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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Welcome to the Dirty T: Perdida Joy reflects on leaving abuse and living free

    Courtney Talak

    Perdida Joy, an employee of Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand located outside of the Harvill building, greets customers with a smile Wednesday afternoon. Joy is known for exceptional hot dogs, fun hats and great customer service.

    Perdida Joy works at the hot dog stand in front of the Richard A. Harvill building during the week. I am always taken by her big black hat with feathers jutting out the back and her fabulous collection of rings splayed across her fingers. I asked her to tell me her favorite life story, and debated whether I should get a hot dog.

    “I think this story is one of my best,” Joy said. “I was leaving an abusive jerk. I hitchhiked out of Houston, Texas, starting at the Hollywood Cemetery on I-45 and Main [Street]. I had been stuck there for two days, but then the good Lord offered me a choice,


    “This guy in a red, convertible Mustang pulls in, and he uh … offered me money for services, and I told him I wasn’t interested and only needed a ride. So then this guy with handicap plates and a beat-up, pick-em-up truck pulls into the cemetery, and he gets out of his truck and offers me a ride. So I think, ‘Okay, I’ll take this ride,’ you know? 

    “Just as I am trying to get, with my dog and my pack, to this guy, the guy in the Mustang pulls up in between me and the guy in the pickup. He’s flashing a lot of hundreds and he’s telling me, ‘You know, you’re gonna have to do something for this guy.’ And I said, ‘No, honey. The devil sent you, and God sent him, and all I asked for was a ride.’ 

    “And sure enough, this guy [in the pickup truck] gave me a ride—not far, 25 miles to the next town—and he took me out to lunch to his favorite restaurant. He bought my dog some food and me some mosquito spray because he said the mosquitoes were bad, and he dropped me off on this nice little creek where I could rinse off my clothes, take a bit of a bath and start my day fresh. 

    “So, there you go. You’re offered that choice in life, darling, and I tell you what: the rest of my rides home were all wonderful people. 

    “It was real funny on my last trip—this is the irony and fun of my life—the guy’s [Citizens band, a trucker radio] handle, was the ‘Grim Reaper.’ So I started at the cemetery with my choice between the angel and the devil, and end up with the Grim Reaper seeing me safely back to Flagstaff. Only in real life, … and it was fabulous. Seven rides in nine days.”

    She rolls her own cigarette as she tells me the one piece of advice she values most.

    “Don’t take life so seriously,” she said. “You’ll never get out of it alive. That is the best piece of advice my mother ever gave me, and it is true. You have to be able to laugh.”

    Follow Thea Van Gorp on Twitter.

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