Today I experienced a capitalist venture’s delicate dance between offering top-rate customer service and making a profit. I also experienced government systems’ non-apologetic mistreatment of its customers and its prioritization of bureaucracy’s blind rules over common sense coupled with true customer service. But I was saved by strangers, every-day Americans, who went above and beyond to cover for the failings of the government systems.

Today a breathtakingly handsome, shirtless young man scooped me up in his arms, and carried me to safety.

His chivalrous act was supposed to be told at the end of the post, but I can’t wait to share it that long. I don’t know his name. That’s right. He was a complete stranger. But I was in a dangerous predicament trying to walk uphill, very likely to fall, out of breath because I couldn’t carry my oxygen as well as my purse, my heart was pounding too fast, my 90-degree bent forward posture and inability to lift my head made it impossible so see where I was going, and I don’t have a cell phone nor was there any building within blocks. So I stuck out my thumb.

Many people avoided looking at me, and went by, even though the road exists solely to take people to/fro the large complex in which I live. The two people in the Jeep passed me by, and I sighed. But they apparently circled back because I could make out the Jeep again. I explained that I lived there too and briefly described my physical issues (rather evident anyway).

Then, I had to hand my purse to his girlfriend, another complete stranger, so that I could wrap my arms around the handsome stranger’s neck and shoulders as he lifted me off the ground and up, up, up into his Jeep. Yes, I had tried mightily myself, but I can’t lift my legs that high. I’d already told them to go on their way, insistently (!), and thanked them for trying. But … … they were determined not to leave me. That’s when his girlfriend offered to have him pick me up in his arms and place me in the front passenger seat while she held my purse, after which he grabbed the seatbelt and secured me — which was good since I was quite light-headed and shaking.

To think that a government worker could have saved me from being stranded, … but we’ll leave that part of the story for the end, when I’m able to finish. I need a break. There’s more I’ve already written, so I’ll leave that part below, then come back and add the missing section that explains how I got stranded.

This morning, I left home and drove the 15 miles, to drop my car off at the only mechanic I’ve ever allowed to touch it. A beautiful woman who can still turn eyes and a former race car driver. Along with her steadfast husband and son, they have survived. They used to have a gas station in an ideal location and were the only station to offer full service. But she could not find teenagers or young adults who she could rely on to provide that service to her satisfaction. Rather than waste more years having to babysit kids who couldn’t follow simple directions, they closed the station and moved their repair service to a place with larger bays. She has always driven me home, but not since I moved 15 miles away since, it’s true, it takes a minimum 90 minutes to make the round trip. She did save me Bus No. 1 by driving me to the town center’s bus depot.

Lucky me! I got there five minutes before the #40 bus that’d take me 13.5 miles. But there was no bus. The time came and went. No #40 bus showed up. Other riders and I were confused. We knew we had to wait an HOUR for the next bus. We were in front of the correct sign for #40 but the only bus, locked up with lights flashing, was two signs south of us, and we couldn’t see its number. A young surfer type, at my request, let me hold onto him. I had no choice but to trust him.

We asked and asked every rider, but they were confused too. Finally, a bus employee said the bus, which had NO number, was the one to get on. That didn’t ease my anxiety because I’ve been told too many times in my life, by government employees, that their instructions were correct but weren’t.

Since the surfer kid was a restless type, I also befriended an exceptionally tastefully dressed adult man who is black. No surfer gear had he. His hair was perfectly cut, his well-made white t-shirt was spotless, his fashionable shoes looked brand new. He was coming to my town to find work. I got bubbly with excitement, telling him where to go.

I only mention his being black because it is so rare to see a black person in these parts that they stand out, and it’s impossible not to look at them.

It’s as if I’ve gone back in time to my childhood. My parents heard rumors that a black man lived up in the hills of our valley and came to town once a month to buy groceries. We never saw him but were overcome with curiosity. This area is almost like that, except that there are many Hispanics, Native Americans, and Indians (who sadly had a rough time after 9/11 because some local ignoramuses assumed they were A-rabs.