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Road trip! Tulsa to St Louis


Day 10, US research trip, Believe No One

Believe No One takes Fennimore & Simms to the United States Mid West.
These blogs document the places we visited and people we met during the research trip.

Thursday 10th May 2012

You may recall that I was more than a little daunted by the prospect of driving the big sedan we hired when Dave touched down in Tulsa. Well, I was immensely grateful on Day 3, when Mike Nance said we wouldn’t need a car – he would drive us to where we needed to go. He will forever be my Sir Lancelot for that kindness. The monster, pig-wallowing, fish-tailing, bucket-seated sedan went back the day after we hired it, but we would still need a car to make the 600 mile journey from Tulsa, Oklahoma to St Louis, Missouri. Now, as I mentioned, I am the nominated driver. We booked a ‘compact’ – i.e. small car – online and went to pick it up on the 9th. It was just me and Murf, as Dave was booked to do a forensic presentation for 16 year-olds at a high school in Tulsa. I wanted to return to Sapulpa to look at the courthouse again, and soak up the mid-west town atmosphere.

At the airport we were told that there was no compact available – but they had a medium sedan… (I began to suspect that car hire firms don’t actually have any compact cars in their fleet.) We discussed the problem of my height and inaccessible pedals, and were sent to the garage to check the car out. It was the same damn car I’d taken back on the 3rd day. While we were in the garage, a big, bumptious golfer drove his rental back into the garage to return it, handed to keys to an employee and demanded his paperwork. The guy, a tall and chunky African American, explained that he needed to check the car. Golfer Git – who must have had a spectacularly bad time on the fairway – accused the employee of calling him a liar. He got more and more abusive and nastier and nastier, trying to needle the guy who was just trying to do his job. The employee remained polite, but firm. When we went back up to the lobby a few minutes later to ask for something smaller, Golfer Git was smirking at the counter, having signed off his paperwork, and employee was at the door of his boss’s office. The boss had a few quiet words with his employee, by which time Golfer Git had left. The boss turned to me.  ‘Ma’am, did you hear what went on downstairs?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘And I don’t know how you kept your patience.’ I nodded to the employee. ‘I’ll make a written statement, if you like.’ Golfer Git had accused the employee of being rude, ‘cussing him out’, and escalating to physical threat. It seems that a complaint of that sort could result in instant dismissal. ‘The only cussing and physical threat came from your customer,’ I said. ‘The man was obnoxious – obviously spoiling for a fight.’ I wrote it all down, and they were very understanding when I explained my problem with the sedan. The boss wondered if I might take a look at the vehicle in 2B. I returned to the basement car park – and nearly had a heart attack. ‘A Jeep! I can’t drive a Jeep – I’m not even sure I can scale the darned thing to get behind the wheel!’ A grinning female employee patiently showed me how to work the height adjustable driving seat and the controls. As soon as I sat behind the wheel, I loved it. And they let me have it for the price of a medium car. Tulsans – you’ve gotta love ’em.

You expect me to drive THIS?

You expect me to drive THIS?

That was yesterday. Today is the 10th, and we’re leaving Tulsa and its lovely, friendly courteous people (Golfer Git doesn’t count – he was a tourist, heading back to Chicago on the next flight.)

I will forever remember the warmth of their welcome, the generosity of the professionals who gave up time they almost certainly couldn’t spare to explain procedures and talk about fictional scenarios with a scientist and a storyteller, indulging our curiosity in the face of the the grim realities of violence and its consequences they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Tulsans are proud of their city, and I can’t turn away from Tulsa without sharing this blog with you. It’s written by National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, and I’m grateful (once again) to Mike Nance, for
directing me to it.

Essential stop for fishing supplies

Essential stop for fishing supplies

We have to make a stop en route in Springfield, Missouri. This is at Dave’s request. The place is a legend (to fishermen, anyway).

We get a police escort.

Police escort to the city limits

Police escort to the city limits

Okay, we didn’t, I made that up. It’s what I do.







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