From Berkeley to Portland: A pleasant misfortune
I have returned home and can testify competently (in the legal sense) that the drive from Portland to Berkeley, exceeding the speed limits only slightly and infrequently, and making five quick pee stops, takes just under 11 hours.
Oregon and northern California: so much beauty, so much human confusion.
On the way up, I was saved much time and trouble by some selfless, probably well raised, and definitely unspoiled young deplorables.
A few miles north of Medford, my German car's dashboard lit up, alerting to rapidly sinking back left tire air pressure. I expected to be stranded between exits on Interstate 5's narrow shoulder, but luckily, I made it to exit 40 with 16 pounds, down from 24 at onset of the alert. About a quarter-mile off the freeway, I reached a shabby gas station cum cheap eats, straight out of The Last Picture Show. There was nothing else nothing in sight.
I was struggling with the inadequate little German toolkit and the spare and my bad back when the two strapping young fellows happened by, each around about 6'2'' or 3'', in the range of 23–26. "Got a problem, sir?"
For about 15 minutes, they struggled with the tiny jack and the short, feckless lug nut wrench, squirming around on their backs in the dirt and the gravel and the grease. The too short wrench (no leverage) was insufficient for the overly tight lug nuts, even with two strong young men pulling like hell.
I thanked them profusely for their efforts and said I'd call roadside assistance and wait for help. But they weren't done.
"I've got a big wrench at home," one said, and ran off in the 98-degree heat. He returned in about ten minutes, sweating and out of breath, and, with both the young men pulling on the larger tool, the lug nuts gave. They put the spare on, carefully loaded the heavy tire into the trunk, and gave me perfect directions to a shop in Grants Pass, 20 miles up I-5, where the nail-imbedded tire could be repaired.
They had taken 45 minutes of their day and, when their deed was done, were covered with dirt and sweat and grime. I tried awkwardly to offer them something, quite a few Andrew Jacksons, but of course they refused, politely but firmly.
Just another day in flyover America, a small incident undermining Ilhan Omar's hateful, dead wrong view of the country that rescued her. It could have happened anywhere, some will say. But my suspicion is that such a happy chance event is more likely to occur in the countryside or small towns of America than just about anywhere else on Earth.
Ilhan Omar and her ilk would be well advised to remember that the flip side of the kindness these lads exhibited is bravery.
Photo credit: Chris Waits.