Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

The Least of God’s Creatures

Ever wonder where God is, and why She isn’t taking care of the least of Her creatures?

There are people out there, my friends, who are the least of God’s creatures. The “least” are not amoebae or viruses or organic molecules dwelling on comets floating around in space. The least of God’s creatures are human beings who should be cared for and should if cared for properly be able to care for themselves. Maybe.

Yesterday I had the privilege and the sorrow of  encountering one of the Least, God help her…if only God would be bothered.

I’d had to drive halfway to Yuma to attend a meeting on the far west side of the Valley. On the way out there, apparently I had a reaction to an allergy medicine I’d swallowed after swilling an entire pot of very strong coffee. After nearly passing out while cruising across a surface street at 50 mph, I’d taken refuge in a parking lot where some construction workers were holding forth. When I recovered enough to move the car, I moved it closer to where the men were working, thinking I might need someone else’s help, and when I did that, I drove over the curb around an empty planter bed, hitting both wheels on the right side fairly hard. But the car seemed OK, and the guy I ended up talking to thought it would be fine.

The phenomenon subsided, and since I was more than halfway to my destination, I figured I could get there faster than I could by going home, and there would be people there who could help if need be.

After the emergency flashers had been going so melodramatically, the turn signals stopped working. At least, I put it down to something having to do with the emergency flashers — it wasn’t the first time a turn signal failed, although both of them had never gone out at once. Oh well.

Park, go in, spend three hours in the meeting, and feel OK except for a slight headache and a couple of mild dizzy spells. The meeting breaks up, and I jump into my car and start the long drive home.

About a mile down the road, my car stops dead in the left turn lane of a major intersection. It’s DEAD dead. No response at all from the ignition switch.

The police come and two burly cops push my car out of the traffic and park it in a bus pull-out. I cannot for the life of me make my cell phone thingie work well enough to reach the insurance company’s roadside assistance feature, so one of the cops calls on his much fancier cell.

We’re told a tow truck will arrive in 30 minutes. He arranges for them to meet me in a QT across the road, since it’s over 100 in the sun and he’s very skeptical about the 30-minute promise. He says it usually takes about an hour for a tow truck to show up.

An hour later…two hours later…

My son gets wind of this and drives all the way out to the west side to babysit me — it’s twenty miles. He’s an insurance guy himself, so he attempts to negotiate their roadside service by phone.

Long story short: we end up waiting FIVE HOURS for the tow truck to show up. Hilariously enough, the towing company calls itself “About Time” Towing.

There’s no seating in the QT, and it’s nonstop crowded and hectic. So he decides we should wait in his car, despite the heat — he will run the AC for a few minutes at a time. He backs the vehicle, a crossover type Ford, into a space in a row of empty spaces on far border of the lot, where we can see my car across the gigantic intersection, lest the tow guy go there instead of the QT and lest the city come and try to impound it.

We sit there for quite a while, the only car in this empty row of parking. The sun goes down.

After dark, along comes an old junker of a pickup with a camper shell on the back, jam-packed with junk. The occupants park it right next to us, even though the entire row is empty.

They sit there for about 20 minutes. Eventually, they both climb out of the truck through the passenger door — on my side of our car.

When they get out, we can see these two people are in pretty bad shape. The woman in particular is a wreck: she looks like she hasn’t bathed in two weeks. Her hair is filthy, and her threadbare clothes barely hang on her scrawny body. She’s listless and looks exhausted.

I wonder if they’re homeless, living out of their truck — though with all the stuff crammed in the back, it doesn’t look like there’s  room to sleep in it. He thinks it’s possible, and remarks that Walmart allows the homeless to sleep in their parking lots: maybe QT does, too. Besides, the guy has on a workman’s uniform. I think the Walmart thing applies just to RVs; he points out that their truck could sort of qualify for that. And the guy could have found the “uniform” (it doesn’t look like that to me) at Goodwill. Besides, in Arizona plenty of working-class jobs don’t pay enough to keep a roof over your head.

They walk off into the field behind us and disappear into the darkness.

My son figures they’ve gone off to do some drugs. I think they’ve gone to meet a dealer and score some dope, because they seemed to be waiting for the right time to set out.

When they get back, it’s clear my son is right — maybe both of us are right.

Now they sit on the ground, hiding between the two cars. It’s like we’re in a bathysphere, looking out on some strange creatures in an alien environment. The guy is speeding, babbling on and on in a loud voice. The woman is wilted. She just sits there curled in a ball, her head down and her stringy, dingy hair flopped over her face.

It’s impossible to put that abject woman out of one’s mind. I can’t even describe how destroyed she seemed to be.

The man, a big, tough-looking guy with a shaved head, at least looked reasonably clean and healthy.  On one occasion he appeared to try to help her — eventually they climbed back in the truck, and since she got in first he had to try to settle her into the driver’s seat. But in fact, his definition of helping her entailed keeping her company in getting high.

