I’m away for a week between roles in a cabin in New Hampshire. As you may know, big layoffs happened at my company on Friday. I was not laid off. My previous role was extremely vulnerable – the group I left was one of the hardest hit. And I know a ton of people impacted, so I’ve spent this week not in blissful disconnection, but checking in with the person who worked for me last Friday and is now unemployed, trying to figure out who I still work with and who might need me to keep an eye for roles, etc.
I picked this PARTICULAR cabin in the woods because I wanted to hike two four thousand foot mountains (Waumbek and Cabot), and these are a full three hour drive for Boston, which is a brutal one day trip. So I figured I’d knock them off (they’re not too difficult) while I was up here. But I’ve done … something …. to my knee. I think I have a meniscus tear (in my problem knee) which is causing instability and swelling. I’m having trouble with stairs. Did I still consider solo hiking a pair of 4000 foot mountains alone, in winter, with a bum knee? Of course I did. But the weather is also rather iffy, and that was one strike too many. So instead I went and did a super easy, completely flat 4 miles walk along a rail trail. Laaaaaame. The parking lot was snowy, but that was fine – our car was in the shop due to a rear ending that my husband was subject to, so I rented a 4 wheel drive just so trailheads would be no issue. I got in just fine, and did a lovely walk in which I saw no other living creature. It was gloomy and morose and like hiking in an old oil painting. I loved it. I got back to the car, texted my husband I was safe, and headed to the road to go get some dinner in the building gloom.
Less than a foot from the road, I lost traction, and got stuck. “No problem,” I thought “I’ll throw it into 4 wheel drive.” It didn’t work. I dug out the wheels with my hands. Didn’t work. And every attempt to power my way out I slid a little closer to the 8 foot ditch to my right side, where I would definitely be in trouble if I slid all the way in. A light snowfall was poetically falling against the pines, and I finally conceded my better judgement and called AAA. I told them where I was (thank you GPS!) and they patched me through to the towing company which said they’d be here in an hour. So I waited, increasingly hungry and in need of a bathroom, for an hour. At the appointed time, the dispatcher called me back and drawled. “We’ve gone the whole airport road in Jefferson, and we can’t find you at all.” “I’m at the Pondicherry parking lot, just shy of the Mt. Washington Airport” I replied.
There was a long pause.
“Which state are you in?” she asked. I replied, with growing unease “New Hampshire”. “Awww…. honey, we’re out of North Carolina. I’ll, uh, call AAA for you.”
I sat there in my car, waiting for a phone call (which never came), when a car pulled over – an old silver Ford Taurus by the look of it. “Are you stuck?” said the driver? I assured her I was, and darkly updated her on my predicament. “I’m going to call my boyfriend and he’s got a truck. He’ll get you right out of there.” Now normally I like to do things the proper way, but in this case, I said I’d be delighted if her boyfriend might be of assistance. It took maybe 20 minutes for them to assemble the full posse. The ladies in the car stayed with me the whole time. But two trucks, packed to the gills with young men with nascent beards and overflowing slightly dangerous energy, pulled up. In less than five minutes they had me out of that ditch and back in action. I think they were disappointed they didn’t end up needing the chain or shovels that they’d brought for the fun.
But it was 3 hours after I’d first stopped a foot shy of the road. I attempted to pay them, which was a complicated social dance, and then was on my way, chastened, sobered and deeply irritated that even my very safest possible alternative had still ended up being so complicated. I was also very grateful that only time had been lost: I was fine, the car was fine, it was like it had never happened. So I picked up some heat-and-eat from the grocery store right before it closed, came back to my cabin, and decided what I really needed was some comforting reading (Miss Buncle’s Book was just right) and maybe a new plan for roadside assistance.