Friday, February 27, 2009


I woke up at 6:53 this morning. I remember because like you, I couldn’t believe it either.

I figured I could get up, take a shower, wash some laundry, read the paper... ahhh the paper. Coffee and the paper, I thought. Perfect.

Like most days, the world is lucky if I wear underwear, let alone a made-up face and a fresh t-shirt when I open the apartment door to retrieve my periodical in orange plastic-wrap.

Today, however, my neighbor Scary Larry (who you may recall was the first person I met here, outside of my landlord and co-workers. Larry’s the one that likes to read and re-read the logo, emblem or Shakesperean quote on the front of my t-shirts... at least I think that's what he's doing. His yippie Chihuahua is so noisy I just HAVE to play Christina Aguilera at high decibels to drown it out) was knocking on Apartment No. 5, directly across from me.

Whoa, hey, good morning I said, thanking god for the invention of pants.

Hey, its cold out today, he said.

What a suprise, I said.

Yeah, my car won’t start. Cable TV says 19 below.

Oh no, is it that bad? I’d help you but I don’t have jumper cables, I said, closing my door and cursing morning newspaper delivery.

I do... he said, just before I locked, dead-bolted and duck-taped my door.

Oh, ok, I said, let me put some clothes on and see if mine starts, then we can try yours.

Sure enough, mine started (the one time I wished it wouldn't,) but we couldn’t get to Larry’s van because cars were parked on either side of his.

Why don’t we wait until after 8, Larry, maybe people will have moved their cars by then, I said.

Well, but I have to go to my son’s apartment to see if his car starts, do you think you could take me?

How bout you call him to see if his car works, Larry.

His phone don’t work.


So Larry and I hop in the Volvo. Yes. Me and Larry, in the Volvo, like old friends. Old friends who hardly know each other as Larry doesn’t even know my name.

Larry also doesn’t know how to ride in a Volvo as he couldn’t open the passenger door, nor could fit in the passenger seat. He even broke my cup holder. Broke it. How do cup holders even break?

So as we’re leaving the parking lot, the same parking lot that has claimed me three times, getting my car so stuck it takes two people and a wrecker truck, I realized it: this is my debt to society.

The night before, Jamestown got what the weatherman called 3-6 inches of snow but what I call 6 to infinity. I drove home from dinner just fine, but the same curb clenched me again. Luckily two passer-bys pushed me out.

One of the guys who pushed me didn’t have a job. I know this because we engaged in a nice little convo while un-hemorrhaging my Volvo for 30 minutes in the 30 below weather.

I’m the idiot girl that didn’t give the guy a little cash for his help and his time.

In fact, I’ve never paid anyone for pushing, pulling or otherwise unearthing my car, except for the commercial trucker service, and maybe I should have.

The people I talked to at work said you don’t have to, no one expects more than a thank you, but THEY WERE WRONG.

Paybacks are double, my dad says. It’s more likely that I’ll sport my bathing suit and TAN on the North Dakota beach tomorrow than this ever occurring again, but for the first and likely LAST time ever, my dad was right. Dad being right is like finding a sidewalk after a North Dakota snow storm, NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.

But back to Larry and his son who works two hours a day and tucks his sweatshirt into his jeans.

Larry Jr’s car started just fine. Awesome, let’s get outta here, I thought. My car smelled. I figured it was Larry but it wasn’t. It was my own morning breath.

In and out they go, to the car, to the apartment, whatever.

Larry stumbles to my car and asks if we can get a pop for his son at the grocery store. Is that too much? he asks.

Are you serious? You took me out here to wake a grown man who’s car started so he can get to work on time? Why do I have to take you back at all? Why can’t HE take you home, why can’t HE jump your car and why can’t HE GET HIS OWN POP????

Ok, I said.

Sure enough, half the roads are blocked because the city doesn’t clear the streets until 5-9 business days after a given storm and in doing so, the crews clear snow to the MIDDLE of the street including the intersections. I don’t know why a state like North Dakota isn’t leading the nation in snow-clearing efficiency, but maybe the arctic temperature stunted their mind-growth, you know what I mean?

So finally Larry buys what looks like every Coke Zero bottle Hugo’s has on its shelves while I text a few friends. Texting, if you didn’t know, is my generation’s form of the pinch. When your enduring something you can’t believe, text someone, its less painful.

The pain of the pinch however, was nothing compared to the agony I was in as I had to return to the man with a hoodie in his trousers and wait while Larry turned off the ignition, dropped off the pop and surely wiped the ass of his 31-year-old son.

Finally we return to headquarters, but Larry’s car was still encased with two others.

Should I keep checking and knock when one of them leaves?

No, you should wait until your son gets home and have HIM do this, I thought.

Sure, I said.

I hopped in the shower and hoped I’d have to go to work before Larry’s vehicular neighbors moved.

Knock, knock.


OK, Larry, let me dry my hair. I’ll be there in a minute.

We moved my car and his started, no problem. He offered to pay me, but I didn’t want his 50 cents nor did I ever want this to happen again.

After a morning like this, my debt was paid. In fact, I think society owes me.

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