Pleased to meet you
The folks who bring you this new publication may be new to many readers, so let me offer a little story to introduce myself – one I gave readers of our sister publication, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, more than 16 years ago.
One Sunday afternoon I found myself stopped alongside I-55 this side of Jackson. My wife, Sue, and I had spent the weekend visiting friends and were on our way home when we spotted a motorist with a flat tire.
I knew chances of getting help at the Vaughan exit were slim and none, so I braked to a stop.
The tire was more than flat: It had disintegrated, its tread peeling off in long strips and knocking off the trim and mirror on the driver-side door before the lady preacher from New Orleans, as she turned out to be, could get the car stopped.
The stranded driver was headed to a family reunion in Illinois with a year’s worth of gifts, her clothes and a Yukon winter’s worth of food. Underneath it all we found a donut tire thoughtfully provided by the manufacturer. I took it out, chocked the car and began changing out the wheels.
Before long a young man stopped to add his help to mine while my wife chatted with the lady driver. Working together, we two fellows soon had the donut bolted on and the necessaries back in the car.
The four of us joined hands and thanked God for the small inconvenience that allowed us to meet, and then it was time to go. I let the lady know I would put the rim and what was left of her old tire in my pickup and follow her to the next tire service place.
To ease the strain on my back, I hoisted the rubber-and-steel abstract art over my head and proceeded northward. Halfway to my truck, three disturbing thoughts presented themselves in rapid succession:
• “I forgot my belt.”
• “I’ve lost 55 pounds since these pants were new.”
• “I feel a breeze in unaccustomed places.”
I dropped the tire and grabbed for my pants – too late. There I stood, bent at the waist, semi-mooning God and every semi passing by.
It was the rare day that I had worn a black T-shirt and black jeans, and despite my recent weight loss, I was still a large, economy-sized human being. My wife, between her delicate, ladylike guffaws, snorts and horse laughs, said that looking at that expanse of pasty-white thighs and BVDs framed between dark-chocolate garments was like looking at a giant Oreo with Double Stuf™.
There had to be a lesson in such humiliation.
A cynic would say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
A more spiritual man than I might say, “Helping and humility are inseparable.”
A purely practical person would offer, “Don’t forget your belt next time.”
I’ve decided the best lesson was this: “When you meet new people, you may as well show them what you’re really like, because the real you is going to be exposed in the end.”
Errol Castens is a news writer for the Oxford Citizen and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com or (662) 816-1282, and follow him on Twitter at @oxfordcitizenec.