Routine trip to McKenzie ends up being an eventful night

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

One of the great things about being a newspaper writer is the fact no two days are ever the same. Some days, however, really stand out as unforgettable.

In this case, it happened one night.

Last Monday evening, I traveled down to McKenzie to cover their monthly town council meeting for the first time.

I was heading back out of town about 8:15 p.m., when things started to go awry.

I suddenly realized I had missed my turn back onto Highway 31. I looked for a place to safely turn around, and pulled off the road. Second mistake.

Remember those heavy rains we had? My Jeep sunk into a quagmire I couldn't seem to escape.

No going forward; no reversing. The Jeep took on a curious sideways tilt as I sank deeper into the muck.

&#8220Oh, great,” I muttered. My husband was going to love the fact I had gotten stuck more than 35 miles from home on a very chilly night.

I dug out my cell phone and dialed home to deliver the bad news. I got Benny's name out of my mouth when he picked up – then silence. My cell phone had gone dead.

The cold was creeping into the Jeep. It was so dark; there were no other cars coming in my direction.

I kept trying to coax the cell phone to work just long enough for me to get a message to Benny, so he would know where I was.

My phone would dial. I could hear the phone ring on the other end – just before it died again.

I cranked up the Jeep once again and tried to get back on the road, to no avail.

My black leather jacket was doing a woefully inadequate job of keeping me warm.

I knew I had to find some help, and fast.

Slinging my oversized bag over my arm, I left the hazard lights blinking, locked the Jeep, and started hoofing it back to town. I had a flashlight, one of those tiny flat numbers you squeeze to turn on, but it was better than nothing. I saw a house lit up and headed in that direction. As I stepped up on the porch, I could hear the muffled sounds of a television. I knocked. No response.

I knocked again. I could hear movement inside the house and voices at a distance. I knocked once more.

There was a sound behind me. I turned quickly and saw three things: a man, a flashlight – and a gun, pointed directly at me.

You wouldn't believe how fast this out-of-shape, middle-aged woman can put her hands up without even being asked.

&#8220I'm sorry – my car is stuck and my cell phone is dead and I REALLY need some help,” I quickly told the fellow with the gun.

He proved to be a pleasant, baby-faced young man named Allen Ingram. It seems nobody they know ever comes to that front door (turns out, the furniture layout blocks it).

&#8220You can't be too careful these days,” he said with a sheepish grin.

Don't I know it.

He invited me into his home, where I got a busy signal when I called Benny. The homeowner borrowed a neighbor's big four-wheel drive truck, picked up some tools at his house and gave me a ride back to the Jeep. He hitched my muddy vehicle to a winch and managed to pull the Jeep safely back onto the pavement.

I tried to give my rescuer some money for the trouble he had gone to for me.

&#8220Oh, no, ma'am…you just have to help folks when they need it…Merry Christmas,” he said with a smile and a hearty handshake.

Benny and I are awfully glad Allen isn't the type to shoot first and ask questions later.

Have a blessed Christmas, folks.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at