I know I shouldn't look back at this memory so fondly, and that it is strange that I am not traumatized or terrified, but I'm thankful and grateful that I was the one it happened to.
It was Friday night and I was driving home from Fresno State. I was running late due to class registrations. I was on highway 152, nearing exit Ave 17, near Madera.
I was filled with a terrible sense of foreboding and then my car broke down, the power steering died before I could guide my vehicle to the shoulder. I had to muscle myself across the lanes and into the gravel, I knew where I was due to the bright neon sign in front of my vehicle.
Frenzied and not looking forward to spending the night on the side of the highway, I search through my things, digging for my cell phone- but it wasn't there. The memory of my dead phone being plugged into the charger in my room flashes through my mind.
Desperate to be anywhere but stranded on the side of the road, in the dark, barely clothed from with warm spring day. I get out and start jumping beside my car. I wave my arms frantically, attempting to collect any help available.
A diesel pulls off the road, perhaps a half a mile or so a head of me, and sits. The same foreboding feeling washes over my body and I start to sob silently. Jumping frantically and desperately, I beg for somebody to pull over- for someone to save me.
An old woman with a Fresno paw print on her back window pulls over several feet in front of me. She allows me to use her phone- I choke on my words because I’m trembling. I’m not sure if my convulsing is from fear, the cold, or my gratitude.
My brother answers after a several rings, he puts my dad on the phone. My dad is on his way, he promises to be here soon.
The diesel man gets out of his vehicle and starts to walk towards us, I feel like a piece of steak put on a platter in front of a starving wolf. My shivering worsens. I’m petrified, the foreboding feeling strengthens and my blood runs cold with fear.
The woman tells me to get into her vehicle, my mind isn’t working, but my body obeys. Inside I feel safe, but alone. The man approaches her window and asks her if she would like him to watch over me. She declines and states that her and her friend will wait here beside me as long as necessary. She dismisses him and he leaves.
Relief floods my system; the long breath I didn't know I was holding is released. I’m safe.
The woman talks to me, to pass the time or to dissolve the discomfort and awkwardness. She tells me why she pulled over. She said I reminded her of her daughter. Several years ago her daughter's car had broken down on her way home, she attended Fresno State also; except her daughter wasn’t helped, she was raped and abused on the side of the road, no one assisted her, but luckily she escaped. Something drops in my gut, I’m silenced- I don't want to dig and open deep wounds.
A cop shows up, they release me into his custody. He ushers me into his car. The awkwardness that had followed me into the woman's vehicle returned.
His radio talks, the language is foreign to me, "the x-ray had been picked up" I ask him what an x-ray is, he says "you".
We start to talk, my words are monochromatic- my brain is still in shock, replaying the night events on an inescapable loop.
He talks to me, and vaguely reminds me of a neo conservative. He bring up politics- like coming out of a coma my brain starts to stir and wake. We're having a heated debate full of rebuttals- our difference of opinions is argue with strong reasoning. Time rushes by.
My dad arrives, my heart is elated. None of this seems real, it all feels like a memory or a dream and like I’m finally beginning to regain consciousness The cop and my father escort me to my fathers SUV. My dog, Que, is inside waiting; any tears stains left on my face are cleaned away her by her loving licks. I’m awake and refreshed.
The cop and my father talk while AAA secures my car. When the AAA worker is done my father and the cop part.
Inside the Tahoe my dad tells me what he and the cop had talked about- me. The cop said I am a special girl and that I either have god or a dozen angels looking over me.
Normally x-rays are not a top concern for police officers, but because the station was flooded with calls of a petite girl stranded on the side of the road I was safe.
Due to this happy conclusion, I'm filled with peace, happiness and fondness. This experience reminds me not all of man is evil. Some men may have lost their way, but that is because society corrupted them.