“I’m not a child molester, “ the man was insisting, ”even though I’ve been accused of being one.”
Isn’t that reassuring? And isn’t that what everyone wants to hear?
Let me back up.
On Sunday afternoon, my partner and I had finished up our Disaster Services volunteer work with the American Red Cross in Harveyville, KS, and it was time to head back home to Kansas City. We were looking at an almost two-hour drive, and our ERV was low on gas.
Our ERV drinks diesel, and we were in a very remote area of north-central Kansas – so it was a high priority to find a gas station that could accommodate us, and soon. Neither one of us wanted to be stranded on a deserted Kansas highway with no gas.
We eventually rolled into Osage City, Kansas, a little town with a short and sweet Main Street, and spotted a BP station, with a posted price for diesel. We were in luck – our ERV would not run dry. Yay!
I pulled the ERV up to the green-handled pump, while Lu got out to begin the process of filling the tank.
As she put the green-handled pump into the nozzle, and then began walking inside to the station to pay, I was fiddling with our GPS – hoping to load better coordinates so we could get home even faster than planned.
And this is when the fun began.
As Lu was walking towards the station’s entrance, a man in a truck hollers to her, “Hey! Are you with the Red Cross?” (Lu recounted this conversation to me later, so I’m posting it based on what she said. I was too far away to hear any of this.)
“Yes,” she answered.
To her surprise, the man began a long tirade of how he can’t stand the Red Cross and their volunteers…while Lu was standing there, dumbfounded. He went on for a full five minutes, listing every transgression (in his mind) that the ARC has committed over the years.
“How do you respond to someone like that?” she asked me, later. She said she just nodded politely, and let the guy spout off…why try to argue with someone who’s got his mind made up?
While she was getting chewed out in the parking lot, another man walked up to my open driver’s window, and thus began my own interesting conversation.
“Hey! Are you with the Red Cross?” he asked…as I’m sitting in a giant Red Cross truck, wearing a bright crimson-red Red Cross vest.
“Yes, I am,” I replied.
He then asked where I was going – or where I’d been, and I told him a bit about Harveyville.
He says, “Wow. I’ve never been there – but I know where it is.”
And as I was nodding, it was then that he dropped his bombshell on me.
“I’m not a child molester, “ he says, in the next breath, ”even though I’ve been accused of being one.”
The sound of crickets could now be heard, as I was digesting this bit of news.
“Oh.” I finally managed to squeak out. That was my brilliant, witty response.
“Yeah,” he said, “My girlfriend’s sister keeps telling her that I’m a molester, but I swear, I’m NOT a pervert! I babysit my grandkids all the time!”
He’s leaning in my open driver’s window, and I’m pulling back a bit, frantically looking for Lu with a silent plea of, “Hurry up! I want to get out of here!” He’s so close, that I can see the faint dribble of tobacco juice down his chin.
Lu’s still in the parking lot, with Mr. Irate Guy, in her own little bit of shock.
I start looking around to see if there are "Punk'd" cameras nearby.
He then continues, “I’m not normally dressed like this. But I’m heading to my daughter’s house, and she’ll probably want me to do some work, so I put on my grubby clothes. I normally look nicer.” Yes...he was pretty grubby, all right, but at least we now had an explanation for it.
My response? “Oh. Okay.”
(Yes, I’m just the sparkling conversationalist, aren’t I?!)
About that time, Lu was coming back to the truck, so we finished up our business, and quickly sped off down the highway. Thinking that disaster was now far behind us, little did we know what loomed ahead.
We were both telling our unbelievable conversations to each other, when suddenly, the ERV just…quit. One minute, I’m cruising along at 70 mph, and the next, it just dropped in speed and rolled to a stop. Like air coming out of a balloon, the acceleration just…disappeared.
I floored the gas pedal, and I got the ERV up to a blazing fast speed of…10 mph.
What the heck??! I managed to pull over on the shoulder, flip on the hazards, and assess the situation.
“Um, Lu…” I said…”I’m thinking we must have got bad gas back there...or else something’s wrong with the fuel line.” (Hey – I don’t claim to be an auto mechanic.)
Well…after calling for a tow truck driver, and calling the BP gas station that we had just left (what a great thing Google is on a cell phone!), we learned the hard way that the green-handled pump at a BP is NOT diesel. Oy vey.
Our poor ERV drank the wrong gasoline. And she was NOT happy about it.
We sat for a few hours, on a deserted stretch of highway in the middle of the Kansas boonies, with nothing but soybean fields and an occasional passing car for company. The good news was that we had an entire case of bottled water in the back of the ERV; the bad news was that there wasn’t a tree or even a bush for miles around, so that water was our worst enemy. We avoided it like the plague.
It kinda' looked like this...but with no mountains...cuz' we were in Kansas.
Eventually, we were rescued, and managed to get transportation back to KC, as our poor ERV headed to the dealership to get its stomach pumped.
I’d like to blame our mistake on our Close Encounters of the Pissed & Perverted, but unfortunately, we had already began pumping the wrong fuel when this all unfolded.
So – it’s our own stupidity.
Just another adventure on this road called, “Life.”