A personal encounter: Did I miss a shot or dodge a bullet?

My summertime routine for going to town in the middle of the week, a relatively rare practice, is to drive the Jeep to the county road and then take my ebike the rest of the way. This is, admittedly, a fairly eccentric thing to do even by cedar rat standards. And since I don’t bother hiding the Jeep, it raises occasional comment. It’s perfectly obvious why I do that, and so I’m basically announcing to my tiny corner of the world that Joel Doesn’t Have A Driver’s License.

Nobody speculates aloud in my presence about the reason for that, but I can guess what they’re guessing: Joel must be an unrepentant drunk with some DUIs on his record. In fact that’s not the case: I’ve never driven (very far) drunk in my life and I have no criminal record of any kind. But I’m a little sensitive about drawing attention, even the benevolent kind. I’m also neurotic about any involvement with any woman I don’t know well. My social record proves that I should never trust myself to know how to behave around strange women.

What do those two things have in common? Well…

Yesterday I went to town in the morning to pick up my pistol’s new electronic sight. I went straight there and straight back and I had just finished strapping the bike to the rack when a small sunbleached car pulled up next to the Jeep, from the direction of the desert, with the driver clearly wanting a word.

The driver was an older woman, somewhat weatherbeaten as who wouldn’t be but actually rather attractive. She asked if I wanted a ride to town*, and I replied that I had just come from there but thanks very much.

Then she asked, quite out of the blue, if I wanted her telephone number so that I could call her for a ride in the future if need be.

Alarm bells and klaxons! A list of possibilities was instantly composed, typeset, printed, bound and opened to page one before my mind’s eye:

1) She’s just a nice person who’s being more kind than is really good for her.
2) She’s an obnoxious temperance missionary.
3) She’s looking for a hookup with an unattractive total stranger. (TL/DR: She’s crazy.)
4) She wants something else, TBD but don’t get involved.

Desert folks can be, well, eccentric. Most of the ones I know are perfectly nice people. The ones who aren’t are why I bar my cabin’s doors at night.

I thanked her kindly and said no, I just rode my bike into town for fun. And then we went our separate ways with smiles and waves. I’ll probably never see her again.

And I drove home to play with my pistol’s new sight, wondering very hard what the galloping f*ck was that all about?

*Sidebar: It occurred to me later that this is why I love it here: I had taken off my ‘going to town’ overshirt and so my magnificent cedar rat panoply was naked to the world. I’m a short squat desert hermit in worn dirt-colored clothing with a rag tied around my head and a bunch of aggressive shit strung from my belt, and a woman I’ve never seen before in my life stops unbidden and asks if I want a ride.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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19 Responses to A personal encounter: Did I miss a shot or dodge a bullet?

  1. Kentucky says:

    Somehow . . . somehow . . . I’ll bet she shows up again. Klaxons, indeed.

  2. Terrapod says:

    Being almost as suspicious as J, I would do some careful private asking around to see if anyone knows where this lady is from. If local, someone will know something and she may just be a friendly soul.

    If not local, then indeed alarm bells and questioning what is going on, one can’t be too careful with all them Californistanians moving out of that state, some of em are just downright strange. My daughter in Chandler is always going on about Calis and Mexes moving in, with strange behavioral practices.

  3. George says:

    or 5. She knew who you were (kind of a friend of a friend type thing) and assumed you knew who she was, because she lives in the area. Still kind of strange, but “there’s Joel, the guy with the yellow Jeep who’s always helping people” is a lot different than “There’s some guy that looks kind of rough on the side of the road, lets talk to him.”

  4. Mark Matis says:

    Did you get her license plate number?

  5. Claire says:

    I’m going for “habitual helpfulness of people who live in environments that can quickly kill” coupled with “Yeah, that’s Joel. I don’t know him, but everybody says he’s a good guy.”

    Also, you’re not all that short.

  6. Eh…whats the worst that could happen? See what happens.

  7. Joel says:

    Claire and George: I must admit that the possibility she knew who I am never once occurred to me.

  8. Robert says:

    If she gives you her number, it leads to the expectation that she will get your number. Which could lead to things very bad or very good.
    “naked short squat dirt-colored aggressive shit” Joel, dude! Face it: you’re a chick magnet!

  9. Mark Matis says:

    If only you had Tobie with you!

  10. Aaron S says:

    Well I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona…

  11. Kentucky says:

    I’m with Terrapod . . . check her out quietly with the other locals. Ya just never know.

  12. boynsea says:

    It’s a girl, my lord!, in a flatbed Ford,

    Thanks, AAron, I’ll have that ‘ear worm’ running all evening now.

    Joel: Proceed with caution, but optimistically.

  13. John of the GMA says:

    Aw, jeez, Joel. I’m as paranoid as a senior member or the Polibureau but come on. Think about it. There’s probably no one for a twenty kilometer radius who doesn’t either know you or knows of you. (one way or another.) (Okay,summer complaints excepted.) Maybe,just *maybe*, all other things aside, she was just trying to be nice, and:/ or trying to be friendly. Even a hermit needs friends.

  14. “Women have been my trouble since I found out they weren’t men.”
    Waylon Jennings

    How do porquipines and desert hermits pitch woo?

  15. Anonymous says:

    FOMCL and ROTF

  16. Goober says:


    I would suggest something else as a possibility… You underestimate the extent to which small, even remote communities have a local scuttlebutt. You, being inclined towards hermitage, might not take part in it as much as many others do, but it really exists. For example, is it possible that one of the many neighbors that you help on a regular basis has described you to someone as “the quiet, kind, helpful guy that lives near us” and that the scuttlebutt of a kind, quiet, keeps-to-himself-but-is-a-pretty-square-guy (oh, yeah and he has a prosthetic leg so he’s pretty easy to identify) to someone else in the neighborhood, and that story about you reached this woman, and that, to make a short story painfully long, she actually knows who you are? Maybe never met you, but likely knows your name and knows a bit of your story?

    I know you don’t necessarily like to consider yourself disabled, but if she knows who you are, knows that you’re a good dude, and sees a one-legged man riding his bike into town, perhaps she really was just trying to be nice to what she sees as a disabled man that might need her help.

    And if she knows you through mutual acquaintances, it’s not really as big a leap of faith as you might think that she stopped to ask if you needed help.

    Also, consider that you may have run into a friend of the blog?

    I know it’s hard to believe, but there really are people out there that just want to help, with no strings attached.

  17. Goober says:

    I guess I should read the other comments before posting. Sorry to beat a dead horse…

  18. Anonymous says:


  19. Joel says:

    Oh Joel what? 😉

To the stake with the heretic!