Broken Stone

I’m thinking about K., a Lyft driver, who gave me a ride home to my motel from a conference in Orange Beach last Saturday night. She was 33, almost my daughter’s age, and had extensive forearm tattoos I could not quite discern in the dark front seat. Ordinarily I sit quietly in such situations, mute as a broken stone, but this night was different and we talked. She said she used to work for Uber but had switched over. She had a husband who had been incarcerated in the Baldwin County jail for a year due to two public intoxication arrests. She was happy that she had made some payments on her car, unhappy about having to deal with a diagnosis of MS some years back — she was only working because $800 a month disability just wouldn’t cut it for her and her two kids, ages 7 and 3 — and she had a good trailer to live in now, though the one she’d had to endure for some time was horrible, had been flooded and infested with insects…there was talk of a landlord who didn’t care…but things were looking up, now. The littlest child hated for her to go out to work and clung to her before she left each evening. She wouldn’t take the painkillers that were prescribed for her — “They make me feel like such a slug!” — and had discovered a doctor who’d helped her find other ways of dealing with her physical problems. At the entrance to the motel, as we were turning in, there was a small blank-faced man (perhaps drunk, perhaps injured, perhaps just resting) a few feet off the main four-lane to the beach, barely visible, his legs splayed out before him.

— Uh-oh, she said. Looks like somebody in trouble!

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