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Angels Wear Plaid

By @S F Brooke

Angels Wear Plaid

Angels Wear Plaid

Six hours. Six hours into the road trip I was fine. Six and a half hours, I was not. Driving slow had never been my strong suit, especially after I got the chance to drive across the country to start my new semester at college. Looking back, I liked the power of driving fast; that was ultimately my downfall. Packing my bags in my red Honda, I took off for the interstate and didn’t look back. Music blaring, 90’s country songs were the only thing I played on road trips, snacks beside me in the passenger seat, and a sea of green fields blurred by as I made my way down the highway. There was mild traffic, enough to make me change a few lanes out of irritation and when some jerk cut me off, I immediately started mumbling under my breath, and with a rev of the engine I decided to change lanes despite not fully seeing what was around the large truck that had cut me off….and that’s when the large piece of plastic hit my car. I physically jumped as the piece hit the underside of my car with a harsh garbled sound, lifting up in my seat because that was going to help lift the car up a little. Wincing, I turned down Alan Jackson and started thinking, “Okay, Taylor, you’re about an hour from the nearest rest stop…turning on a two-way highway….by yourself.” I let out a breath, trying not to be nervous at the fact that that huge piece of plastic could have damaged my car ruining the transmission, the oil, or my A/C, a number of bad ideas popped into my head, and my stomach became twisted with nerves. Following my GPS, I knew I had about an hour more of driving before I even came close to the next rest stop or gas station. Setting my nerves to the side, I had no choice but to pray and hope I could make it there without having to pull over. Checking my phone, while trying to drive still, I looked at the level of cell bars on my phone. Barely two. Dang it. 

“Lord, please help me. Keep me safe.” I asked, knowing I shouldn’t have grumbled so harshly about the previous driver cutting me off. The highway turned into a two-way road, fields of grape vines on one side while open green fields blurred by on the other. I wouldn’t have anywhere to pull over for a while….

Trying to return to normalcy, I turned my radio back on and switched between worrying about my car and how long it would take to get to a rest stop and singing my heart out to Dolly Parton’s Jolene. About half an hour later, the road started making slight dips, waves of asphalt that made me drive slower than I wanted. The music was low enough that when I hit the crest of the hill, I heard a small scraping. Turning off the music immediately, I leaned forward over the steering wheel as I drove. Brushing my brown hair behind my ears, I tried to listen intently to what I hoped I was imagining. Starting to pray again as I heard the scraping that was happening, my heart in my throat, I slowed my speed and hoped that it wasn’t anything too serious. Checking my gas, letting out a breath of relief at the full tank, I focused on making it the last few miles to the rest stop. It was busy, full of semi-trucks, and a constant stream of people getting gas and stopping at the small nut and fruit shop further down the way. The scraping got louder as I slowed my speed and made my way into one of the parking spots on the far end of the rest stop. 

I’ll be honest, I was nervous. I was a twenty-two-year-old woman, alone, without much cell service, and a car that just got wrecked. I had a small knife in my backpack, but it wouldn’t do much if something was to happen. My palms became damp as I parked the Honda and got out to examine the damage. I inhaled sharply when I turned my brown eyes towards the front of my car. Putting a hand over my mouth I sent up a thankful prayer as I squatted down – my entire right headlight had popped out and was dragging on the road. Grabbing a spare towel from my trunk, I kneeled down and slapped and hammered my light back into its spot. It still looked connected and my brain hoped that I didn’t cause more damage as I pushed it back into the place it was supposed to go. Looking under my car, I hoped that there wasn’t any further damage. 

Wrinkling my nose at the smell of oil and metal, my gaze didn’t have to travel far before I saw lots of plastic hanging off the bottom. Rubbing my forehead with the back of my hand, I laid down on my side on the hot asphalt and pulled a little at the plastic. From what I could tell the entire undercarriage of my Honda started falling off after I had run over that large debris on the road. Standing up, I wiped my black dirty hands on my blue jeans as I bit my lip in thought. There wasn’t much I knew about cars, I knew the basics, but I wasn’t sure if I could drive another few hours like this. Standing in front of my car, I simply stood there in confusion and worry as I thought about what I should do. Half of my mind was praying while the other half was trying to figure out my next step. 

“Do you need some help?” Came a voice that made me startle. A large white truck had pulled in near my car, and an older Hispanic man with sunglasses was in the driver’s seat. 

Swallowing my nerves, I answered, “I actually think I do.” 

He nodded and pulled his truck into the spot next to mine. He got out of his car and pulled on a rough blue plaid shirt over his white t-shirt so he didn’t ruin the shirt. 

“I managed to hit a pretty big piece of plastic on my drive up,” I explained as he crouched down and looked at the damage. My hand itched to grab my purse, just in case, but I also knew I needed help. 

He nodded as he checked out the bottom of my car, “I can see. We’ll have to take off this plastic if you want to drive further, it could pop your tires.” His voice was kind, although slightly accented but uncondescending. “I have a knife in my truck so I can cut it away.” 

Bitting my thumbnail, I watched him grab a small box cutter from his backseat before he went back to look under the car. “I can still drive though?” 

His voice was muffled as he cut away at the undercarriage, “Yeah, you’ll be fine to continue.” 

“Okay, good,” I replied as I paced a little, watching as more and more plastic got removed. My eyes widened as a part of the undercarriage came away with some fluffy white lining and I let out a squeak of concern but the man helping didn’t seem fazed so I kept quiet. 

After the rest of the plastic came away, all tossed to the side, the man stood up and brushed off his large dirty hands on his jeans. “You should be good now, just drive a little more carefully.” He said with a teasing smile. 

Giving a small laugh I nodded, smiling with thanks. I was grateful that he’d decided to help, especially since I wasn’t sure if I would’ve known what to do. There was a sense of relief that I could continue my trip, albeit probably slower but still. There weren’t many people around which made this man’s kindness even more impactful. He didn’t give me any bad vibes, he didn’t make me feel threatened and had barely looked at me but instead had directly gone to try to fix my car. I felt I had to do something in thanks, “Can I pay you, sir? Thank you so much for helping.” 

He shook his head, stopping for a moment to look me in the eye. “You don’t have to pay me at all, I’m glad I could help.” 

Our eyes held as I reached out to shake his hand, “Well, I’m extremely grateful.” 

The man held out his hand to shake but when I grabbed it, my fingers completely fazed him. Inhaling sharply and stifling a gasp my gaze shot back up to the man. 

“Looks like someone is looking out for you.” He replied, winking as he got back into his truck. “God bless.” 

I was too stunned to say anything. I watched him climb into his car and drive away, keeping an eye on the white truck until it went over the hill. Blinking in astonishment, I let out a sound of disbelief, “Huh, Angels wear plaid. Who knew?” Shaking my head, I let out a laugh and got back into my car. Praying a whispered word of thanks, I turned into the ignition and started back on the road. 

The End

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