You know how at Camp for a whole week we gaze in grateful joy upon the glorious surrounding countryside, with SAMW standing proudly in the middle of it, wishing we would never have to leave. Bury me here!
But leaving time inevitably comes. At the close of Week II this year I asked Dick where he was headed first and he says Jojo’s for coffee and I’m like they have French roast at the Irving station on 25 in Moultonboro where I’m going for gas, and he says the lighter roast is what he wants anyway so we all say ‘bye and thanks and stuff and drive away. Sigh.
While I was filling ’er up at the pump, along came Dick to get his gas – and some coffee! – and it was a very pleasance, as we used to say, to see him. But all of a sudden, somehow in a blur of confusion, Lorraine and I got locked out of our car. There’s this stupid lock button on the driver’s side door handle that is easy to push without being aware of it, and I must have brushed it – that’s all it needs – when I got back out of the car for some now forgotten purpose.
So my keys are in the ignition, Lorraine’s are in her bag on the front seat, next to the cell phone, and all our instruments, along with the left-over snack foods, are beginning to bake at 400° in the back. The doors won’t open. I’m standing there with a full thermos of hot coffee ( light roast after all, wouldn’t you know ), gaping idiotically at my mug in its little holder in the locked car. I’m acutely aware that I’m only ten short minutes into the artificial nightmare that calls itself the real world, and already I’m a hapless, bumbling incompetent.
Anyway, thank God Dick was there! He lent us his cell phone, and he stayed there with us, too, holding our hand, for the entire ordeal. We called our emergency number, and after losing the connection once or twice, we eventually talked to an agent ( in Calcutta, as it happens ), who guaranteed us a wrecker within the hour.
Oddly enough, exactly one metric hour, or approximately 96.3437 avoirdupois minutes later there was still no wrecker. After another long hold on Dick’s phone we were promised that help was truly on the way, but told they were stuck in traffic somewhere. We found out later that in fact the Indian Office had sent ’em to the wrong place: an Irving station on Route 25, all right, but down in Center Harbor, a little more than mile and a whole world away, where they had apparantly been for a while. They can hardly have been looking for us all that time, so maybe they were waiting for us.
Seriously, the fellas in the wrecker were from Laconia, and if they hadn’t known that the convenience store and pizza shop in Moultonboro on 25 where we languished had become an Irving station in the previous week, how could those folks in India have known it? Just because the client claims to be within sight of Moultonboro Neck Road it does not necessarily mean a thing. You know how unreliable the eye-witness can be.
But the wrecker did arrive, and having scolded us for giving them the wrong address the men did unlock our car – in about half a minute, using a plastic wedge, a blood-pressure cuff and a long thin stick. Half a minute after that and we were back on the road. It was lunch time and beyond, so we drove straight to the Riverside creamie stand in Ashland, home of the world’s biggest and best lobster roll, and I’m not kidding about that.
If “ World Class ” means good enough to serve anyone anywhere, that’s what the Riverside’s lobster roll is. Lorraine always gets her lobster roll there. Me, I usually have a coupla dogs, some fries (well done) and a root beer, followed by a waffle cone creamie ( Northcountry for soft-serve ice cream. ), and that’s good, too, if you like it.
From there we moseyed on, somewhat glassy-eyed but uneventfully to Concord for the traditional pit-stop at Borders and more coffee to fuel the last long haul home to Brookline. The car unloaded, I went right to my desk to begin writing this account, trying to recall in the sweet cool of the evening how it felt for a while in the brutal midday sun when we were refugees waiting for rescue, like some land-bound boat-people aground on a storm-stern rock in a sea of trees.
And trying to recall how for a while I had glared in dreadful gloom upon the glorious surrounding countryside, with my car standing sheepishly in the middle of it, impatient to get the Hell out of there, six miles from where I had so recently wanted never to leave.