One Sunday I was driving to Rock Springs WY from Lander. I was set to preside and preach at 10:30 AM – 2 hours from my home. In those days I was helping Holy Communion Episcopal Church during the time they were without a priest in residence. I would make this trip twice a month and be available for consultation by phone the rest of the time. They are what I call a “cat church”- happy to take care of their own lives and look after one another, organize study groups, run the thrift shop, have parties, and support each other in personal hard times but not needing much other than affection and communion from me.
As I drive across the continental divide over South Pass, I am wondering about my great grandmother who came to Oregon on a covered wagon as a girl and thinking about our paths were crossing so many years later. Suddenly my right rear tire shredded. No traffic either direction – just the long high plateau road over the Rocky Mountains as I pulled of on the shoulder. So there I am, in a no cell service zone (so no AAA for me), standing in my Sunday best clergy duds by the side of my Outback with its little emergence tire, directions for changing the tire in one hand and tire iron in the other, the tiny jack sitting on the ground. I have not changed a tire since my father made me learn before he would let me drive. At least the persistent wind had died down and it was not snowing.
Struggling to get the jack placed properly to raise the tire off the ground and loosen the lug nuts, a pickup truck passes me – full speed+ – as we go out there in the land of no traffic and straight roads. Suddenly is stops, turns around – and pulls up by me. His wife and I sit in the pickup while he makes short work of changing the tire with his full sized jack and oil rigger muscles. His wife says- “I told him – you have to stop – there is a woman changing her tire and she’s in dress!”
Job done- I am on my way to church – I make it just in time to join the procession! I tell them I had met the Good Samaritan and he is an oil rig worker named Tom. My stereotypes about his work and who does it had fallen away. All the images of “hard living, hard drinking, dirty, raid the earth riggers” of my imagination were challenged as he and his wife were neighbor to me.