A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
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A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
My lovely wife Dana and I were searching for a new house. It was almost desperation time. We had to move soon. I was at work when Dana called. She had just dropped the kids off at school. She was driving through a neighborhood on the Westside that we wanted to move into. They were putting the sign up in front of our dream home as she pulled up.
“It’s perfect!” She said excitedly, and she told me where it was. “Call our Realtor and I’ll be right over” was my reply. I checked out with my Boss and got in my GMC Denali Demo that I was driving at the time. I was excited that we had found a house and at the possibility of the search being over.
It was a chilly morning with a stiff wind blowing hard from the west. I drove over the crest of Agena road onto 70th street west. I noticed the lost look in her eyes first. I saw an elderly woman, more wobbling than walking on the side of the road. She looked cold. She had a thin windbreaker on. There are no houses nearby and I don’t see a car, something is very wrong.
I pull over close to her and got out of the Denali. “Are you alright”? I asked. “I need help” was her reply. A quick visual survey and she looked intact. I immediately helper her into the front seat. I turned on the big SUV’s heater and electric leather seat warmer. “How can I help?” I asked. “My van is stuck in an Arroyo” was her reply. I think that means wash or gully or valley, but I can’t see a van nearby.
I first made sure she was secure and drove her over to the house where my wife Dana and our realtor Denise were. They were surprised to see that I had a guest. After warming her up and getting her something warm to drink, I took a quick look at the house and it was great. I was then off to take care of Helen.
As we drove out to her Astro van Helen told me that she lived a senior park about 20 miles away in east Palmdale. She had a van because she was the last of her friends that could still drive and needed something big enough to take her friends to the drug store. Helen had heard that there was a new drugstore on the Westside and wanted to drive to it so she would be able to take her friends there, when they needed to go. Helen sounded a little shaky while she talked.
Helen had missed the street by one mile. She drove west, out Columbia way until it turned into a dirt road. She kept driving because it made sense to her that a new construction could be on a dirt road. She drove far enough west till she got to the California Aqueduct. She saw a gate and drove up the steep access road, towards the Aqueduct. The gate was closed so she turned and drove along the fence line until she ran out of real estate. Now sitting on a steep incline, she tried to back down and the van got stuck.
When I drove up to the Astro Van, I could not believe the steep angle it was sitting on. The driver’s door was still open. When Helen had opened the door to get out she fell and rolled about 30 yards down the hill. The van looked like it was ready to roll over. Helen had received a few scrapes and bruises on her 83 year old self on the way down. She had then walked about five miles to where I picked her up.
I then made three phone calls. First to a friend at the tow company. I told them that we needed a four-wheel drive tow for an extraction. I called work and told then that I would be late. I called the Sheriff’s department to report what was happening. The Tow truck showed up in about 20 minutes. Luckily it was a very experienced driver. At first he “said no way, it will roll.” After a little more crawling around the Tow truck driver agreed to give it a chance. He did a great job somehow got the van out of the Arroyo. We parked back on Columbia way.
Helen admitted that she didn’t know how to get home. Helen asked the driver if she could follow him back to Palmdale. He told her that he was headed the other way. Helen thanked him for the help and he was on his way. I asked Helen to wait here for a few minutes until the Sheriff’s Deputy arrived. Helen got panicky, “If the Sheriff comes, I could loose my license”. She put the van in gear and drove off. She doesn’t know where she’s going and didn’t look nearly sturdy enough to drive. I decided to follow Helen. I called the Sheriffs department and repeated my request for assistance and told them that we were going mobile.
Down Columbia way, first fast and then slow. Helen ran a four way stop. She was hard to follow safely, but I kept her in view. After driving east for eight miles, we get to Challenger way. If she turns right she is headed home. She turns left. More of the same high speed, low speed and back. Five miles of driving north through town and Helen turns west. I realize that she is headed in a circle. One more turn and we will be back on Columbia way. Helen stops suddenly and pulls over on the dirt shoulder. I also stop and get out to tell her that the freeway and the way home are behind us.
She makes a fast, dangerous and dusty u-turn and is headed back towards the freeway. I am following as she gets on the freeway headed south, which is the right direction. After driving 12 miles on the freeway at speeds from 40 to 85, her off ramp is coming up next. I decided to pass her and see if I could lead her off. I waived as I went by. I signaled early. She signaled also. I pulled onto the off ramp and she was following, but at the last possible minute, she swerved hard back onto the freeway, north bound. I had lost her. There was no way in that much traffic to get back on the freeway quickly.
I went back to work severely dejected. What would happen to Helen? I had let her down. I remember stories of elderly people getting lost and not returning. I let my wife know. A half-hour passed when I received a phone call. It was Helen! She told me that she arrived at home and appreciated all of the help. What a relief!
Three days later, a large plant was delivered to my office. It had a note that read; thank you for rescuing a Damsel in distress
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