Having a Breakdown

Not exactly how I was hoping to start my weekend. Actually, I take that back; my weekend started with a breakfast burrito from Taqueria Los Gordos, so it started exactly how I was hoping. But, it wasn’t long after that the day took a slight detour.

I was just about hang out on the Santa Cruz boardwalk with my buddy Regis when I pulled into a Wells Fargo parking lot to get some cash from an ATM. It was about the same time that I realized the building I had pulled up to wasn’t a Wells Fargo bank at all that my clutch pedal snapped like a hormonal pregnant woman (Now, before anyone judges me on that last statement, I was just stereotyping). I pressed the pedal a few additional times just to assure myself that I wasn’t going anywhere. “Well, this sucks.” I grabbed my phone. “Guess I better find a tow truck for her.” And by her, I mean Winnie…my Blazer.

“Well, I have AAA,” Regis informed me. Now, there are many reasons why I’m grateful to have Regis as a friend, but him having AAA just jumped to the top of the reasons list. “The only thing is I don’t have my AAA card or my driver’s license on me.”

“So, no identification?”

“Not really, no. You think that’ll be a problem?” I sorta did, yeah.

“…Nope. Let’s give them a call.” After a quick dial and thirty minutes, a large flatbed tow truck turned off Front street into the parking lot. A short man in his forties hopped down from the cab and walked my way. As we approached each other in preparation for our formal introductions, I couldn’t help but think this man was a Godsend. “Hey, how’s it going? I’m Jon.”

“Hi, Jon. Angel,” the man replied as we shook hands. I looked down at his name patch to verify the information. Hmm.

“Nice to meet you, Angel.”

“This shouldn’t take too long,” the driver informed me as he lowered the flatbed. And he was right. It didn’t. Before I could say “angel food cake” Regis, the Godsend, and I were sitting in the cab of the tow truck.

“Okay, so which one of you has AAA?”

“That’d be me,” Regis replied. “But here’s the thing, I don’t have my AAA card on me.” Angel looked up from his clipboard and then back down to it.

“Your ID then, please.”

“I actually don’t have that either…left it at my apartment.” Angel looked up again this time with a subtle “are you kidding me?” expression on his face. “But, I can tell you my license number though,” Regis assured.

“Okay. Fine.” Angel wrote down the information and before I could say “angels in the outfield,” we were headed south toward Aptos. The ten minute drive felt like five as Angel shared a bit of his work history and a few towing stories. We had a few laughs and I can neither confirm nor deny that there was a tender moment shared between us that rivaled any closing moment of a Full House episode. But, like the operational lifespan of my vehicle’s clutch, all good things must come to an end. Before I could say “touched by an angel,” we arrived at the auto shop…okay, that last one was a little weird.

After Winnie was offloaded, I paid the remainder of the towing bill as the shop was just under ten miles from the point of breakdown (note to self: encourage friends with AAA to upgrade to Plus or Premier).

“Well, you really are an angel; I appreciate it.” Now, I’m not exactly sure why I said that to the driver other than I couldn’t help myself…that being said, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t amused…and he would soon demonstrate this through an act of passive aggression. We shook hands and I headed inside the garage to have a quick conversation with a mechanic before getting a ride with Angel back to my apartment.

After giving a brief overview of the situation to one of the shop’s mechanics, I was brought into a small office space where I gave my contact information and spare keys. “Alright, man,” the man behind the counter said. “We’ll try to give it a look today, but we’re pretty jammed. If not today, first thing on Monday for sure.”

“Sounds good. Appreciate it.” I walked out the door back to where Winnie was dropped. I approached my vehicle looking for the tow truck.  Well, it was right here a second ago. Nothing. I gave a quick look to my right. Nothing. I then looked down the road to my left just in time to see the back of Angel’s large flat bed truck disappear around a gradual bend in the road. Hmm. Only one other time had I felt so abandoned by a stranger. In Nairobi a few years ago, a couple of friends and I were dropped off by a jerk of a Matatu driver close to in the middle of nowhere on our way to a counseling center. After the initial disbelief, we had no other choice but to start walking. Once again, walking would be the solution.

Before renting an apartment, I stayed for a short while in the guest house of a retired surgeon. The house was relatively nearby and considering I left on good terms, I gave her a call (Trolls don’t burn bridges…literally or metaphorically). Answering machine. The only other person available at that time to offer a ride was standing beside me. “Well, Regis, I think we’re walking.”

“How far is it?”

“Can’t be that far…like a mile or so.” It was closer to four.

“Well, at least it’s nice weather.” Perhaps a bit too nice. It was borderline hot.

“Yeah, might have to grab something to drink up the road there in that little shopping center.”

We had a game plan. We started walking.

Around fifteen minutes into our urban hike, Regis and I walked into the only grocery store in a complex right off of Soquel. Had I known it was a natural foods grocery store, I probably wouldn’t have waisted my time…apparently, there’s nothing natural about Gatorade. Isle-after-isle, I searched for something normal to drink, but all I could find were shelves of odd choices like Mama chai, Amy & Brian Coconut Juice with Pulp, and Organic Almond Milk. These, along with about a dozen or so equally unappealing labels weren’t options; they were liquid frustration. Obviously, a drink would have to wait.

