Thursday, June 08, 2006

Blessed Art The Rons

Whenever I'm having a hard time with my fellow meatbags I like to remind myself of a time when a complete stranger saved me.

It was during the hurricane Rita evacuation down in Houston. Some of you may have seen the pictures from it, some of you haven't, but it's not an underestimation to say that the situation was both surreal and dire. It was the first time in American history (that I'm aware of) that both sides of a major four-lane highway were opened up to outbound traffic in order to expedite the evacuation of a city that has nearly two million residents.

Due to the fact that there had been no gas service for an entire week on account of all the damage that Katrina had caused most people were hitting the roads with half a tank or less. Also due to the panic that the hurricane was causing in light of what Katrina did to Nuevo Orleans many people were desperate to get out and so grabbed any vehicle they could find no matter how poor it's condition was. The result of these two factors meant that about a fourth of the vehicles on the road simply broke down or ran out of gas about a mile or two out of town, turning the already congested roads into a slalom course of derelict dodging. This was much harder than it sounds as the traffic was moving so slowly that you often didn't know the car in front of you had broken down for several hours as progress out of the city was measured in inches per hour.

As the road and the hours wore on the traffic was thinned some by the cars that could go no further. I was often reminded of the dinosaur scene in Fantasia where they're all making an exodus from the spreading dessert trying to find water and slowly dying off one by one until even the last stalwart survivors were only bleached bones in the scorching sand. It sounds overly dramatic, but the mind thinks odd thoughts when you've been in a car for an entire day.

On the second eve of our travel my roommate and I finally came to a rest stop and had nearly exhausted our supply of gas. It turns out that the golf coast produces gas for a large chunk of America, and no one had been able to ship or fly any new supplies in from elsewhere so there hadn't been any place to resupply the entire trip. The storm was due to hit any hour and we were stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a few willow trees to protect us from whatever the biopolar and chaotic maelstrom that passes for weather over the Atlantic had been cooking up. To say we felt scared and helpless would have been pretty dead-on. We noticed that there was an RV parked not too far away from us for the night and they had a large red plastic gas container. So I walked over there full of hope that I could convince this person to sell me some of their gas, a commodity that had gone beyond value due to the extreme rarity it had recently begun to enjoy. The man who's RV had the spare gas was a shorter grandfatherly type named Ron Tomlinson. Not only did he let us have the gas he refused to accept any sort of compensation for it. It was exactly half a tank's worth, which we were pretty certain would get us the rest of the way to San Antonio where a good friend of mine was waiting with extra beds and margaritas. We knew that Ron wouldn't accept any money, but we had no way to show him how much his simple act of kindness had done for us so we wrote our numbers on a piece of paper and told him that if he was ever in California or Oregon to call us and we'd be happy to put him up or buy him dinner as he'd been like an angel to us. We also folded about $80 into the slip of paper because we couldn't not give him anything, it just didn't feel right. Both myself and my roommate were moved nearly to tears that a complete stranger would insist on giving us his gas so that we could complete our trip. I'd run into a lot of extremely selfish people in Texas and I felt blindsided by this man's kindness. It was very humbling.

We completed our trip uneventfully. The roads after that last rest stop were clear of traffic as all of the cars that couldn't make it had been weeded out by that time. The drive from San Antonio to Houston takes about two hours on a good day. It took us twenty-seven hours to make the trip and that had to be one of the best and longest urinations I've ever had in my life when we finally got to my friend's house.

3 Comments:

Blogger Will said...

Aspen,

I'm curious about something... since you worked in a gay bar your opinion to me on this matter is quite valuable... What's with all this gay pride hubub? I almost feel like I am a bad fag cause I am not into any of that shit? Is there some kind of orientation meeting I missed out on where I was infused with all this "Pride"? Just curious about your thoughts on Pride.

9:29 AM, June 13, 2006  
Blogger Zeroes said...

I'm not a very big supporter of minority rights and identity in leu of personal and human rights and identity.

While I think that a well-developed sense of self is paramount to happiness and success, I also think that as long as we hold up our differences as virtues and focus on our minority status we will keep ourselves marginalized.

However, it would be pretty hard to have any kind of Self-Awareness Festival as we've all seen what happened with Woodstock. That place still reeks of patchouli, LSD, and an overly-developed sense of entitlement.

12:00 PM, June 14, 2006  
Blogger zortnac said...

Wow, I never knew you had an expirience like that. Talk about stuff that touches you forever, wow. Thanks for shaing it :)

1:18 PM, June 15, 2006  

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