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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

ROAD TRIP: Cross Country Adventure Part 2

So I pulled into the gas station in a completely dead automobile, having no idea what was wrong or what it might require to fix it. I went into the (thankfully) 24 hour station to find a younger woman (younger than I was, at any rate) working the counter, doing her nails. She informed me that there wasn't a mechanic at this station, and in any case nobody would be able to help for several hours, at least until well after daylight.

I crawled back into my car and spent several hours trying to sleep, but between the discomfort of the seat (for sleeping, it was fine for driving) and a growing anxiety I pretty much stared at the dashboard.

Around 8am a pickup pulled up with three guys in it. The woman had called the local mechanic -- a guy named Beverly --  to see if he could fix the car, so he and a couple of buddies came ver to the station to see if they could help. I figured I was in trouble when his first question was if the car was a Japanese make (it's British).

He futzed around and finally decided the problem was the alternator. Since British Electric had a major reputation for being unreliable this seemed like a decent theory, at least to me. He pulled the alternator, examined it and said he would have to go pick up a part from a dealership in Tuscaloosa, some twenty miles away. This was around 9am so I figured I would be on the road again in a few hours. Beverly and his buddies headed off in the pickup again and I sat in my car, essentially killing the time any way I could.

I called my Father to let him know what had happened using a pay phone that was on the premises (this was before the age of cellphones). I then rang my friend Malcolm who at the time lived in Rushton, Louisiana where I was supposed to spend that night. Malcolm and I planned to go down to New Orleans for a night on the town before I resumed my trek west, but this little delay might cost us that trip. 

An hour or so later another pickup pulled into the lot, and three guys got out. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but they were rivals of Beverly. The lead guy came over to see the car -- the hood was still up -- and asked what was going on. At this point I was hot and tired and just wanted to get on with my life (no sleep, and it was summer in the south). 

The guy began stoking the flames, as it were, and tsp-tsking about how long Beverly was taking. "I'd a had you outta here hours ago", etc. It got to me and I let him talk me into calling the gas company office in Birmingham -- when common sense should have simply had me talk to the owner of the station, who at this point was working the cash register inside the store. The owner knew I was out there and waiting for Beverly and his crew to return, and hadn't really shown much desire to get involved. But it would have been the appropriate thing to do. Instead I let the new guy put the phone in my hand and we called customer relations.

Shortly afterward the new guy and his buddies took off, leaving me to deal with an (understandably) angry station owner a short time later. He came out and told me to get off his property -- something I was flat out incapable of doing until I got the alternator back. I tried to explain what had happen, and finally got him on the phone with my father, who managed to calm the situation down. A couple hours later Beverly showed back up, installed the alternator, gave me a jump and promptly told me it would be $200 for the repair. No credit card -- which of course left me without any cash for the remainder of the trip.

I unhappily forked it over, made a couple of calls to my Dad and Malcolm, and hit the road again, happy to finally rid of the town of Union.

Continued tomorrow....

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