About a mile after being disappointed that hippy establishment, Regis and I were about a mile closer to the Chevron minimart where I knew they would have ample Gatorade…specifically, the blue kind. We meandered past a single story brown building where I was treated for a tick bite and then past a church where I spent a memorable Sunday morning a few months back. I didn’t realize the impact Soquel Drive would have on my life, but this road had somehow become somewhat of a major player in my Californian development.

Then, like a lighthouse to a ship who’s car had broken down, the Chevron minimart came into view and for the fist time since I started walking, I knew we would be okay.

After a quick stop, a bottle of the blue stuff, and a pair of sunglasses, Regis and I were back on the road. With the exception of truck full of renobs barking at us like dogs in heat, the remainder of the of our journey was pretty uneventful…not that walking to a Chevron station on a sunny Saturday afternoon is front page material, but you know what I’m saying.

Three days later I received a message from the mechanic informing me that Winnie was ready to go. The fact that she was in the shop for two business days had me a little worried. I had hoped that the issue was with my clutch pedal and not the clutch itself, but it seemed as though that wouldn’t be case. When I arrived back at the auto shop, I was prepared for worst.

“So, what’s the damage?” I asked.

“You know, they actually don’t make the part that busted on your rig anymore.” Great. The last time a mechanic told me that, I had to have the part manufactured from scratch and it wasn’t all that cheap.

“So, how much am I looking at?”

“Well, because we couldn’t find the part, we just zip tied the clutch pedal in place.”

“You…zip tied it?”

“Yeah, it actually works pretty well.” Well, thanks MacGyver.

“It does?” The mechanic nodded his head as he typed a few things into the computer. “Alright.”

“So, the total comes to sixty dollars.” I paused for a moment. “You know, diagnostic fees.”

“Right…diagnostics,” I said as I retrieved my card from out of my wallet.

“Debit or credit?”

“Credit.”

“Yeah, you can see what we did under the pedal if you have a flashlight. I would recommend getting a pack of zip ties just incase you have the same problem down the road.”

“Sounds like I might,” I said as I signed for the transaction.

“Well, if you have any other issues with your vehicle, don’t hesitate to bring it by.”

Or, I can save myself the time and money and just carry around some duct tape and paperclips.

“Thanks. Appreciate it.”

While the only thing more unsettling than driving a vehicle literally held together by zip ties is driving a vehicle literally held together by zip ties across highway 17 on a regular basis, I suppose the whole situation could be worse…I could be writing about how my vehicle still isn’t running.

And though I was a little upset that I had to drop sixty bucks for two zip ties, ironically, my attitude actually changed when moments later I spent over seventy bucks filling up my gas tank. Amidst the absurdity that is $4.40 a gallon of gas here in Santa Cruz, I realized that paying a price well south of one hundred dollars for an issue that rendered Winnie undrivable was something to be grateful for. For those of you unfamiliar with Winnie, she can be a pretty expensive, temperamental vehicle. I’ve been told multiple times that I should just dump her for something younger, but a few years and a couple breakdowns isn’t reason enough to convince me to act upon such advice. Sure, she has a few miles on her, her top sags, and she occasionally leaks gas out her tailpipe, but such imperfections are nothing more than…normal.

Like Indian men walking the streets of Calcutta, normalcy and imperfection go hand-in-hand. Or, as Alexander Pope put it: “To err is human.” (yeah, we’re not talking about cars anymore). But I mean, think about it, the moment we start believing that our own imperfections are somehow connected to our self-worth is the moment we give our faults a power they don’t deserve. Our faults don’t diminish our value; they prove it. Romans 5:8 reads, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV). If Christ still died for us despite our amazing imperfections, then our imperfections obviously have no bearing on our worth. Just as there is nothing we did or will do that will somehow increase our worth in the sight of God, there is nothing we did or will do that can diminish it either. He just loves us. Period.

And if we’re all still not yet on the same page about our worth, check out Psalms 139:13-15: “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day” (The Message). I have a hard time believing that anyone would spend that much time and thought into someone that wasn’t worth the effort.

You’re worth the effort. You have tremendous value. And, you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Now that rivals the closing moments of any Full House episode.

Wow, even I’m sorta surprised where this entry went.

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~ by jontroll on March 20, 2012.

6 Responses to “Having a Breakdown”

  1. If my car breaks down will you write something wonderful for it! You are an amazing writer! Love reading about your adventures!

  2. Thanks, Ro! Means alot! Haha…for sure. Just let me know if/when it’s in the shop…

  3. “Or, I can save myself the time and money and just carry around some duct tape and paperclips.” I laughed out loud so hard!! That’s one expensive zip tie!

  4. I know! And I was like…you can’t give me a couple for my glovebox?

  5. I bet you could weld your clutch pedal in place. If you can’t find someone to do it, I’ll be learning how to do a bit of welding in the not-so-far future.

  6. So, check this out…found out recently that I’ll be moving back up to WA in the not-so-far future, so that might work out nicely. I’ll pay you in burgers…

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