Monday, December 8, 2008


I’m taking inspiration from Wade’s short stories, which I love to read. Although I’ve never been very good at the “short” story. So I’m basing my format off of This American Life which is by far my favorite thing to listen to on the radio. Each week they pick a theme and then present three acts on that theme. Think of each act as a chapter you can stop at in case you get bored. I'm sure most of my installments will be stories the majority of you have heard before, I like to tell my stories. I’m thinking of this more as my online diary documentation of them.

Here it goes,

Ramblings Installment 1:

Charity Chauffeur

This week’s theme is based off of my last post. Another instance that I feel I am a charity target is the “ride” somewhere.

Act 1:

It’s 1997. I’ve been living on my own in Ogden for about six months going to Weber State. I stop at my bank just off campus in my newly acquired purple VW Bug. (Thanks dad!) As I’m getting money out of the walk-up ATM four teenagers all with skateboards come walking up to me. Not exactly the place you want groups of people approaching you, but they didn’t put off any scary vibes. They just came right out with their request and asked if I could give them a ride home. As someone with some social anxieties, I have no idea how someone could just walk up to a stranger and ask them for a ride. I think I tried to come up with some excuse and the kids could sense that and started into their pleading. I don’t really remember how the exchange went, but soon enough they were all piling into my car, skateboards in hand. I ended up driving them about two miles till we arrived at the entrance of a very high-end gated community. I couldn’t enter, so I left them at the gate. They all piled out gave a sort of half-hearted thanks and rode off on their skateboards.

The first thing that entered my mind was that if all these kids live in this upscale community, I’m pretty sure they could have found one of their parents that could have given them a ride. Maybe it’s a stereotype but I figured most of them probably had stay at home moms. Of course those were the days before cell phones, and maybe none of them had a quarter to spare. So not really anything exciting with the experience I just thought it was sort of weird that they just came and asked me for a ride. Maybe because it was such an uneventful ride, it set me up to be more vulnerable in the future.

Act II:

Jump ahead to sometime between 2001-2003, don’t really remember exactly. Pat and I have moved to Payson because of a new job he got in Provo. I’m working at my current job and while on my way home noticed that one of my tires was a little flat. I know that Chevron’s have free air, so I pull in. As I’m filling my tires a guy probably in his 40’s approaches me from the payphone. He has a thick Middle Eastern accent so I assume right away that he is not from around here. He asks me if I know how he can catch a cab, definitely not from around here. I tell him that you can’t just catch a cab you actually have to call and make a reservation. He tells me that he called a company in the phone book but they said they wouldn’t take him as far as where he needs to go. He asks if there is any chance that I am going south and could give him and his brother a ride. Again, I lack the ability to lie so I tell them I am going south and ask where they are going. He tells me that they need to pick up their car that was just fixed and it is in Payson. Damnit! I tell him that I am going to Payson and will give them a ride. Oh, yeah, well they have a rental car and they need to return it before 6 p.m. so can I follow them in the rental, let them drop it off, and then take them to Payson? Sure, what the hell. Of course the rental place ends up being in North Orem, so let’s just add to the wonderful time we are going to spend together.

I follow them to the rental place and then they tell me that they have a few things they need to put in my trunk. I’m not exactly sure what the deal is with me and the trunk, other than I just seem to feel the need to hang onto all the crap in my life, but if something gets put in the trunk, it ends up staying there for a very, very long time. And it just so happens that on that day I am taking home a mannequin torso that my little sister Keeley let me borrow to display some new soccer uniforms at work. Why my sister has a mannequin torso is another story, unless you know Keeley. So I have even less room in my car than usual. It ends up that they have about 100 cell phone boxes along with all sorts of accessories for about that many phones. We put as much stuff as we can in the trunk, not much, try shoving stuff around the mannequin, but the one brother sitting in the back seat ended up holding piles of cell phone boxes that covered almost his entire body. I don’t think he said a word the entire trip. I’m not sure if it was because he was shy, didn’t speak English, or just couldn’t breathe. The brother sitting up front with me had no problems talking.

He did first say that I needed to call someone and let them know that I was giving someone a ride and that I would be late so that they wouldn’t worry. He then asked about the Evil Eye I had hanging from my rear-view mirror. I told them that my father-in-law had brought it back from Turkey where he was stationed in the Air Force. I started to tell them the significance of the Evil Eye when he went off on a tale about it. He proceeded to tell me that he was from Bulgaria and why Bulgarians hate Turkey and what an evil place it is along with anyone from there. He also told me how he and his brother had come to America to try and make some money for their families. They were on a road trip from California selling cell phone supplies to different businesses when their car broke down in Payson. He started asking me about all different kinds of cell phone accessories and if I owned them. I assumed that he was going to try and sell me something so I kept telling him I already had one of those. I later found out he just wanted to give me something for the ride.

When we finally reached their car in Payson the guy offered me $40. After hearing the story about trying to make a living to send back to his family I felt too guilty to take any money. I told him that I was fine and had been going that way anyways. He asked if I like sunflower seeds. I thought that was weird but told him that my husband loved sunflower seeds. He proceeded to open the trunk of his car and pulled out an entire grocery bag full of unsalted sunflower seeds and handed the bag over. Not exactly what I had in mind, but if it made him feel like he paid me back, I’ll take it. He then pulled out another grocery bag full of homemade trail mix. Ok, not sure what I’m going to do with this, but alright. I felt bad because it seemed like they gave me their entire trips worth of road snacks, but I could tell the guy felt better about leaving me with something. I helped unbury the brother from the backseat and load up their cell phone haul and off they went.

