Every now and again things start to get to me (and yes, I realize that this is the understatement of at least this new century). I mean there are times when Murphy’s Law seem to target me and can be oppressive. I probably shouldn’t, but to better explain my line of thought I will list a few of the highlights:
My car is 14 years old, and has served me well for all but the last 2 or 3 years. After about $6,000 in repairs over the last couple, I find I no longer have the money or the patience to pour into it. Currently I’ve been told it needs a head gasket (an item which I was once able to replace myself, but with computerized engines and electronic sensors everywhere, I couldn’t begin to try.) The shop man cheerfully informed me that the “book” says it’s a 12-hour job to begin with (at $75-per-hour) and that if the cylinder head is warped we could be talking $3000 before it’s finished. As a result, the car is splashing oil into the cylinders, burning a quart of oil every 50-60 miles. This makes the plugs foul, causing the engine to sputter and miss like crazy.
Well, in my usual meek and mild way I threw a tantrum 2 weeks ago that I was sure would lead me to at least the third or fourth ring of hell, depending on exactly how personally my Maker took my rants – directed at Him, of course. To my utter shock, after running so rough I thought the car was on it’s way to the crusher, it suddenly started to IMPROVE. First, the frantic flashing of the “Service Engine Soon” light slowed and eventually stopped. The car ran smoother and smoother, until about 4 days ago the light went out! Now unless it’s possible for cars to HEAL over time, I was flabbergasted. It actually spooked me.
The light is back, now, but only sporadically; and the car is still running rather smoothly. To this frustrating string of events, add the weather that has accompanied my new job (delivering prescriptions for a local pharmacy). I’ve delivered in sub-zero wind chills, in white-out storms, in driving rains, and due to the timing of the job (1:00 until done) it is largely done by driving through school zones and behind school busses that stop every six-and-a-half feet. Plus: My lovely wife has been dogged by some of the worst arthritis complications I’ve ever seen and I can’t do ANYTHING to help her or lessen her pain. Frankly, I desperately needed a respite.
And this afternoon it came out of the blue: Carole and Dale asked if we’d like company on Thursday! You have to understand this relationship to understand how welcome this is: Carole is my wife’s cousin, and they’ve been close since childhood. Dale is her constant companion (now that he’s retired) and one of the most unassuming, most pleasant guys to be around that I’ve ever met. When we see them (a 2-hour drive that is rarely compatible with our schedules) it’s like we just left them yesterday. Conversations center on family and recent activities, and they seem instantly to understand and contribute to any personal goal or achievement. There are no pretexts, “airs”, or judgements here, just close friendship.
So, while the “miracle of the car” was nice while it lasted, the real relief will be to completely forget car, job, arthritis, and even my eventual “reward” for that outburst at the Big Guy. For an afternoon we’ll just enjoy the company and celebrate these two people, and that is, in the final analysis, the real importance of life: People.