So we get a call. A fortuitous and happy call saying, “Can Jasper do a photo-shoot for Gopher Sports on Wednesday afternoon? It’s 1 to 3pm and pays (some exorbitant amount) per hour. We take our 15 percent and he gets the rest. Minimum of two hours paid work.”
Well, sure. We can take an afternoon off of school to get the lad paid work in his preferred field. “Oh, yeah, it’s in Owatonna, is that going to be a problem? You get paid an extra $25 bucks for gas.” Mmmm, yeah… we’ll do it. Less enthusiastically, but we’ll do it.
I had kind of left Jasper’s modeling and acting career to Andy. He got all the pictures done, he went to most of the meetings with agencies, he did the movie with Jasper this past summer (Souvenirs, for the uninformed). But this time, he couldn’t do the drive and the shoot. I’d be the person driving to Owatonna and back. I hadn’t yet placed Owatonna on a map, but it kinda sounds like an outer-ring suburb of the Twin Cites, doesn’t it? It’s really not a suburb on the Twin Cities at all. It’s more like a suburb of Rochester or Albert Lea. It’s over an hour each way.
We agreed to do it anyway. I agreed to do it. Good think I got that Triple A membership over the weekend since I’d be driving out in the middle of nowhere. Also, good thing I now have googlemaps on my phone. It’s pretty much a GPS, especially when Jasper holds it and reads me directions. He watches the little dot on the purple path and tells me when we’re off the path. I’m kind of nervous about travel, which I know is no big secret. I left the Twin Cities with plenty of time to spare. We rolled into the Owatonna area about 20 minutes before we needed to be there. Good!
The directions said take a right at 24th Avenue. We were at 32nd Avenue and surrounded by farm fields and the occasional farm house. The road turned to gravel just ahead. My navigator asked me to pull over so the dot would have time to catch up with where I was. Sometimes the dot gets behind, especially when you do something it doesn’t anticipate, like leave the paved roads for example. I puled over to the shoulder. The road had been plowed, and the shoulder looked nice and wide, about 5 feet. Except for one thing: There was no shoulder. I felt something odd in the way the car leaned to the right.
Shit. I hit the gas. Nothing but the sound of spinning tires. Reverse. A tiny bit of movement, more settling of the car to the right. Drive. More spinning tires. Shit.
“Mom, are we stuck? Do you want me to get out and push?” I love my boy, and pound for pound, he’s incredibly strong. But he’s barely a hundred pounds. I directed him to get out and sprinkle salt under whichever tire was spinning. He sprinkled and I tried to rock, the car listing further and further to the right. I looked at the clock, it was 12:48. We were supposed to be on site in 12 minutes. I started to get panicky. The magical phone map said we were only 3.3 miles from Gopher sports.
How we could possibly be that close to anything was beyond me. We were in the middle of an empty tundra with just one house within sight. I got out of the car to assess the situation. Cold. It was cold.
I looked to see if we were getting close to traction under the front tires. The driver’s side tire was barely touching a slick of ice which just might eventually melt with salt and time. The passenger side of the car was another story. The front and rear tires were actually off the ground, sort of suspended over a snow-filled ditch. The snow was fluffy enough that when they plowed the road, it just smoothed over the top of the snow. It looked like packed snow, but it wasn’t, it was just a powdery illusion. The right side of my car was essentially hanging in the air, about 2 feet from ground level. The body of the car was resting mostly on the road. No amount of pushing in the world was going to get my car out of that ditch. Ok, now I was going to cry.
Nope. No crying. We could walk over to the little white house just up the road and ask for help. Maybe they’d know who could pull us out.
“Mom, I think that car back there is coming this way, maybe they can help us.” No way. But it was true. Another car on this god-forsaken stretch of road was a pretty decent sign, actually. I tried to look stuck, but not desperate or crazed. The car was driven by an Asian woman with her daughter in the passenger street. They pulled over and rolled down the passenger side window and surprised the hell out of me by asking for our help.
“Excuse me, do you know how to get to this address, Lemmond street?” I blinked and walked over to the car and looked at the googlemaps printout she held in front of her: Directions to Gopher Sports. Was this a dream? I blinked and looked through the car to the mom in the driver’s seat.