phone, his personal cell phone, and his home phone all yielded to voice mail. I turned the engine back on and spun my wheels some more.
And then, wonder of wonders, a white pickup truck pulled into the parking lot. Out stepped two long-haired twenty-something men with scruffy facial hair. I got out of my car and said hello.
"We were going to push you out," said the one with curly hair "But now we can see you're way too stuck for that."
"You've got to be pulled out," added the one with a beanie, "But we don't have a rope."
"I think Mark has a rope," said Curly.
"And he might be working today," said Beanie.
"Or maybe Carl. Seems like he had a rope."
The two made a couple of phone calls, conferred among themselves, then said to me, "We're going down to Auto to get a rope. We'll be right back."
So these two complete stranger drove to a nearby auto parts store, purchased a rope, drove back, and hauled me out of my predicament.
"Thank you so much," I said, leaning out my window as I prepared to drive away. "How much do I owe you?"
But Beanie, who was guiding Curly's driving, just looked disgusted and waved a hand at me.
"Thank you so much," I repeated. "I don't know what I would have done without you."
He nodded and I drove away. In the rearview mirror I could see him climbing back into the white pickup truck, an angel wearing a Marlboro jacket.