Dirty words are rarely considered good.
Despite that, I use dirty words a lot. (To my mother’s dismay) There are few who can dispute that. The other day, there came an instance where the dirtiest words I have were my repayment for a true act of humanitarianism. And I couldn’t be prouder of the fact. Here’s how I managed to use a random act of kindness to promote my writing and gain a new fan.
Everyone has shitty days.
Anything can make a person’s day turn from okay to utter crap in the span of, like, three seconds.
For me, the fact I’d just spent twelve of the worst hours possible with people I have nothing in common with was unpleasant but not horrible. It also wasn’t terrible that I was broke for another five days. (Although it wasn’t exactly a cup of tea, there’s Netflix, the public library, and tons of free shit to do in the city. Plus, of course, my writing.) Even that I needed a massage (anyone who knows about my car accident knows why this is vital) and couldn’t get in for one for another two weeks didn’t make the day awful.
What was the capper, you ask? A flat fucking tire. But, wait, there’s more.
A flat tire sucks, yes. I had a spare, however. A “donut” tire isn’t the most reliable means of transportation but it does in a spot. I could replace the tire. Inconvenient financially but not ridiculous.
I limped the car out of rush hour traffic into a gas station. I lifted the spare, jack, and tire iron out of the trunk and set to the half crank, just enough to raise pressure off the tire so I could loosen the lug nuts. Then I inserted the tire iron and – TWIST! – found the tire iron is too large for the lug nuts. Fuck. A man asked if I’d like help. Thinking I’m defective, I let him have a go.
TWIST! Nothing. The tire iron really was too large.
From crummy to crappy.
Rain isn’t so bad. It’s just water. Normally I’d agree. But I live in Arizona. We get a grand total of two feet of rain a year. Two feet of rain isn’t much when you consider it. But, when you live in the desert, you get all two feet within the span of, oh, four days.
My flat tire day was one out of four.
The skies opened, rain poured for about twenty minutes, then the sky cleared, leaving me and my would-be rescuer wet. I was left wet, broke, tired, irritated, and had a flat tire. But, wait, there’s more.
Honestly good people, and crappy people.
My would-be rescuer (Jason is his name) proceeded to spend the next hour asking every person who rolled into the station if we could try their irons. I called my partner to see if he could arrange a ride to my location and bring a borrowed iron, but he was going to be a long time in coming since we were broke and no one was off work. Two dozen plus people were asked for assistance in the parking lot. Most didn’t bother to look (most of them sporting brand new, or only a year or two old, vehicles. So I call bullshit they didn’t have a spare and a jack with tire iron).
They weren’t the worst though. The terrible people were the ones who said “Just let me fill up my gas, and I’ll come over and try.” Once their tanks were full, they drove off, leaving us wet, broke, and having every tool I needed to help myself except one. Those people were the dicks. The real reason my day went from crummy to shitty.
Then there was Jason who, despite having more important things to do with his time, despite having little more than two nickels to rub together, in need of a job and on the hunt, and without a permanent place to live, spent over an hour trying to get me help.
The person who had the least had the most to give in my time of need.
Getting to know my rescuer.
Jason and I talked a lot while we worked. I learned the details I’ve already imparted. During our talk, even with his troubles, he rarely stopped smiling, wishing only for a little break so he could work for something better. As I’ve said, I didn’t have much to give but I did have knowledge. A small place I pass by almost daily (a day labor place is all it really is, but work is work) had signs out front looking for help. I told him about it, and he agreed to arrange transport.
By this point, we’d been rejected by twenty-eight people. Yes, that’s 28 people who are dicks.
Never judge a book…
Enter Xavier, a young college-aged kid in a nice car.
When Jason said he was asking that guy for help, I was dubious. I mean, we’d been turned down by dozens of people already. The ‘poor snob’ in me saw the somewhat preppy looking kid in his nice, new car and thought he’d never help out a person like me in my shabby (and I ain’t talking chic) car. To my surprise, Xavier popped his trunk right at the pump, helped Jason dig out his tire iron, and let Jason take it to work on my tire while he finished gassing up.
And the damned thing FIT!!
After fueling, the young guy came over. Jason was putting the final tightening on the tire, and I was almost ready to go (having called off my partner and his ride when we found the iron worked). I didn’t have anything to give but my gratitude to Xavier, who told me he only expected me to pay it forward, accepted his tire iron, and took off to whatever destination.
Jason helped load the tire and jack and, worthless, iron in my trunk. I still didn’t have anything to give.
In the trunk I’d found a copy of one of my anthologies – Quixotic: Not Every Day Love Stories. It had wiggled under the trunk liner, into the crevice where the spare is kept. I remembered the copy. I had it at the 2012 Fright Night convention. I’d spilled tea or coffee on it after signing it. When I’d gotten home from the trip and picked up my car (I’d borrowed my sister’s nice, shiny one), I’d tossed it in the trunk, keeping it separate from the promo merch. There, I’d forgotten about it and it buried itself.
Jason and I had talked about my three jobs. I hadn’t talked about my books though. I was flustered and irritated and mentioning my art right then wasn’t forefront in my mind. Now it was. Now I had something to repay his kindness.
I offered the book and explained the deplorable condition. Normally I’d never let anyone have that copy; it was bent, crumpled, and stained. But that day I had nothing to give but my less than pretty, less than ideal, dirty words – in both verbal and written forms. That day I was happy and proud to repay a true act of kindness with dirty words.