Thursday, June 15, 2006
(old post from the myspace)
Meanwhile...as the Polish Mafia of Birmingham returned to their laboratories, I was heading home on foot. It was a nice day for walking. Still early enough in the summer that we haven't had an "Ozone Alert" day yet and the humidity was still pretty low.
I took the long way home, through Five Points South and around Highland. When I got to the gas station on 22nd, near Bottega, I stepped around a Lincoln Towncar that was parked on the sidewalk. In the backseat was an old man with his door open. He had to be at least ninety. I was just on the other side of the car when he said "Miss..oh Miss!". I kept walking for a few more steps but he called out to me again. I turned around and saw him beckoning me back to the car.
I relucantly walked back, pulling my headphones off. When I got to the car I noticed a wheelchair in the front passenger seat and a woman in the driver's side. She looked much younger than the man, maybe about 70 or so.
He smiled at me and said, "Excuse me, could you please get in the car and start the engine? We can't get the engine started, you have to push on the break."
"You want me to get into your car and start it?" I ask. He assures me that this is exactly what they want. However, when I walk around to the drivers side the woman opens the door, looks at me, but doesn't make a move to get out of the car. I realize that the very act of walking on the sidewalk for a distance longer than from a parking lot to a store front is already suspicious behavior in Birmingham. I'm sure that my nebulous ethnicity, my sweaty jeans and my t-shirt didn't do much to make her feel any better.
We stay like that for at least a full minute and finally I say "Um, I'm going to go soon so I guess if you want some help I should do it now."
She looks at me again and says "Well....alright. I guess so. But I am stepping on the break." Then she proceeds to get out of the car. This requires much hanging on to the dash and then to the door of the car but I don't offer her my arm since she's already a little wary of me. I sit down in the seat and realize that this was a standard transmission which has been converted for a disability. I can't tell if the clutch still works so I start by stepping on the break and turning the key. The engine starts immediately.
The old man in the back seat crows and the woman says to me "Now what did you do?"
"Just lucky I guess, I stepped on the break like he asked me to"
I get out of the car and she lowers herself back in saying, "I stepped on the break already. Which one is the break?"
"It's the one in the middle" I say.
She is a few inches taller than I am, wearing a skirt, a silk blouse and low black pumps. Her feet wave around under the dash, searching for the peddles. Her left foot is wiggling under the break. With a look of great concentration at her knees she says to me (or maybe to her knees) "Which one is the one in the middle? Can you put my foot on it?"
I am alarmed, and starting to feel like I might be on a candid camera show. I crouch down in the driveway of the gas station and put her foot on the break. "That one, sweetie, that one is the break." I am freaked out enough to call an old woman 'sweetie'. The man in the backseat rolls his eyes at me when I stand up. His look says "Do you see what I have to put up with here?".
I close the driver side door and walk around the car. Then I walk around to the back passenger side and close his door. I start again on my way home and when I look back, they are pulling slowly through the gas station. For the rest of the walk I think about how I should have driven them to where they were going and then called a cab to go home.
So anyway...if you see me on a new candid camera show entitled "Old People Behaving Badly" or something, could you please let me know? I'm still a little wierded out.