Friday, November 6, 2009
Always trouble when those two are together...
I've known "Mackey" for as long as I can remember. She has always been my mother's best friend and my other mother. She never had her own children and the joke is that she spent a couple months living with us while my mother was in another state for training and that after that she didn't want kids anymore. Well, it was mostly a joke.
It was not safe to let her and my mother go anywhere without supervision as they always got into some kind of trouble, some of which it's probably not safe to mention even here. ;-) Once they went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and didn't come home until several hours later after arresting the store owner for selling liquor to minors (they were both law enforcement).
When I was around age 10ish my mother decided that she wanted to build a garden with a rock wall. To do this she needed a lot of flat and wide rocks and she knew just which mountain to get them on. So she loaded up my little sister and I into the back of the Ford Ranger pickup truck (the bed, not back of the cab) and she and Mackey jumped into the front and off we went. At that time of year it was still snowing up there and the snow was a couple feet high in some places. She drove to the top of this mountain and turned around the truck. Then my little sister and I got out and put down the tailgate. She drove down the mountain at about 3-5 miles per hour as Lee and I ran behind grabbing snowy rocks (with our bare, unmittened hands) and tossing them into the back of the truck. Our hands were freezing and red but we did this for miles.
Eventually deciding that a ton of rock was enough (in a half-ton pickup, mind you) she allowed us to get back into the bed of the truck to ride back down the mountain. We were now sitting on a large pile of cold wet rocks with no heater. So we begged. We asked mom and Mackey to let us sit up front but the seat was only meant for 3 and so they said no. But we kept pounding on the window at regular intervals and asking again. Eventually we wore them down and they allowed us to get in the front.
We started down the mountain again and Lee and I started warming up. Then I noticed something funny on the hood. There was an orange spot on the hood of our green truck. And it was growing. I asked my mother why the hood was turning orange and she whipped the truck off the road and hit the brakes so fast I was wishing we'd had a fourth seat belt. She commanded us to immediately get out of the truck and run to the tree line as apparently the brakes were now on fire.
Mom and Mackey knew not to open the hood as they would only be feeding the fire a better supply of oxygen. But they had coffee cups and they threw the coffee up under the wheel well to try and douse the flames. Up in the trees Lee and I found a couple of discarded 7-11 cups and we ran down to use them to scoop up puddle water to help with the flames. We managed to put out the fire but now we were stranded on a snowy mountain, miles from help and behind the forest service gates, with a broken truck. And it was freezing and getting later in the afternoon.
Luckily a man came by on his bicycle. What he was doing up there I'll never know. My mother tried to yell to get his attention as he went right on by. Then she changed to yelling some very colorful words... As he got a few hundred feet past us he turned around and looked back. Then my mother recognized him as someone she had arrested a few months back (not sure what for). He hadn't responded because he's deaf and hadn't heard her yelling. He came back and we managed to communicate that we needed help and he should go to the forest service station for help.
Well, the station was closed (being a weekend) but I guess he managed to get a hold of someone who tried to call out the ranger on duty. Unfortunately, that was my mother who, of course, couldn't be reached. So they called the sheriff, who was my step-father. He had started to worry a couple hours ago when we hadn't returned on time like we were supposed to. Now he got a call about two women and a couple of children stranded on a mountain with a truck that had caught fire.
When he arrived the expressions he went through were completely priceless. At first he was all business. His face said "I'm the sheriff and I'm in charge here". Then he saw us. His face turned to immediate worry as he realized it was us and wanted to make sure everyone was okay. Then he saw that we were okay and his face turned to rage with an exclamation of "What the hell did you do to my truck!?!".
It turned out later that the brake pads for that year of Ranger pickup could be put in backwards and the shop had done just that. My mother swears that this is the reason that the truck caught on fire and not because she was driving down a mountain while carrying a ton of rock in a half-ton pickup and riding the brakes. I'll let you decide. Either way, we refused to help in any of her later rock wall projects.