Tow Strap Twice today I needed assistance to extract a pickup truck from the mire into which it sank up to the rear axle. I was out doing work at a couple of new sites along with one of our employees. Despite ultimately not getting done all that we’d hoped, we decided the day had been quite “interresting.”

The first time was in mud. Mud like farmer’s field mud. Mud like what-the-heck-are-you-doing-off-the-beaten-path mud. Mud like squish and sink mud. Mud like kind under the 2-3″ of water that you step in when you alight from the immobile truck. The first 35′ feet were fine, another 30′ should have gotten us through the soft wet low spot… but we never found out. I hope this paints the picture for you. We were hauled out by a nice chap who happened by in his 4×4, with whom we were able to hook up two tow straps to reach from solid ground to not-so-solid. We were out of there in fairly short order. The fellow was quite happy to do it for us, and we had a nice neighbourly visit together on dry ground before he returned to his normal day’s activity.

The second time we were in gravel that had been put down during the winter, but hadn’t been packed down since the frost left the ground… it was very soft, which we discovered when trying to turn. The second site was rather more remote than the first, but not too long after we decided that a 4×4 happening by to assist us was much less likely this time around. After unsuccessfully trying to reach someone by phone to assist, we dug out the wheels somewhat, tried most of the available tricks we had (none of which included a shovel). No luck, but while we were working at it, two guys in a 4×4 happened along. They were quite willing to assist, but in the end decided that with the gravel being so soft, they’d only get themselves stuck as well. Interresting guys, bearing that familiar unspecified alcohol smell — but friendly, and gave me a lift up the road a mile to a guy they knew had a tractor. There were actually three tractors of various size and vintage in his yard, and this guy with a heavy accent agreed to come and help us as soon as he received a call he’d been waiting for “from up north.” My suspiciously-odoured companions then gave me a lift back to our site to rejoin my worker and our stranded vehicle. The last time I had workers at this site, the fellows who stopped to chat with them had open liquor in the car, so we figure maybe that’s just how it is in that particular area.

While we were finishing up our tasks for the site, I thought about the time that a friend and I as teenagers had gotten our car stuck at the side of the road one winter. We walked a quarter-mile or so up the road and found an older fellow repairing his tractor, and we made a deal with him: we would help him finish repacking the bearings on his tractor, after which he’d pull our car out of the icy ruts it was in. That was an interresting day too, but it seemed a reasonable trade.

A short time later (back to the present day), the chap with the heavy accent arrived (come to think of it, all three of them had a pronounced accent) driving the tractor which of the three in the yard was the one I’d have guessed had been derilect for at least 15 years after having served for a good 35 or 40 before that. He dragged the truck backwards for the second time that day, all the way back up onto the gravel road. We removed the chain from the vehicle and thanked him, at which point he asked who was paying. How much, I asked. $50, he said. I’ve only got $15 cash, I said, can he give me an invoice? No problem, he’d drive home and get one and come back. We built a makeshift table and a bench to kill some time (and to have a seat, though we didn’t get the time for it), gathered up our tools and packed up the truck again, and our friend was back shortly after that. He wrote me up an invoice without his glasses, so I checked the spelling of his name and we proceeded to have a visit with him. This was one of those visits where he told us all about the evils of insurance companies, since he’d seen a lot of things over the past 40 years and wanted to bet me $100 that if there was a forrest fire, our equipment wouldn’t be covered because there were trees too close. I wanted to take him up on it, but I didn’t want to torch the place to prove it… and besides, this was one of those conversations where no matter how absurd the claims of one participant, the other two were agreeing with a series of yup’s and uh-huh’s while wishing they could get going already. Besides the evils of insurance companies which are apparently all connected to the mafia (live and learn, I guess), he was careful to tell us (several times, of course) that if it was for us personally, he’d pay us $10 to pull us out, but because it’s for a company, he figured “they” could pay and they should because companies do things wrong and companies aren’t nice (or something like that). But if it was for us personally, he’d pay us $10 to pull us out, because that’s the kind of person he is. Never mind, I already know what kind of person you are.

Nobody likes to need help from others — at least I have never liked to be in that position. Today I discovered that it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to. I figure that’s a good thing.

I pause now to make very brief reflections about Jesus’ comments concerning the “extra mile” and about doing things in secret for eternal reward rather than the praise (or currency) of men. Cash the cheque and you’ll have received your reward in full. Request the cheque and you’ll be declaring your preference for the kind of reward you want. Better recommendation, when you give assistance, go the extra mile without expecting or requesting a reward from the beneficiary of your good deed, for your Father in Heaven who sees your acts and knows your heart will reward you… and that ought to be better than $50 and a pat on the back down here.

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