For the last nine days, I rode shot-gun – figuratively. I accompanied a friend who drove from a Northern State to Florida in order to find a place in which she planned to retire. In all, we (she did 98% of the driving) covered over 3500 miles from start to finish. My primary job was to look for route numbers, street names and “For Sale” signs which I did with modest success. Fortunately, my friend is a great driver who can turn on a dime and/or make “K” or “U” turns with dexterity. We traversed nine cities/towns through six states. In some places we stopped at a realty agent; in others, we drove up and down residential sections and/or down-town areas. In a few towns, we took advantage of “open houses” and examined interiors. This trip was part of my friend’s year or more planning for a move that she hoped would be her last. Like so many retirees she was looking for a stable, environmentally safe, culturally interesting town with low real estate taxes. I went along for the adventure. What actually occurred was twofold: my friend learned where she did not want to live; she and I felt that a “Higher Power” was looking out for two old ladies that had no business being on the road.
On the first day on the road, about five hours out, the heavens opened. In spite of the fact that we began to see several fender benders along the side of the road, my friend drove on. At one point, I saw a bright light on the horizon and stated that I thought that the worst would soon be over. My friend who grew up in the mid-west knew differently. When the fuel began to run low, we pulled into a station to refuel the car and ourselves. The rain showed no signs of letting up as we pulled out of the gas station. A few miles later, we saw huge trees downed; a little later, a smashed car. My friend drove on in spite of the evidance that a tornado had just passed through. After seven hours of driving in the pouring rain, we pulled into a motel, safe and sound.
That was just the beginning. Two days later, as we slept at the time share from which we would visit several towns in the vicinity within the next few days, at a bar right on the grounds of the time share, a domestic dispute resulted in the shooting death of a man by a man in a near-by unit. The incident was on the news that morning, along with news of a sink-hole appearing in the next town on our list.
As the old adage says, “Bad news comes in threes.”, we thought that we had met our quota of near misses. On the way back at dusk on the eighth day, my friend said that she saw lighting ahead. A few seconds later, I saw it too. I settled back thinking, “Here we go again”, when much to my surprise, my friend decided to pull into a motel for the night. We left the TV on as we prepared to settle down for the night. The meteorologists advised all travelers to get off the roads as the coming storm would produce hail stones the size of golf and/or base balls. They were right. There is another adage that states, “God looks out for little children and drunks.” I think that he looks out for old ladies too.