Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wrong Turn

The other day, I got a wee bit lost in an area of Savannah that I did not know well. I don't know how many of you have explored downtown Savannah, but if you go over a few streets in certain directions, the safety of the streets seems to deteriorate quickly. There are several streets with huge houses, beautiful yards with wonderful trees and then two streets over it looks like, well, another city. Rugged and dirty with people trapped in another existence.

Anyway, I took a wrong turn, turning right instead of left, and several minutes later, I sort of lost where I was. I don't have the best direction skills, but I know the streets I have traveled on for years.

Anyway, I see this old gas station and I go in to ask for directions. The first thing I noticed was that the pumps were old – no credit card swiping at this station. Normally I avoid these gas stations. I would rather swipe a card than enter a gas station. I always think of gas stations like convenience stores – you know, a place where the cashier probably has seen a weapon or two and may even have been shot at.

I enter this dimly lit station, and immediately I see several people inside. People that look like life has treated them hard. There are people that look as if they have control of things, and people who look like the environment controls them – these fell into the latter category. My first instinct was to exit the building quickly, get in my car, and lock the doors. Then drive off, lost. But instead, I mustered up my courage and asked for directions. When I am scared, I normally want to look like I am in control, swinging my arms with authority, and seem as if I know the area well. Instead, I was timid, brushing my hair behind my ears and asking meekly for directions – not much of a hard ass.

As I was asking the clerk, who looked kinder than any of the patrons, a dirty man stood uncomfortably close behind me, waiting to buy a large beer that would inevitably find its way into a brown bag. I looked back at him – and his skin looked more grey from dirt than anything – hence the description as "dirty".

Then another very large and somewhat younger man looked at me, stared at me, and opened his mouth. I wanted to bolt for the door, but the large man said, "Frank, get the hell away from the little lady. Mind your manners." Instantly, I felt as if there was some sort of code – that some skinny white woman gets a pass at getting hit on in this store. At least when the large man is around. I got my directions and left the store.

Afterwards, I thought this little scene is sort of like life. I mean, occasionally we get lost and don't know where to go. We can ask for help, if we are brave enough to, but it takes more courage than normal. And sometimes other people help us find our way. Sometimes they don't even realize how helpful they have been. There are kind people in the world who will help us. And there are others who can give us direction. All we have to do is ask.


Speakin' my mind said...

I think I know that area...kind of over the tracks, past the white motel, by the causeway?

Your analogy is great. I really enjoy reading your blog and will be back.

FYI - I used to live south of Savannah from '94 - '98. I can prove it too. Is "Hip Huggers" still around?

May I link you?

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Very true....I'm still kind of looking for that person to give me directions...have you seen 'em lately??? Whoever they are, they're late!!! I'm not getting any younger here, dammit!

Sounds like that was a scary scene at the gas station...and I'm the same way you are. I want to come off acting all "in control" but it never turns out that way. And it's terrible really...because The PK says I can get lost in a phonebooth (which is true). I hate it!

Makes me seriously consider taking those concealed weapons permit classes....;)

~Deb said...

Hmm…I hope I’m reading this correctly. (I apologize if I am misreading this) But I think the man who told the man to get out of the way for the ‘little lady’ was ‘his way’ of being nice and being a gentleman, which is SO rare. Come to New York, and find yourself in a whole different atmosphere where no one will fight for you honor or have another man move aside for you.

People are so different. I think it’s great- but sometimes when we fear a certain situation or…in this case, fear a certain type of person…they can smell that…they smell the fear, so they get defensive sometimes.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but you also can’t let your guard down.

Love the way you wrote this! Always entertaining!

Jenny said...

I love this post, Leesa. You have a great way of looking at life.

Leesa said...

speaking: you can link to me.

stacy: yeah, scary but inciteful, if you know what I mean.

~deb: you are reading it right, ~deb. I almost never let down my guard. Well, I guess I do once my panties hit the floor. But you know what I mean.

jenny: thanks.

Bud said...

always nice to see and hear about niceness in the midst of such situations. Gives me hope. Thanks.

JD said...

great post once again. i've been lost in Savannah, and know just what you mean. i guess it's the starkness of the contrast. one minute you're driving around ante-bellum mansions right out of Gone with the wind, the next you're in a 3rd world country, or almost. the one with manners was obviously from an earlier generation where you still respected women. too bad we've lost that mostly, both white and black.

