Going It Alone

Work continues, obviously. This week I put in almost 50 hours…

I went out on my own, working, for the first full day on Thursday. I spent the day restoring or replacing traps which had blown down from their locations in trees. My partner was finishing a few things in Dubuque County (and replacing one or two downed traps herself) before heading back home (for her) to do nine placements for Linn County.

So I got to go out by myself. I had done a few hours on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons (her travel time to and from our region where I actually live) but never a full solo day. I did all right, but not everything went smoothy or well.

First, I discovered that the “trap sheets” we create for each trap need to be in some order other than the one my partner had established (personally, I think it was merely the order in which we had placed the traps). Numerical order, as each two-mile by two-mile square has a unique number, seems most logical to me, if only because that system would make it possible to quickly locate a specific grid without unnecessary and extensive  searching through a whole countyʼs set of sheets (over a hundred, or even fifty more, for each our of three counties). I wasted nearly twenty minutes in two cases right off, heading north from home for several resettings, trying to discover the right trap sheets (for the detailed map we/she had drawn of the exact site) when numbered order would have sped me to the right sheet in almost no time. So at the end of the day I spent a half hour reorganizing the Clinton County sheets (and I will do the same for Jackson to start my Monday).

…could actually be my (current) GOV…

Second, my GOV continues to act up. Not the vehicle itself, but the dashboard display* (that which went beserk, sending the speedometer into nonsense mode, as the tachometer has always been — “always” since I met the GOV, at least). This whole week the “Service Engine Soon” indicator (the almost most worthless warning light a car designer could under-imagine) has been on, so I finally asked for permission to take the GOV in for service (well, for a price estimate for possible service) on Friday, and I stopped by the local Chevy dealer to set up an appointment midmorning on my solo Thursday.

Third, not long after I left town again, heading south this time, having finished replacing a downed trap on Clinton Countyʼs 280th Avenue, I somehow, accidentally, locked myself out of the running vehicle. Even my cell was not in my pants but tucked next to the emergency brake. I was utterly stranded, on my own, out in the country on a gravel road.

I couldnʼt believe it. Nor understand how it had happened. I had thought that one reason we left our vehicles running as we placed and replaced traps was to avoid just this ridiculous issue (I know that my pickup wonʼt allow me to lock myself out while the key is in the ignition). Naturally, panic set in. And the darkening skies bespoke the rain that was on its way (fortunately, although I didnʼt know that in advance, not to actually arrive until Friday and today — what a dreary pre-springlike, unsummerly weekend this has become).

However, I did think I could see some outbuildings around a big bend to the south, perhaps a half mile or so distant. So, the GOV being ironically as secure as possible, even though the engine was running, I set out down the road afoot. The place didnʼt look too promising as I arrived, only sheds, a car and stuff visible until I realized I was overlooking the earth-sheltered house beside the drive. I had to wander rudely out “back” beyond the house to find a door, but fortunately, an older man (than I) answered and actually let me use his phone to call 911.** The surly operator did dispatch a deputy sheriff. I hung up and returned the guyʼs cell, thanking him profusely for actually responding to my knock and helping me. Then I went back up the road to my GOV.

Although my savior had to leave to work on a house for his daughter, he did return in his truck when the Sheriffʼs office called him back to let me know that a big accident had taken all the deputies. And he left me a tarp under which to huddle if/when the rain came. (Now thereʼs a Good Samaritan, one of my favorite people of all time!) I paced up and down the roadside, adding perhaps six or eight thousand steps to my daily count, my mind wandering into sick realms of possibilities and dire fantasies (I had just watched Criminal Minds the previous night, on which the serial killer of the week made use of people being out of their usual patterns and comfort zones to kidnap, torture and eventually kill them — for instance).

Time does seem to expand under stress, and I couldnʼt read the dashboard clock through the tinted windows of the GOV, but I guessed that about an hour later a deputy showed up and very quickly, very professionally (even somewhat sympathetically) solved my problem for me. (I donʼt think he spent more than a minute performing the entry to the vehicle, while I was distracted, probably appropriately, with some paperwork to complete on his visit.)

I was on my way about a hundred minutes from the time I had last paid attention to the time. And I completed all my other trap replacements before conducting the GOV to the auto dealerʼs service entrance for its visit.

And that “service” situation is a whole ʼnother story, brethren and sistren.

* (its speedometer went awry as I drove it home originally from Des Moines a month ago, although it settled back into normal operation again within a day or two, and I just use my personal GPS device to provide my actual speed)

** The 911 operator scolded us, me in person, for using that number for my predicament — evidently not an emergency (a situation I had hesitantly anticipated). But neither of us, my rural savior nor me, had any idea what other number to call!

And, yes, the best I can guess, I actually tripped the lock myself, accidentally, when inserting my extendable pole from the rear hatch along the passenger side to the front. Now I make sure the pole tips downward as it passes along the side of the vehicle, and I also turn off the GOV and keep the keys on my person.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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