Wednesday, July 06, 2005

July 4, 2005

So Jen and I decided to make a pretty much last minute trip to Michigan to see my family for the long July 4th holiday. Lately we've only been going up for Christmas and we've wanted to make more frequent trips. With the baby coming Jen has been hoarding vacation time to supplement maternity leave and the long weekend gave us an opportunity to dash up there without using up accrued vacation time. Her one request was that we go to Ann Arbor so she can get a hot dog and waffle fries at Red Hot Lovers (her fave lunch spot when she lived there). Everytime we go up for Christmas it's closed for the holiday.

Unfortunately it was also closed for the Independence Day weekend. Maybe next year? At least we got to have a lovely dinner with Ken and Nicole so it wasn't a total bust.

On Sunday my parents had a BBQ and one of my cousins
brought her 3 and 5 year old girls, 6 week old son and husband. The girls went berry picking in their bare feet and turned them purple. It was a great image of being a child in the summer.

The girls came over with a makeup kit and were offering makeovers for a very reasonable fee. The "boy" makeovers consisted of grape hand lotion. I asked the 3 year old, Riley, what she planned to do with the money she earned. She said she wanted to buy a diary. I asked her if she could write? She is only 3. She said she can write her name and "I heart you". I thought that was the sweetest thing I heard the whole trip.

On our way home sunday we ran into a little car trouble. I heard a flapping sound under the hood 400 miles into our trip and 150 miles from home. Almost immediately the car felt humid. I was 1 mile out from a rest area just south of Terre Haute, IN. We pulled into the rest area, I popped the hood and saw that the main belt was splintering off into shards and one of the shards cut through the air conditioning hose. The belt had shredded like this once before. My 2002 Liberty has 60,000 miles! This shouldn't happen twice in 2 years with a vehicle just 3 years old. The last time this happened we were in town and had it towed to the dealer where it was repaired under warranty.

I have little knowledge about auto repair and was underprepared for this emergency. I went in the rest area where they have a staff person positioned to answer tourist questions. I found out that a small town was 2 miles down the road and since it was after 5pm on a holiday we'd probably have to get a hotel room and wait for a repair shop to open in the morning.

I came back out to the car and just stared at the engine. I was dumbfounded. Having experienced this before I knew it wouldn't make the couple of miles to the next town. A man came up to me and asked if I was having trouble. I wasn't in a great mood but explained to him what was going on. He told me he could fix it if I could get a new belt. It was a holiday! Where was I going to get a new belt? He said the auto parts store was open the previous evening (Sunday) until 9pm in Ohio and he thought it'd be open on the 4th too.

I went back inside and called the nearest Autozone. They were in fact open until 8pm and had the belt for $7.99. The man offered to drive us the 9 miles back to Terre Haute to get the part and he'd install it for us. This was a strangely generous offer. I spoke to Jen (noticably pregnant which may have helped in getting attention or attracting a serial killer) and we decided to go with him. If we were going to get murdered in Indiana at least it was going to happen to us together.

In his vehicle we found out the man's name was Tom and that he was the head mechanic at a Dodge dealer in Ohio near Dayton. He had 3 weeks off and was wrapping up a visit with his daughter and heading to Vandalia to spend time with his son's family. We had an uneventful trip to the store. Jen and I later confirmed that we both were breathing sighs of relief every time he made a turn that brought us closer to the store as opposed to some dark dead end.

On the return trip we stopped at a gas station to fill up Tom's truck and got back to the car without incident. It took him all of about 10 minutes to change the belt with the wrench I purchased and we were on our way, sans A.C., but at least we didn't have to stay in a crummy motel for the night. Tom was our hero. If we were driving some other kind of vehicle he wouldn't have offered since he only works on Chrysler vehicles. Our tale turned from tragic to a simple 1 hour delay. Thank you Tom! I'm unsure of whether this was a reward, instant karma like, or if I need to now pay it forward. I am very grateful regardless.

1 comment:

It's Lisa, y'all said...

I don't know when it happened or how it happened, but I have mostly completely lost all faith in the goodness of people. Not that I think everyone is a criminal, but I am very suspicious of strangers who approach me, sure that they want money or have other ulterior motives. I blame my mom for some of this, since she is a hyper-worrier who sends me every email in existance about people getting murdered at rest areas or getting their ankles slashed in mall parking lots, but I'm not sure where the rest of it comes from.

To some degree, I think my suspicion has something to do with getting older (knowing what people are capable of through news stories and movies) and getting more stuff (fear of losing what I have worked hard to get). I have thought that if I had less stuff of value, I wouldn't be such a suspicious person. So help me if I ever get truly wealthy!

Another possibility is that I have spent most of my adult life working as an assistant to someone important and have had people tell me things (in drunken moments) like, "Well, we want to be friends with you because of who you work for, but we do like you, too!" Therefore, I am always a little suspicious of why people I work with are nice to me.

Ironically, I don't think that I exhibit "you're rich so I'll try to get something from you" or "you're important so I'll be nice to you" behaviors much myself and would drive long round-trips to help motorists in distress or give a guy $5 if he was at a gas station with no money. I am fine with helping people who truly need help, but I have a hard time when I feel that those people are not doing what they can to help themselves, but are just looking for handouts. I know this is not a very Christian attitude and I want to work on it, but that's where I am now.

My sister and brother-in-law hiked the Appalachian Trail a couple of years ago and they contend that their experience on the trail (Google "trail angels" for instance) really built up their faith in mankind (and my brother-in-law has had some really rough stuff happen to him -- like giving a ride to some stranded motorists who bashed in his head with a hammer, pushed him out of the car, and basically left him to die!). I don't know if that would fix it for me, but it's always one of those things I hope to try someday.

Glad that you found someone who could help you out of that mess. That's a pretty awful experience!