Act III:

Jump back to early 1999. Not sure how Act II even happened after experiencing this next chapter. And if this instance didn’t stop me from giving random strangers rides against my better judgment, I don’t know if anything will. It was the first year Pat and I were married and we were living in Roy. I was the department manager of fabrics at Walmart in Riverdale, exciting I know. It was our yearly inventory which meant a 20 hour day at work the night before followed by three hours to go home, and then back at work at 6 a.m.

I go out to my car to find that a horrible ice storm had hit. There was about a ½ inch of ice plastered to my car. After about ½ hour of the defrost and chipping away at the ice I was able to see out of enough patches to feel that I could make it home. It’s 3:00 a.m. and luckily the roads are empty. The sheets of ice covering everything would have been bad enough, except now there is a wind that is blowing up snow and blowing it horizontally across the road making it almost impossible to drive. About half way home I notice a car pulled over to the side of the road with it’s flashers on. About a block ahead I notice someone walking along the road. There is a gas station about another block ahead and I figure the person broke down and was walking to the gas station. I figure that I might as well offer the person a ride assuming it will be a very short one, but no one should have been out walking in that weather.

Before I can even start to pull over to see if the person wants a ride, the lady walks out into the middle of the road flailing her arms to make sure I stop. I feel a little safer when I realize it’s a woman. I pull up next to her, unroll my window and ask if I can help. She asks for a ride and I tell her to get in. I start driving towards the gas station assuming that is where she is going and then the whiff of alcohol drifts over. I don’t think I had ever smelled someone that had reeked that bad, at least not since the bums that hung around the bar outside the reservation in Nevada. She tells me that she is lost.

It ends up that was not her car a ways back. Her friend had dropped her off at the gas station because they got in a fight and now she couldn’t figure out how to get home. I asked where she lived and she told me she didn’t know but she knew it was a trailer park. There is only one trailer park in the area so I figured I knew where she was talking about. I described it a little and she said that yes that was where she lived. I drove the very slow drive back the other direction and to the other side of town. I was trying to breath through my mouth because I could not handle the smell. The lady alternated between crying and yelling about this fight she and her friend had and how upset she was that they left her at the gas station. We finally made it to the trailer park and drove slowly around until she found a trailer that she said looked familiar.

As soon as she got out I had the very strong desire to drive off as fast as I could, but I waited to see if she was able to get inside. She came back to the car and said that it was locked and she couldn't find her key. Again I felt the need to just drive off and forget about her, but I couldn’t. She asked if I could help open a window in the back so she could climb in that way. Holy Crap NO I did not want to help her! But instead of saying that, I found myself trudging through the drifting snow to the back of the trailer.

I help her take a screen off and then tried sliding open the window. I told her that it felt like there was something blocking the window. She said that she forgot there was a large dresser blocking the window. I figured that was a result of the alcohol and asked if there was someone I could go call for her. She said no, but that if I could help her move this ladder to the front of the trailer she might be able to get in the kitchen window. Again, I resisted the urge to run to my warm car and leave her to fend for herself and picked up an end of the ladder and helped her around to the front. When I saw the window she was going to try I knew immediately that this was not going to work. First it was high, second it was small, third it had metal louvers on it.

Not knowing what else to do, I held the bottom of the ladder while she climbed up. She tried adjusting the louvers to try and open the window inside. It was pretty easy to tell that only a small child would have fit though them, but I let her try. The next thing I know I hear breaking glass and the metal louvers bend in half from her weight. Great. The lady climbs down and starts getting hysterical about how Susie is going to kill her. She couldn’t believe that she broke Susie’s window, and now she was going to kill her. Who’s window? Wait, this isn’t your house! I just helped some crazy lady try to break into someone else’s house! And this is the girl that can’t go in the exit doors at Walmart and now I'm an accomplice to a crime! I’m holding the ladder for someone who just broke Susie’s window.

I try to plead with the lady to just let me take her to the police station, they will be able to help find her friends and give her a warm place to stay. She is very adamant about not going to the police. She says she will just wait on the porch till her friends get home. Not knowing what else I can do I finally go to leave. I get in my car but know that if I leave this lady here she is going to freeze to death. I start looking around in the car for something to give her and find a blanket I keep in the trunk for emergencies. I go back to the lady sitting on the porch, give her my blanket and gloves. I drive off feeling a mix of emotions. Guilt for feeling like I wish I could have done more, Fear that she is going to die waiting on that porch, Guilt for being a conspirator to home robbery, Regret for just not being able to drive past her or say no. I get home and call the police. I tell them that I had given a drunk lady a ride to a trailer home, I couldn’t remember the number, but that she was locked out and I was afraid she was going to freeze to death. I figured the whole attempted breaking and entering details could be sorted out later.

To this day when ever there is a bad winter storm I think about that lady. I wonder what happened to her. And as much as she is the reason I wish I could say no to people, she is also the reason I don’t say no.


Wade The Rascal said...

Wow! Your short stories are AWESOME!!! I loved reading them just now. You have an obvious talent for writing; and for remembering details. The other thing I got out of reading this: Kari has loads and loads of good karma awaiting her. Would be nice to have all that good luck banked somewhere.

Megan said...

How are you not dead? Seriously, I'd be way too scared to give anyone a ride, especially two guys!! Great stories :)

Kristen said...

Love your stories, Kari. You definitely have a talent. Keep them coming!

Susie said... can write, girl. I had no idea about those stories. You crazy. You need to write more.

Colt and Maggie said... Ruth told me about these at Thanksgiving thought you might get a kick out of them. I love Ira too!

Britta said...

Tom and I have given people rides on two occasions - and once was to a crazy Canadian that brought his gunS with him and kept talking about how he hated the US's strict gun laws! I seriously thought we were going to die. And I don't care about the karma - Ted Bundy used to ask women for rides, pretending his car was broken down!

Good stories - but no more rides to freeloaders!