There are things I always thought were normal until I moved to the lower 48 and found out that the rest of the world finds them kind of crazy.
The other day my mom was driving from the big little town where my sister lives to the little village where she lives, which is on the road system. Coming around a corner, she saw a brown bear step out onto the shoulder of the road in front of her. She slowed down, made a big swerve around it, and was starting to accellerate again when there was a BANG! Flat tire. It was ten o’clock at night and she was 120 miles from home.
She pulled over and looked warily back at the bear. It didn’t seem interested, so she got out and went after her spare tire… except that it wouldn’t come down. Soon a guy driving by in a pick up pulled over. He couldn’t get the spare to come down either, but he did have cell phone reception, which is a rarity in that area. So my mom used his phone to call AAA.
They told her it would be a few hours before they could get to her. Having learned from my experience when I ran out of gas near a prison, she asked if she could be escalated because there was a bear poking around. She told them the approximate mile markers that she was between, and they asked what she was near. “Nothing,” she replied, “there’s nothing here but a bear.”
“Oh, well, are you near this or that village?” they asked.
“No, I’m two hours from the nearest place big enough to have a gas station.”
“Well, what are you near?” they wanted to know.
“Nothing. I’m in the middle of nowhere.” She gave them the approximate mile markers again.
“Well, can you walk up the road and see if there’s a specific mile marker?”
“Nooo…. I can see a mile marker, but there’s a bear by it and I’m not going over there.”
Finally they said they’d send a tow truck, but since she was two hours away from the nearest tow truck she expected it to be a while. Being my mother she had everything she needed to conk out on the side of the road, so she pulled out a blanket and went to sleep. She woke up once at three in the morning, and then again at six in the morning. That’s when she realized they might not be coming.
It was a while before another car came by and she flagged them down. Of course their cell phone didn’t work there either, so she wrote down the number for AAA, her confirmation number, and her husband’s phone number. Half an hour later another car and she sent them out into the world with another peice of paper. Four pieces of paper and four hours later she was still on the side of the road when a guy in an Official Alaska Worker Guy truck drove by and she flagged him down.
Being an Official Alaska Worker Guy, he had cell reception. She called AAA. They were shocked that she’d been on the side of the road for so long and got the tow truck people on the line. The tow truck people had been looking for her in the wrong place, but they were on their way now! In fact, they’d gotten a call from her husband a little bit ago and had already dispatched the truck.
She called her husband. “The release thingy on the spare tire didn’t work?” he asked.
“What release thing?”
“Well, never mind,” he said, “the tow truck guys on his way anyways.”
Mr. Official Alaska Worker Guy took off, and my mom sat on the side of the road communing with the plants. She’d eaten all the food she had in the van and she was starting to get a little hungry.
Soon another car stopped with a couple. This time they figured out how to get the tire down, but soon discovered that her spare didn’t actually fit on her car. Oh well, the tow truck’s on the way, right?
My mom chatted with the woman, who was so horrified about her being on the side of the road for so long that she was planning to lodge complaints with AAA and my mom’s husband!
Finally the tow truck showed up around one and got her back on the road again, after fifteen hours.
Only in Alaska.