Golden gladiators shuffling down a long and dusty driveway. I knock on the farmhouse door, and sheepishly pointing to the Mercedes on the side of the road, ask if I could make a phone call. It may be twenty years old, but this car is still a fish out of water along the forgotten backroads of South Carolina. Instead of handing over his cell phone, my new friend gets right to work, slithering under the trunk of my car to take a look. He determines that the job is too big for him and calls his friend, who drives over to help a city damsel in distress. Between the two of them, they reattach my muffler with a few coat hangers and point me in the direction of Mercer's Mufflers.
Mercer's turns out to be the kind of place you would have thought was closed twenty years ago. I don't see anything in sight that isn't covered in rust, and there's no office, waiting room, or vending machine. There's just this one guy, Richard, or as his friends call him, Roach. He clamps the muffler on for $10 and replaces a rusted out pipe for $40 more while I wander around the place taking photos and hoping he isn't offended by my intrigue. As it turns out, this sketchy twist of events is a blessing. When I talked to Tim hours later, he said he was looking for just this sort of guy to help us detour around a $400 Mercedes muffler replacement.
It's funny how a good turn of events overshadows a few bad moments. This all started because I heard some tin cans clanking behind my car and knew I wasn't a newlywed. I was stranded on the side of a two lane road in inland SC with no phone and no friend. Nonetheless, four nice guys turned this day into a gift so that I barely remember that I wouldn't have needed them without that car trouble. Maybe it's good to need them. Maybe a little dependence is healthy.
Someone (and it may be my Dear Husband) will use this story as an excuse to insist that I need a cell phone. Perhaps that's true, but there's another side to this, too. It turned out better that I didn't have one. Sure, I could have called right up and gotten someone to come out and tow my car to the nearest Midas 36 miles away. They would have replaced my muffler and I would have been on my way, my wallet a lot lighter and my car in great shape. Instead I made a few friends, got some great photos, proved to myself that I can survive a little car trouble, and had my muffler fixed instead of replaced. I suppose we'll see how that turns out in the long run. For today, I'm all gratitude and not a bit annoyed with the detour.
1. Admission. No young lady shall become a member of Mt. Holyoke Seminary who cannot kindle a fire, wash potatoes, repeat the multiplication table, and at least two-thirds of the shorter catechism.
2. Outfit. Every candidate for admission must be provided with a pair of rubber boots, one pair of cowhide shoes, a copy of Todd's Students's Manual, one orthodox bonnet and a clothes-line. N. B. No cosmetics, perfumes or fancy soaps will be permitted on the premises.
3. Exercise. Every member of this school shall walk at least a mile a day, unless a freshet, earthquake, or some other calamity prevent. The bounds to the north are marked by a stake, also those to the south and west. If any young lady shall go beyond said bounds, she shall scrub floors and wash dishes two weeks as a penalty.
4. Reading. No young lady shall devote more than an hour of each day to miscellaneous reading. The Atlantic Monthly, Shakespeare, Scott's Words, Robinson Crusoe, and other immoral works are strictly prohibited. The Boston Recorder, Missionary Herald, Doddridge's Rise and Progress, and Washington's Farewell Address are earnestly recommended for light reading.
5. Dress. No young lady connected with this institution shall adorn herself with flowers, plumes, or other vanities, and no colors of excessively gay nature will be tolerated, unless they be a composed yellow, dignified mouse, or puritan gray.
6. Company. No young lady is expected to have any gentleman acquaintances, unless they are retired missionaries or agents of benevolent societies. Daguerreotypes and plastic busts are also prohibited. "Thou shalt not worship any false images."
7. Hour of rising. Every student shall rise and three and retire at eight o'clock. Any violation of this rule will receive the penalty of additional work in the laundry.
8. Essays. No young lady shall write at any time write compositions except upon the following subjects: Friendship, Hope, Flowers, Beauties of Nature and Benevolence. Those designed for old maids may add Love.
9. Time at the Mirror. No young lady shall spend more than three consecutive minutes at the mirror.
10. Sabbath rules. No young lady who is a member of this school shall laugh or look out of the window on the Sabbath. Failure to observe this rule will be attended with severe punishment.
After being heckled in Peru for the last 2.5 years, I finally fought back today at the Giant Penny. Wish the leering had happened somewhere else to defy the stereotype about my favorite ghetto grocery store, but no surprises here. As I left the gym (granted, not wearing my most modest outfit, but still well-covered and expecting to be treated like a human), I had to go by the Giant Penny to pick up some chicken necks for Ellie's breakfast.
Some thug walked by and made a slew of inappropriate comments. I didn't know exactly what to say, but I was done letting it slide. Particularly in Charlotte where this kind of behavior is really not socially accepted the way it is in Peru. I just stared him down for a moment and then asked him if he could please attempt to treat me with a little more respect. When he tried to defend himself, I told him I really didn't appreciate his treatment of me. He sheepishly apologized and walked off. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL! Score one for me!
Generally I walk away from these situations feeling degraded, violated, stripped of my humanity, ashamed of my weakness, downright furious, filled with bitterness and thoughts of evil revenge. Instead, today I left proud, happy, empowered, and dignified. I don't know why it took me this long to stand up for myself, but honestly it feels like a major life turning point!
Living in Charlotte, I probably won't encounter this kind of situation often. That's good. But for now at least I know that I can fight back with grace and dignity.
That was a headline in the Portland paper today. You know you're in Maine when....
And I'm so glad to be here! It's been three years since I sat at this same spot overlooking the Casco Bay and writing about our upcoming journey to Peru. From the other side, it seems so short.
Time is flying indeed. I've been happily busy and am equally happy to have made it to this vacation. Nevermind that it's 90 degrees in Maine (why did I fly all the way up here?!). Last week was very full-- tutoring some GED folks at a post-rehab place, an interview for a Spanish immersion teaching position, lunch with my 93-year-old grandfather, putting a turquoise stripe in my hair ;-)
It's lovely to be in a place all of the sudden where I can't drive anywhere (even if there were somewhere to drive... and there isn't) and my only order of business for the day is to work on my online course. Wish I had brought my camera card reader, but I'll keep taking some photos to post when I get home.