Fall brings day trips — and breakdowns

By Grant McGee: Local Columnist

With fall coming, we’ve been talking about weekend trips.

Our recreational vehicle is a 1978 Volkswagen camper, the kind with the canvas pop-up top. We bought it in Clovis last year for $800. The bottom is seriously rusted, the heater doesn’t work but the “Happy Camper” (as we call it) runs good.

We’re still not going to take it to California or Florida because we don’t want to be too far from home if it breaks down. We’ve been looking at possible trips to places about three or four hours from Clovis.

“What do you see us doing if the camper breaks down away from home,” I said.

“Get it fixed there or tow it home,” said The Lady of the House.

“I could call up one of my friends, hook up a tow rope and get pulled back to town,” I said.

The Lady of the House gave me one of those looks. You guys know the kind of look I’m talking about.

“You’re not 19 anymore,” she said. “You either fix the thing or pay a tow truck to haul it back to Clovis. You don’t have any friends who’ll risk damaging their car to tow yours.”

Well, she had a point.

I carried a tow rope in my car for a long time. They’ve come in handy. I’ve also messed up my vehicle doing a favor with a tow rope.

I sometimes lend a hand to strangers for a number of reasons, one of which is someone might return the favor someday. I call it “loading the karma bank.”

That was on my mind the time I was cruising down the road on a hot summer day and saw a guy on the back of his pickup flagging me down. I turned around.

“Hey, do you have a rope?” he asked. “Could you give me a tow into town?”

I put my truck in front of his and hooked up. It was during this time I caught the gentle, wafting fragrance of beer. I saw a dozen or so beer cans scattered on the ground behind his pickup.

“Been drinking this afternoon?” I asked.

“Aww, just a few,” he said. “I was killing time trying to figure out how to get back to town.”

I wasn’t sure if I should help the drunk, but in my youth and idealism I figured, “Well, I’m towing him, what can it hurt?”

As with many things I’ve said in my life I came to regret that thought.

While pulling the guy’s pickup down the road he kept slamming on the brake. I heard some strange, disturbing sounds from the transmission. Finally the rope broke. I got out of the pickup.

“Don’t brake unless you see my brake lights,” I said.


I tied a Boy Scout knot and we hit the road again.
I pulled up in front of a gas station.

“Hey, thanks buddy,” said the guy as I took off the rope. “Do you have a couple of bucks?”

I don’t know what happened to my pickup that day, but the transmission never was quite the same.

So maybe The Lady of the House is right about paying for a tow truck if we break down in Quitaque, Las Vegas or Cloudcroft.

Then again, maybe I’ll buy a tow rope and put it in the storage area.

Just in case.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: blisscreeksw@yahoo.com