Puffin said...

ROFL - The Star Trek reference yesterday made me giggle, but that laast paragraph was so Jean-Luc Piccard it's not funny.

Piccard: Ensign Crusher, sometimes our Universe isn't quite as it seems.
Wesley: But Captain Piccard, Isn't it better to seem that you are in control of your Star ship at all times?
Piccard: You see Wezzzley, Just because we stopped to ask the Vulcans for directions to Nigel-5 doesn't show a sign of weakness. It shows a sign of trust. Now if we had stopped to ask the Ferengi for directions, they would surely have stolen our hubcaps.

Grant said...

Fortunately, as a man I don't have to do your girly ask for directions thing - I can just use brute force to get what I want.

Yeah! Guys rule! :p

halo said...

Ohh Leesa, Im enamoured with this post. Beautifully written and such a glorious snapshot into a moment in your life. Just beautiful..

Christian said...

This post is touching in it's attempt at finding meaning in a life event, and nicely composed. It's also maddening and illustrative of a deep cultural divide in its charcterization of the fear inherent in cross cultural/ cross racial interaction.
I trust and hope for a day when being a skinny white woman among people of a different color is a non-factor in the process of interfacing with fellow humans.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Great post. You are such an amazing writer and storyteller.


Leesa said...

bud: you are welcome

jd: exactly concerning the houses. And I did not mention it because it didn't matter to the story, but the big guy was black. My big guardian angel that day.

puffin: what line? Piccard was yummy! Sorry, off topic.

grant: yeah, but we sort of get even with the multiple orgasm thingie.

muse: thanks, sweetie. Actually, when I was writing it, it just sort of happened.

christian: the differences were not really one of different colors. More of different economic situations. I am blandly middle class, and the people in this store were just getting by. But the racial problems do exist, and I really think things are getting better. Problem is, the problem was soooooo bad that we have so far to go.

dr. ~deb: thanks, sweetie.

Rob said...

See Leesa, that's why us guys NEVER ask for directions -- we're afraid of what some dirty old man might do to us and WE can't count on some young, fat guy protecting our honor! ;-)

Seriously, this was an AMAZING post, both in terms of WHAT you had to say and HOW you said it! Just a delightful combination of insightful commentary and engaging prose! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog!

Now, tell me more about how you let your guard down when your panties hit the floor... ;-)

Speakin' my mind said...

Leesa - thank you.

~deb - I beg to differ about the comment in your first paragraph. Just today at lunch I saw a man help a woman fend off another man that was trying to pull something out of her hand. She was asking for help and she did receive escort to her destination, too.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Check out my next post that I just put up today.


Monica said...

Leesa, Great pluse quickened..
I hate having to ask for anything from anyone, and especially in that situation...I'd have tucked my hair too...and straightened my cardigan---a lot.
Glad you're back (and not lost)

Heather said...

Glad you found your way home.. unless you and the big dude have shacked up and you're on his

Well said.. and written. Sometimes that is the hardest thing to do.. asking for help..

It is for me..

Edtime Stories said...

I have visited a few of the darker corners of Savannah and I know what you mean.
The story was great and I am going to steal the metaphor for a speech I am writing. *as you know good writers steal stuff from great writers*
Thank you for being open about your thoughts here it was very enlightening.

Leesa said...

rob: I am glad you enjoyed the post today.

speaking: yeah, but was it in New York? I frequently get doors held open for me in Georgia. And the few times I have been stopped on the road, someone stops within minutes to assist.

monica: thanks. Yeah, I pulled on my shirt, too.

heather: I am married, sweetie. Not shacking up. Or in shackles.

ed: thanks. Er, stealing the metaphor. I feel honored and cheated at the same time. But steal away. Just don't get half-a-million dollars in a signing bonus while you are attending Harvard.

Speakin' my mind said...

leesa, late answer here, but yes it is in NYC. Check out one of my earlier posts and you will understand that just because men live in NY, some still fight for a woman's honor.

EmmaK said...

Paris really has an awful nose. You'd think that with her kind of money she could get it filed down or something. Nicki is a bit hotter than Paris, although that's not saying much since they're both dogs. If Paris is a mongrel, Nicki is a shitzu.

NotReverent said...

Been there.