duck-shaped pain


Where I Wait For Many Hours

I rarely recount, let alone remember, my dreams. Mine just aren’t that interesting or coherent – some people I know have nice, neat dreams with a definite narrative structure and meaning. I wish I did. The few things I remember are fragments – there’s the dream I had once where I was at a celebrity roast for Hank Williams Jr., and another where everything seemed to be normal, but different from reality in that everyone communicated by singing “Ironman” to each other.

Anyway, I had a dream last night about this guy I met once. We met under the least favorable of circumstances, but I still remember him.

It was October of 1997. I was driving from my hometown back to Denver, where I lived at the time. I had just made it over the summit of Vail Pass, when all of a sudden, my car’s engine light comes on and the car just suddenly stopped working. I was able to guide it to a stop on the side of the interstate, where, after many tries and much swearing, it would not start again.

Now, there’s never a good place for this to happen, unless it’s in your own driveway or right in front of a repair shop, but I was at least in possession of some luck – I was less than a mile from the next town, Copper Mountain. So I secured everything safely and walked into town.

Ski towns in October are desolate places. The summer tourist season has ended, and ski season doesn’t start for another month, so most towns at this time of year sort of close down and take some time off. As a result, there was only one gas station open in town.

I went in, explained my plight, and a guy with a tow truck went back to my car with me. He fiddled with some wires, frowned a whole lot and finally informed me that my timing belt was broken. The car would have to be towed to a repair shop, the closest one being in Denver, of course. He brought the car back to the station, and I started trying to find someone who could tow it to Denver. It took awhile, but I finally found someone who agreed to do it, but they couldn’t do so until the next morning. My next problem was what to do with myself.

Because it was the off-season, there was no motel in town to stay at. So I called around to see if anyone could come get me. I called everyone I knew in Denver who had a car – the number of which was so astonishingly low that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I called my friend Z. in Boulder, but he was not near his phone. Finally, I gave up and called my folks. My dad agreed to come get me and drive me to Denver – a three- to four-hour drive at least.

Did I mention it was snowing? Did I mention that I was now missing one of my midterms, the reason I had been heading back to Denver at that particular time? Did I also mention that I had been making these phone calls from a tiny, frozen phone booth, because the asshole employee at the gas station wouldn’t let me use one of their phones?

The only thing left to do was wait. I trudged back through the snow to the station, to get something warm to drink while I waited. When I got there, Asshole Employee was gone, and in his place was this tall, soft-spoken guy from New Zealand. He was up there to work at one of the ski resorts for the winter, and was working in this gas station to wile away the weeks until opening day.

“You know,” he said, “you could just wait in here.” (I had been planning to wait outside in the snow) “Here, let me open up the office so you can wait in there. It’s more comfortable. Oh yeah – help yourself to anything you want to eat. It’s on the house.”

I was grateful, although they didn’t have much to eat – Little Debbie treats, beer nuts, and burnt coffee. I settled down in the office, drew a bit, read a bit.

While I was there, other people came in in need of assistance. Two people had flats, both of which he fixed, gratis. Someone needed a jump start – this guy went out in the snow and got their car started. In total, he helped six people, gave away 10 Little Debbie treats (only two of which were to me), and let 5 people use the phone. He was a nice guy, and I appreciated him letting me wait in the gas station.

Finally, my dad showed up, I got back to Denver, my car got fixed and I made up my midterm. The end.

You'd think that after that story, I would have some sort of noble dream about this guy. Nope -- I dreamt that he got eaten by a giant hot dog. Don't know what that means.

Spent the afternoon keeping my mom’s new puppy amused. She came to town today, and brought him with her. I agreed to watch him while she ran some errands.

He’s a month-old border collie/blue heeler mix, black and white with little spots on his legs. You can just imagine how cute is and guess what? You’d be right! He doesn’t have an official name yet (I suggested Hank), but he’s full of wiggle. My mom didn’t intend to get a dog, but it just happened. She saw him looking at her pitifully, and couldn’t resist. Every dog I've ever had has been aquired like this. They weren't planned -- they're all the result of weak-kneed moments of intense cuteness.

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