Mar 11 2013

A Valentine’s Day Lesson

I had just gotten on the interstate a little before 6am. It’s February, it’s cold, and I see this woman walking on the side of the highway wrapped in a blanket.

Now I don’t pick up a lot of people that I see hitchhiking, but I do pick up some. Many times I have been left walking after my car broke down on the side of the road. One time our old truck broke down a few miles outside of Lexington. Nobody else wanted to pick up a long-haired guy in a long black trench coat. I walked, freezing, in the cold November rain for a long time before this car pulled up. It was a Taurus full of Mexicans who were kind enough to let me squeeze in with them and they gave me a ride back into town.

So I couldn’t just let this woman walk on the side of I-70 in the dark in the middle of February. I pulled over and she got in the car.

“I done got myself stuck. On Valentine’s Day. Ain’t that some ——“

She said she needed a ride to a truck stop, which seemed a little odd as there was one just a mile behind her.

I tried to converse with her, but it was difficult. Whenever I would ask her a question, there would be a 3-5 second delay before she answered. I couldn’t tell if she couldn’t hear me, or didn’t want to answer.

“How far you goin’?” she asked.

“I’m going all the way to downtown Kansas City.”

She thought that was very funny.

“You goin’ to another party?”

What? What kind of question was that?

“No, I’m going to work.”

She had nothing to say about that. We sat in silence for a long time, me driving and her smoking and fidgeting with her knees.

“Where you live?”

Seemed like an innocent enough question.

“I live in Higginsville.”

“You live alone?”

Uh oh. I don’t typically pick up on hints very well, but even I was getting a bad vibe about this chick now.

“No, I’m married and have two kids.”

We continued to ride in silence, occasionally interrupted by a general question from me, followed by a delayed vague reply from her. She wanted to stop somewhere to buy cigarettes, which I declined. Then she mentioned how tired she was, and asked if I had money for a motel room. Um, no, I don’t carry cash. I was starting to think her conversational skills were influenced by something other than a hearing problem.

When we reached the truck stop, she didn’t want let off at the truck stop building, she wanted let off at a truck. More accurately, she wanted me to get out, leave her in my car, while I asked a trucker if she could use his CB to ask area truckers for a ride.

“Sorry, I can’t. I’ve got to go to work, and I need to get going.”

She sat there for a long time fidgeting with her knees, rocking back and forth.

“I’m so sleepy, I’m so tired, I’m so sleepy, I’m so tired.”

She wasn’t getting out of the car. Oh, great, I thought. I’m gonna be on COPS.

“I’ve got to leave, and we are in a truck lane,” I told her.

“I’m just getting myself worked up to get out!” she said while rocking.

Finally she got out. I locked the doors and made for the interstate posthaste.


And that’s how I accidentally picked up a prostitute on Valentine’s Day.


Once I was back on the road I called my wife and related my harrowing tale.

“YOU PICKED UP A WHORE!?” she asked incredulously.

“Well, I don’t know for sure that I did, but it certainly looks suspiciously like that.”

She thought that was quite hilarious, but asked me not to pick up any more women on the side of the road.

It’s hard to say just what lesson I learned from this–or should have learned from this. Right now it still seems pretty surreal, and my application seems pretty shallow, but so far all I got is:

‘If you see a woman walking along the interstate in the cold at 6 in the morning, lock the doors, hit the gas, and keep on driving.’

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Feb 14 2012

The St. Valentine’s Day Bitters

You can identify all of the people who wish to be in love but currently are not by their ‘I hate Valentine’s Day’ posts on Facebook, the poor blighters. If they were happily single or just ambivalent, they wouldn’t have anything to say. How many posts have you seen from me on the topic of National Peanut Butter Day (January 24)?

Yeah, I know some of you, both in love and out, see it as a scam cooked up by greeting card manufacturers, but I feel no more compelled to do something I don’t want by Valentine’s Day than I feel constrained from doing something I do want by that whole, ‘forsaking all others’ part of our marriage vows. Heather and I see it as simply an excuse to go buy something nice for each other, which we might normally do anyway. When you celebrate as many days as we do together (first date, first kiss, Hanukkah, Friday, 17 1/2th anniversary, National Peanut Butter Day), Valentine’s is just another opportunity to express being happily married.

It’s funny, and somehow very telling, that the Roman Catholic church has 25 patron saints of unhappy marriages, but only one saint of happy marriages (I’ll let you figure it out).

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