Blonde on the Prairie: Beware of Gypsies and Living Rooms on the Prairie


If you’re a girl living on the prairie, out of all of the numbers you could know, that’s the number you need to know. The number rings up the Barnes Country Sheriff’s office.

I’ve called the office a few times for various things over the years. If you’re a drunk driver and you’re anywhere near me on the road you probably shouldn’t be. I’ve tattled on you. I like to arrive alive. If you’re a farmer and have had lost cows anywhere between here and the county line I was probably the person who found them and called them in. 701-845-8530. It’s like having a clan of your very own, personal superheroes inside the phone line. All you have to do is call. This week I’m surprised they didn’t answer the phone, “Hello, Barnes Country Sheriff’s office, is this Jodi Rae Ingstad again?”

Oh brother did I have a peculiar week. Why do you care? You care because what happened to me may save you. I look to the sky hands raised, fists shaking and ask, “Why me Lord?” I’m guessing He answers back with a grin, “Why not you?” And so here begins the story of what happened this week.

I woke up Monday happy as could be. I’m a morning person. Most days I’m happy all the time. I don’t get tired and snarky until ‘round about the 3 o’clock pm hour. Lo and behold it was after 3 pm that I arrived home to my prairie. For once my snarkiness was going to work in my favor. Keep reading. We don’t like having unplanned visitors to our cabin and I can count on one hand how many times an unplanned person drives up in a year-usually Jehovah’s Witnesses or a lost delivery man. I didn’t bother unlocking the front door to the cabin when I got there. I wanted to bless my dogs with cold water from the hose on the deck first. I bent over to turn the faucet on and just then I heard a bunch of honking. I jolted up to find a newer, red pickup truck barreling up our long country drive. It stopped abruptly and as fast as I could make sense of it a young buck ‘round about 26 years bolted out of the passenger side of the truck with his hand reaching out. He walked fast and deliberately. Thank goodness my mama had the theatrical genes that passed on to me. I immediately began looking anxiously towards our windows as if to say without saying, “Someone is in there so back off buddy!” Thing is-nobody was in there. The young buck was walking faster than my personal space could keep up with and enough for my guardian angel said, “Beware.” Nice Jodi Rae turned in to Kung Fu Jodi Rae. I was mightily aware of all things and ready to defend myself. The young buck wore a dirty baseball cap, cut-sleeve t-shirt and blue jeans. He had a thick accent which I believe to have been from Alabama or Mississippi. He had dark brown eyes. I know that because I was so intent on being aware of everything. I’m going to type phonetically what he said with his thick, southern twang.

“Hey there m’am. I just come fru-um Mr. McGee’s ha-as. He bot all this asphalt and paid fer it and just wants it to go to someone who can use it. He already paid all the lay-ber so if you’d be will’in to pay $2.83 a foot we’ll just lay ‘er down now. He paid $4.94 a foot fer it and just wants it to go to someone who can use it.”

So there I stood. Hose in hand. Hot, sweaty, exposed and snarky. My mind works in the following way.

No. 1. Who the flip is Mr. McGee?

No. 2. Where was the asphalt? They had a nearly brand new truck and I could see there was nothing in the bed of it nor were they pulling a trailer.

No. 3. If Mr. McGee –whoever he is-already paid $4.94 a foot for it and just wanted it to go to someone who could use it then why was he asking me to pay $2.83?

I said, “Nope” very snarkily and took my hose and began walking away hoping he was too.

He said, “M’am, I’m going to be back in these parts again so I’ll just stop by and ask again.”

I snapped-unleashing my inner Yankee on him and said, “Don’t you dare.” I spent a little bit of time caressing my .22-caliber Colt handgun until husband got home and told the Sheriff’s Department so. It’s a paving scam usually only seen in cities. Country neighbors beware. They are traveling gypsy men and the pavement washes off after the first rainfall.
I slept a couple sleeps and woke up to it being Wednesday. I was driving in early to get my biopsy results before work. I drove up our long country driveway and on to the township road. At the fork in the road where the township and country roads meet I thought I had contracted cancer of the brain. I blinked more than once and what I saw didn’t go away. 701-845-8530. Thank goodness I memorized it early. From this point on in the story please remove all children of reading age from the newspaper.

There sat a couch. You read that right. A couch -out in the middle of the prairie. On the back of the couch in red paint the awful “F” word was written along with a rather precise painted drawing of a female body. The pillow on the couch said, “You” also in red paint. Visualize this. Next to the couch was an end table with a crystal lamp with no shade and a glass fish tank with fish rocks on the bottom and a red fish painted on the glass. Next to the end table was a green recliner with an erect mail genital part painted from the foot rest to the top. I must say I was rather impressed at the artist’s rendition. They have skills. The back of the recliner was painted in descriptive words pertaining to the male genital part on the front. Centered perfectly in front of all of this was a speaker on a tripod stand. They used it as a television screen and even took the time to cut out a little mermaid scene complete with swimming fishes to make it look like a sitcom was on. Imagine this. There I am standing baffled out in the middle of the prairie where the roads meet, just trying to drive to work happily but needing to stop and explain in peculiar detail what I was seeing to the poor dispatcher at the Sheriff’s office. I don’t blame her for giggling. I returned home from work to find the whole mirage completely gone. Your county tax dollars do go to good works.

701-845-8530. Memorize it. When you’re done with that memorize the phone number to the Times Record. You’ll want to order your subscription so you can see how that whole thing will read in next weeks Sheriff’s log! Thank you for being my superheroes BCSD! Beware of gypsies and living rooms on the middle of the road!

Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.