by Tina Stone
Why I give thanks when car trouble comes knocking
|I have always been a calm, patient, laid back kind of gal. I like going with the flow most of the time, as long as the flow is fast, rapid, and energetic. (But, that's for a different article.)There was one thing however, that could get me riled up faster than a rooster on a Sunday. Car trouble was never something I could appreciate. Especially if it was unexpected and held up my highly important schedule. Not one but two incidents changed my attitude and thought process about cars and unexpected breakdowns.
Incident Number One
I had just come off a graveyard shift and it was 6 AM on a Friday morning. I would be off work until 11 PM Monday evening. I had a long weekend and had made plans with my best friend to spend the weekend with her. I was living in College Station, Texas at the time and my best friend lived in my hometown of Seguin, Texas which was roughly about a three-hour drive, just under 145 miles. I was excited to get on the road and had packed my traveling bag the night before and already had it stashed in the backseat. A quick roll through the Doughnut Palace for a large coffee and a sausage biscuit and I was ready to hit the road.
The road was wet and it had been raining off and on during the night, but a little rain never stopped me from driving. I did not think anything of it and was listening to a Cassette tape rather than the radio. Cell phones were getting popular around this time, but I had not been one to hop on that particular bandwagon yet. I made it to Caldwell, Texas which is only about 28 miles into my journey and was at the last stoplight in town before I would head out into a long stretch of road flanked on either side by large, flat fields that were planted with cotton. As far as the eye could see, nothing but field upon field of cotton.
At the light, my car suddenly made this wretched gurgling sputtering sound and stalled out right there and then at the light. Nothing I tried would get my engine to crank. A lawn service truck with several strong gardeners rolled up behind me and kindly offered to push my car out of the way. Thankfully, there was a small filling station right there on the corner. As the men jumped out of the truck and started to push, it's then we looked up and there was a tornado headed directly for us! I will not repeat what they said, but I definitely agreed with them as we ran like crazy into the filling station, where the clerk directed us into the back storage area. It was over in minutes.
A little wind damage to the station, but later I learned it was a category 4 that nearly demolished a school and did horrible damage to the whole town. I believe it made headlines everywhere. As the fear wore off, I went back to my car and guess what...it started right up the first time I tried it and I proceeded on to my weekend with my friend. One huge thing stuck with me though. Had my car not broke down, had I went on through the light and proceeded forward, I would have driven right into the path of that tornado and we would have met on that stretch of road where there would have been no place for me to go. No protection, no nothing. Just cotton fields.
Incident Number Two
I've always loved driving and I was returning home from a visit from the same friend mentioned above. I had entered the city of Bastrop and was a bit grumbly at the traffic, which in my opinion was moving ridiculously slow. I happened to look down and saw my car was starting to overheat. That was just fabulous. I saw a O'Rileys Auto store just ahead and decided I'd stop there and see if I could get water for my car. Now, in Texas, it doesn't matter how much you try to tell a Texas MALE how perfectly capable you are at putting water into your own car. They will, each and every time, insist you, a female, should just step aside and let them handle the situation. This particular Texan male was even more irritating because when I walked in and said I needed water for my car, he gave me that look. You know, the one that says "Oh how cute, the little woman thinks she knows what's wrong with her car" look. His reply was, "Darlin, let me just double-check that for you." I grit my teeth and smiled. I was in a hurry and I just wanted the guy to give me the water and be done with it. He makes a big show about going out to my very overheated car and opening the hood. He takes the rag from his back pocket and doesn't even hesitate to twist the knob opening the water tank. My first instinct was to stop him...to warn him NOT to open that knob just yet. But he was too quick and yes, steam and boiling water gushed out and he yelped and jumped back. He glared at me and I just shrugged and said, "I told you it was overheated."
He goes back into the store and I see him talking to what I assume is the manager. The manager comes out and asks me what is wrong. I repeat that my car is overheated and I had asked for some water. I stress that I told the other guy and he could obviously see it was steaming and hissing. The manager walks over, stays a safe distance and looks. He nods and says, "Yep, that is definitely overheated." It was a struggle but I did manage to keep my mouth shut.
Nearly forty-five minutes after I pulled into the O'Riley's, I was finally back on the road. I know it was forty-five minutes because I remember very clearly looking at my clock as I pulled away. I was back on the highway and cranked my music back up to improve my mood. Less than a few miles down the road, traffic thickened and slowed way, way down. You could see the emergency lights flashing and as I got closer I could see someone was standing out in the traffic directing us to merge to the other lane. As I got even closer, my heart sank. There is an intersection, a huge logging truck loaded down with pine logs had flipped over. I'm not sure why I did it, but I looked at my clock. Exactly forty-five minutes from where I'd broken down. Had I not broken down when I did, I would have probably been passing that very intersection when that trucker didn't see the stop sign and flipped through the intersection. The greatest miracle was NO ONE had gotten hurt, not even the truck driver.
Those two incidents forever changed my outlook on unexpected breakdowns. Now, when my car breaks down, my first thought is "Okay Lord, what are you protecting me from this time?"