Finally, a little after 8 p.m., along comes the tow truck driver: another of God’s neglected creatures. We decide to have him tow the car to my house, since I don’t know whether Chuck the Wonder-Mechanic has space to park vehicles after hours. I don’t think so, though.

This shifty little guy is one of those folks who’s so dumb you wonder how they learned to tie their shoe laces. But cheerful. Cheerfully dumb.  He manages to haul the Dog Chariot the twenty miles back to my house without breaking anything obvious. Once we got back here, I have a chance to chat with him and realize that he’s not only child-like but also behaves as though he’s high.

That, I suppose, explains something about why he was 4½ hours late.

By the side of the road, Tow Dude has found one of those ball-point pens that have a tiny flashlight in one end.  So tickled is he with this prize that he shows it off like a proud little boy, waving it around and clicking it on and off. But he’s not a child: he’s a man in his mid- to late twenties. But this one at least has a job: average pay $26,000; median pay $30,000. Not enough to put much of a roof over your head…but a roof.

Welp, tomorrow is going to be another Day from Hell, especially if I have to go out and buy a car. And so, to bed…

Some “vacation”…



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Author: funny

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  1. Wow….Some vacation is right…..Couple of things…First, God Bless your Son. It would have been real easy to not answer his phone or “beg off” and tell you “he was doing something”. Funny … Ya got a “keeper” there. I can only imagine how you felt when he got there. Just to have someone with you who gives a crap about your welfare, means so very much in situations like this. And to sit with you for five hours till the vehicle was towed….PRICELESS. As for the “dog chariot”….sounds to me like the alternator OR battery OR you might have thrown a belt…Hard to say….so hold up on the new car just yet. BUT on the other hand it might be time to start looking around for a worthy replacement. I’m not a fan of tow trucks!
    As for the folks in the pick up….I guess I’m weird….but I wonder what got that young lady to that point in life. Loss of a job…bad marriage…bad childhood…bad luck? And it seems, in this neck of woods anyway, drug addiction and dependence has become all to prevalent in the more affluent ‘Burbs. Basically where I live has become a “semi Richestan” now….With homes selling in the $750’s within walking distance of my home. But within 2 miles of my home is a “methadone clinic” that just had to enlarge it’s parking lot…because business is so “good”. I guess being affluent is tough….
    What you just experienced with your car, I worry daily will happen to my Mom. She is driving around a ” bucket of bolts” with a dented passenger door that won’t open. We can not find a door…new or used….and she insists on continuing to drive this thing. Worries me to death. Hope the rest of your “vacation” is not as “eventful”…….

    • Yeah, it was wonderful of him to come out there and waste half his day sitting around. Of course, neither of us had a CLUE we would be stuck there for five hours. That reminds me, I need to write a letter to Safeco today…

      The Chariot has a brand-new alternator. Maybe if that’s the problem it’ll be covered on some sort of warranty? Wonder where Chuck buys that stuff.

      Your mom probably has the same thought I do: Pulling 20 grand out of savings intended to support you in your dotage is highly counterproductive. Paying for it on time, instead, will mean $375 or $400 a month at a time when that kind of bite will create a REAL hardship. There’s NO WAY I can afford to pony up $375 for a loan. I’m living on my RMD, and taking that much out of savings will far exceed the amount of the RMD — holy mackerel! That’s $4500 a year!

      One doesn’t feel happy about having to pinch an already pinched lifestyle even further when you know you don’t have that many years left to drive. Do I really want to gag out $4500 a year for something that will be taken away from me before its useful life ends? Well…no. Surely not. I want to save that money to buy a self-driving car when those things come available and have had the bugs worked out. THAT will help keep me out of the nursing home/life-care “community,” where I’d rather die than be warehoused away.

      If the Chariot will just hang in there another two or three years, those cars may already be here by then. Projections are that they’ll be available in two to five years:

      Who knows what happens to people that they start using drugs? Tolleson, where this adventure occurred, is a working-class area. It used to be a migrant labor camp. Today it houses a huge trucking and warehouse district — this is where Connie the Truck Driver delivers her freight in the Phoenix area, and it’s where she parks her truck when she’s in town for a few days. The people passing through the QT were mostly comfortable-looking working class people, with decent rolling stock, well dressed, very multicultural — white, black, & Mexican in about equal proportions. There’s no Richistan out there, but the poverty that used to hold forth has largely been replaced with lower-middle-class tracts.

      She probably either had been abused in some way or had a mental problem that pushed her toward addiction. Whatever, she was in bad shape.

      Drug use is endemic here, throughout all social classes. Your meth clinic echoes ours: Richistan is next door to my ‘hood; the clinic is just about two miles from here — I could easily walk to it. And of course, that means the meth-heads can easily walk to our houses…bearing their burglary tools. This city is a patchwork of enclaves: we have the North Central and Encanto enclaves, both of which are bordered by blight. The light-rail allows the “residents” of the blight to ride up and down now, so it brings drug addicts and panhandlers from downtown up here, and from our area downtown. Sharing the resources, as it were…