College kids are beginning to trickle back into town. The population seems to quadruple the week leading up to registration and classes. I am glad I will be a senior this year and will soon be blowing this Popsicle Stand…headed for greener pastures.  Well, probably not greener. This suburban university community has more actual green pastures surrounding it than any other place that I have lived.  A lot of cows too…I let my mind wander as I am sitting in traffic, trying to keep my mind off of the heat.

My foot is hard on the brakes, as I stretch across the bench seat, fingertips just brushing the window crank. If...only...I...could, I give up sitting straight up behind the wheel and turn my face to the open window on my left. I am sweating and could sure use the cross breeze, I flop toward the far window crank again, foot still pressing the brakes. Not gripping but pushing, pushing, pushing—righty tighty; lefty loosey—coaxing the knob at the handle base up and to the left counterclockwise. Wrong way. The righty-lefty rhyme not window-handle appropriate. Pulling now clockwise and, aaah, a tiny crack but enough to feel a poof of air.

I sit upright as a horn behind me honks. The car with engine revving zips around me, the back of a hand with a middle finger extended plastered against the passenger window. “Move that bucket,” wafts back through the open window. Still I sit with my foot on the brakes, leg beginning to twitch and cramp.

Summers. They're the worst...and me just trying to get to work—a tease as I am in walking distance now. I feel a trickle of sweat make its way down my spine, the heavily-starched long sleeve polo shirt starting to dampen under my arms. I will be carrying my tray laden with cocktails low. Can’t expose sweaty pit stains at my job.

Another honk, swerve and glare. How much longer will my cramping foot endure this strain? I feel my kitten-heel shoe slipping down on the pedal and increase the tension, turning my face away from the steady stream of cars now passing—angry looks and harsh comments—if looks could kill…

The sun blinds me as I look over to see a shadow figure, backlit by the sun, moving toward my open window. “Do you need assistance?” from his moving lips as his face lowers into the shade of my crippled car.

“My car shut off and I can’t get it to shift into park. The parking brake is stuck,” I say still concentrating on keeping my car from rolling backwards into the growing line of cars waiting to pass.

“Quite a traffic jam you’ve created,” he chuckles. “Let's get you off this road.”

I smile at the thought that I won't even be very late for work. Thank you, stranger.

Lisa Owens writes a monthly column for the Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter. Her columns are inspired by true events. She can be reached at