Trippin' Sans GPS

by Kathleen Koprowski

I wasn’t surprised when my plane landed at DFW airport in a blinding fog, so thick that I couldn’t even see across the street as I waited curbside for the rental car shuttle. I had just arrived in Texas to begin work on an assignment that I wasn’t sure would be a slam dunk with a new client that I wasn’t sure would be a good fit. It seemed somehow fitting that the weather would chime in with its opinion about this experiment:  outlook unclear. 

I agreed with the forecast but had chosen to trust my instincts, which were telling me to step outside my comfort zone where life was safe and predictable and…well, boring, really. New territory beckoned, and I was willing to be surprised. And fogged in. 

Undaunted by the heavy mist, I congratulated myself for the keen intuitive sense that had prompted me to request a "Mr. NeverLost" when making my Hertz reservation two weeks earlier - something I had never before done in years of renting cars. Truth be told, it was also due to my spotty track record on Fort Worth's spaghetti freeways and one-way streets and the Texan tendency to use landmarks to give directions, but I wanted to chalk this one up to ESP, just for fun.  

Anyway, I had no worries: "If you've ever been lost or worried about finding your way to an unfamiliar destination, let the remarkable Hertz NeverLost® system be your guide,” suggested the Hertz website. A little fog wouldn’t faze me, not with their GPS!  Seventeen miles to my hotel should take twenty-five minutes, tops. I could be tucked in bed by midnight. 

My celebratory jig was cut short upon arrival at the Rental Car Center, where I discovered my name was not on the board and there was no car waiting curbside (grrr). And stretched before me at the kiosk in the parking lot was a long line of disgruntled travelers shivering in the murky dampness whose cars were also MIA (GRRrrr).  Another sign of a bumpy ride ahead?  Instincts disagreed:  perhaps it’s a perfect opportunity to channel my Sufi teacher and practice breathing mantras. And patience.

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by Pete Thompson


When I was nine years old, my family went to the middle of nowhere in the middle of Texas where my dad grew up.  I had many aunts and uncles and their offspring who lived on several farms in the area; others had moved away to various other places like Dallas and such.  I did not know that this was going to be the last family Christmas gathering with my grandmother, who to me seemed older than hell.  Sorry, grandma, but I knew that word at nine plus a lot more and used them without remorse.  "Goddamn" was a hard one to master, being a Baptist, when I was scared to death of our preacher sending me to hell for even thinking it.   

We drove out to the farms in a new 1953 Ford, later to become my first car, to a wonderland of hard wood forests and smells of farm animals I had never experienced before.  I was growing up in the small town of Artesia, NM, where we moved 2 years after I was born in Roswell, NM.  In Artesia all the smells we had were mostly of the oil refinery located just east of town, one of our favorite play grounds if we didn't get caught.  Some believed it to be the smell of pure money and for some it was.  I preferred the farm smells to the refinery although now they say it's all the same, whoever the hell "they" are?

On Christmas Day, I was presented with a pellet rifle and a million lead pellets.  It was a single shot so I kept a mouth full of pellets for quick reloading.  Anybody who wanted me to talk to them had to wait until I spit all the spittle covered pellets out into my hand.  I also received enough firecrackers to wreak havoc on my small young world.  I could shoot everything that moved and blow up everything that didn't, which I commenced do immediately.

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