If I had to choose but one story to immortalize my dear Mama, it would have to be this little bit I’ve been calling “Southern Samaritans” for years.
It all began one night during what was supposed to be a quick trip around the corner to see my aunt and uncle. They live less than two minutes from us, so Mama just snatched up her keys, slipped on her shoes, and off we went. Nothing spectacular was anticipated, and we had no particular reason for going, just good ol’ Southern “visiting” on a Saturday night…
When we got to the crossroads down from our house, we were just about to turn left when we saw a couple of lights creeping over the hill coming toward the crossroads. Curious Southern people that we are, Mama and I tried to identify what type of vehicle it could be. The lights weren’t bright enough to be a car and it wasn’t moving fast enough to be a four-wheeler.
“Let’s just sit here a minute and see what that is…” Mama said.
“Alright,” I replied, not one to cross my Mama.
It took a couple of minutes for the vehicle to get to the crossroads, but when it finally arrived, we beheld a rickety golf cart with a box overflowing with empty beer cans on the back and a passenger slumped over in the passenger seat. Much to our surprise, and somewhat to our discomfort, the driver got off the cart and proceeded to stumble over to our car. Mama rolled her window down about two inches and asked the man if he was okay.
“Here,” he said, shoving something through the small open space at the top of the window. It was a cell phone. “You talk to ‘er…” he slurred. It was obvious that those empty beer cans hadn’t been empty for long…
A bit shocked, Mama just looked at me for a moment before answering the phone. “Hello?”
“Where the h*** are they?!” an angry woman barked through the phone.
Mama told her which crossroads they were.
“Well where the h*** is that?”
Mama tried to explain, but to little avail. Finally, she asked. “Where do you live? Maybe we can figure out the way from here.”
The lady told her.
“Well,” Mama said. “I can lead them back to Darbee’s if you want me too. Can they find their way back from there?”
“Yeah,” the woman said. “They can make it home from Darbee’s.”
“Okay, then,” Mama said, saying her goodbyes. Handing the phone back to the man, she told him, “Okay. I told her we would lead y’all back to Darbee’s. Do you know how to get home from there?”
“Yeah, yeah. I can get home from there…”
“Alright, then. Y’all just follow me, okay?”
“Okay.” With that, the man stumbled back over to the cart and climbed on.
I was looking at Mama kind of funny and she said, “Well, we can’t let them go as they are; we have to help them. It is obvious they are lost and if they keep going straight and hit the highway, they are liable to get hit and killed!
Thus, began a seven-mile drive down dark country roads with two heavily intoxicated men in a golf cart following behind us. Curious or not, let it never be said that we aren’t nice people…
Mama’s cell phone rang and I answered it. It was my Daddy, who was working the evening shift that night, calling to check on us. He asked what we were doing and I told him we were leading two drunk men home. What? He gasped. I told him what had happened and he instructed us not to get out of the car and to keep our doors locked and to call him as soon as we got to Darbee’s.
About three miles later—and at a speed of about ten miles per hour, which was almost too fast for the driver of the cart to maintain control—we came to the second set of crossroads just in time to see a white car come flying through, stirring up a cloud of dust. Mama and I didn’t think much about it, and checking both directions, we turned left and continued on our way. After turning left, we checked the rearview mirror, but didn’t see the little lights that had been following us for nearly fifteen minutes.
“Well, where are they?” Mama asked.
“I don’t know…”
We stopped and waited a few seconds for them, thinking they would show up, but they didn’t.
“Well, what now?” I asked.
“Well, it looks like we’ve lost them. They must’ve turned right and followed that other white car. I guess we’ll just turn around and go back,” Mama replied.
So, we turned around in someone’s driveway and headed back the way we came. When we reached the crossroads to turn right, Mama noticed two little lights coming toward us in a cloud of dust (left by the car that had flown by earlier).
“There they are!” Mama cried, somewhat relieved. “They must’ve figured out they took the wrong turn and were following the wrong car.”
We waited for them to reach the crossroads and Mama rolled down the window and reiterated that they needed to follow us. The driver nodded that he understood and off we went again.
Deciding to slow our pace to a more manageable seven miles per hour in order to avoid any more mishaps, we crept down the dark, deserted country road headed toward Darbees. Finally, a little over an hour after we’d left home, we made it to Highway 90 … only to see two sheriff’s deputies parked side-by-side at Darbees chatting.
“Oh no, we’ve led them straight to the police!” Mama cried.
Once again, the driver got off the cart and stumbled over to our car. He thanked Mama for getting them to Darbees.
“Are you sure you can get home from here?” Mama asked.
“Yeah. I can get home from here,” he replied.
“Alright. Well, y’all be careful now… Make sure you look both ways before you cross the highway!” Mama said.
We sat at the stop sign and watched, with bated breath and fingers crossed, as the two men made their way across Highway 90… Thankfully, they also made it past the two deputies without being noticed and we breathed a sigh of relief.
As soon as they topped the hill and were out of sight, Mama turned onto Highway 90 and we headed to my aunt’s house. We’d driven about a quarter of a mile when I noticed that we were still driving only about ten miles per hour. “Umm… Mama, is there some reason we’re still going so slow?”
“Good Lord, I don’t know! You know what? I don’t even have my driver’s license with me. I hope we don’t get stopped!”
By the time we got to my aunt’s house, nearly an hour and a half had passed since we’d left home. Mama and I were practically delirious from laughing so hard. When we told my aunt and uncle the story, my uncle replied, “Well, I guess y’all were just being good Samaritans…”
For the record, we have never again paused at a country crossroads for longer than it takes to look both ways.