Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Me and Harper Lee


Muttering Mit

Yesterday was a good day. I was going to write about it. I may still, but not in this post. (or at least, not at length)

I will say this about Tuesday, I started out driving from Attalla, AL down to Prattville, AL – not a bad drive, about 135 miles. I left my customer’s office around 2:00 pm and checked in at the hotel around 4:00 pm. In the evening I drove into Montgomery to meet a friend for dinner. We sat out on the patio of this great Mexican food place (El Rey), until an unexpected cloud burst forced us inside. From Prattville to the restaurant was about 15 minutes or 13 miles.

Today, I woke up – dealt with some business issues and arrived at my customer’s office slightly after 9 am. We steamlined some business practices and I was back on the road, heading towards tonight’s destination, by 11:30 am. I was rather excited – thinking I’d make it here by 2 pm or so – and maybe, just MIGHT be able to take a nap this afternoon. BUT NO! WHO CARES ABOUT MY PLANS???

As I left the small town of Holtville, and headed back towards I-65 S, I caught the tail-end of a radio announcement about an 18-wheeler wreck that had shut down the interstate. I assumed (yes, yes, ass out of you AND ME) I was listening to a station in Birmingham, so I paid no attention. There was also a mileage sign in-front of me that said Selma, 48 miles west. Now I have some very good friends in Selma. I know they’d love to see me. But NO, I was being selfish – and didn’t want to drive out of my way – and I was thinking about that delicious nap, so I stopped back in Prattville and ate lunch.

Did I think about the wreck? Did I ask about the wreck? Did I have my map out? A-hem. Guess who got stuck in traffic – and it took TWO HOURS to circumvent the perimeter of Montgomery, Alabama because the wreck was NOT in Birmingham, but Montgomery? TWO HOURS – when last night it took 15 minutes to drive 13 miles. (the “detour” was about 30 miles)

Of course, that just cheered up my day. </sarcasm> And, I was totally kicking my own butt about not detouring to Selma. Because OBVIOUSLY it wouldn’t have made my trip any longer!

After I made it around Montgomery and got back on I-16 south, you can bet I was hell bent for leather. However the rest of the turtles – I mean “travelers” didn’t seem so intent on making up lost time. The red-head temper and led foot were in full operating force.

Eighty-five miles later, I turn off of I-65 and headed across to Harper Lee’s (To Kill a Mocking Bird) hometown. As I exited the freeway, there was a red Ford F-150 Fx4 in front of me. Now this truck wasn’t going slow, but it was doing the speed limit, which was unacceptable to me. I followed it for about 5 miles – until there was a chance to pass. Then I blew by – and continued on my merry way. Ten miles later I came to a small town with a slow speed limit. Because I know it’s wise to be a law-abiding citizen in these hamlets, I slowed down to the posted 35 mph. The red-truck caught up to me because a logging truck pulled in-front of me as the small town receded in my rearview mirror. It was going very, very, slow. First chance I had, I blew around him too, and lost the red truck. Or so I thought.

Another 3 miles down the road, here comes the red truck. Hauling ass. “Hmmm – that’s interesting. I wonder why he’s in such a hurry all the sudden?”

Next thing I new, he was right behind me. Now most of you know, I’ve been pulled over a few times. (okay, fine, I’ve been pulled over in almost every state that grows cotton. There are you happy?)

(So, moving right along)… I am slightly familiar with small town cops and Highway Patrol cars. However – I was slightly startled when this truck started wildly flashing his headlights at me and tail-gating me! “Crazy-asshole-macho-southern man”, I thought to myself, and continued to drive 75 miles an hour.

Next thing I know – the red-truck isn’t behind me. No, no, it’s BESIDE ME. And it’s NOT PASSING ME. My rule of thumb is if it doesn’t have sirens and flashing blue lights, you don’t make eye contact. So I stared straight ahead – assuming he was trying to pass me, and you know, show me how superior his truck was to my Toyota Corolla. But the truck stayed right beside me. Finally I glanced over.

Well, do you know how embarrassing it is to have a customer WAVING AT YOU – as you’re going down the road at 75 mph? He was laughing – and had this BIG ASS GRIN on his face. He motioned me to pull over. I felt I had no choice.

Stopping in the gravel parking lot for some country business, he jumped out of his truck and ambled back to my car.

“Hot-damn! I knew that was you! You weren’t kidding about having a led foot were you Mit?” he said all in one slow southern jumble of sounds.

I just stared at him. “Brawey”, I asked? (If you placed the guy from the paper towel commercial next to him, you’d think they were twins) He laughed and smiled at me.

“How did you know it was ME”, I quizzed in my dumbfounded state.

“Pretty easy darlin’. When you went zooming around me I thought, “Damn! That woman drives fast!” Then I noticed the flash of red-hair. “Just like Mit” I thought. The next thing hit me, was, you said, you was gonna be down here after the Tunica meeting. Once your car got around me, I noticed the out-of-state plates. “I bet that’s her”, I said to myself.

Pausing in his recitation he looked at me and hitched his thumb toward the back of the truck, “Wanna beer,” he asked?

“Hell ya!”, I said.

So we stood around the bed of the pickup truck and drank a cold beer – and talked about the crop – and the look on my face when he started flashing his headlights at me, and how I really do, DRIVE FAST, and how he’ll expect EXCELLENT, responsive, customer support from me this year, if I wanted to keep this little incident quiet.

I looked at him and shrugged. “I don’t care who you tell, I think it’s a great story, I might tell it myself”, I declared. He laughed and said, “Well honey, don’t forget, I KNOW how to get you on the phone! I’ll just claim you’re having my baby again. That worked right quick last time I needed you!” he said with a big shit eating grin.

And it’s true! You should have seen how panicked one of my co-workers was when he called in and said, “No ma’ma, I cannot hold. She’s havin’ my baby, and I have the right to talk to her now! You just tell her I’m waiting. She’ll take my call. Trust me!”

God I love my customers – and suddenly, today is a better day.

ps: 637 miles driven since Sunday.


I H8 24 said...

Can I just say next time that "She's my surrogate"?????

Anonymous said...

Coulda, Woulda, SHOULDA come to Selma, AL!!! We have the little lady that tells and writes Ghost Stories here! And I coulda shown you a short cut to the other town! Can't believe you were that close and didn't "drop in" to see us...