Where’s Waldo’s truck
Friday January 04th 2008, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Life

Bay Area storm

I looked at the sky before we left to drive our oldest and her husband to the airport this morning. Note that this photo was taken at twenty minutes before noon: see the truck in the picture yet? And yet, today’s storm was far less, I kept thinking as we drove.

Several years ago, one of our children lost her sheet music the day before her high school concert where she was to perform a solo. No time for letting the mail bring an order. The only place in the whole Bay Area that sold that music, as far as I could find, was in Berkeley–across the San Francisco Bay and 50 miles up the most congested highway in Northern California. The sky looked very dark that morning: my husband urged me, worried, Go early. The kid was pretty upset at herself for losing her music and fairly frantic that it be replaced. I thought, only for love…

We had this ’88 Honda Accord, the sort of well-aged car you own when you don’t ever want to have a scenario where your kid with the new license comes home after crashing the car and you blurt out something stupid that makes them think you care more about the car than them. It had a mildly bashed bumper before we even got it. I felt it was a good antidote to the intense materialism of the area we live in, and that that was a good thing when you’re trying to teach your teenagers what’s important in life. Embarrassing the heck out of them had its definite points. I mean, what teenage boy is going to drag race to impress his friends in…that? Right.

So. The skies started pouring before I even got to the Dumbarton Bridge, (the day was later given 100 Year Flood status) and I could barely make out the truck in the next lane over. It was some of the heaviest windblown rain I had ever driven through, and I kept going, This is California? East Coast, sure, but California!?

And then, when I was most of the way there, my windshield wiper got the hiccups. One side started going slower. Spastic. Erratic. I held my breath, not sure I could even find my way to the side along the soundwall, and if I did, I’d be a sitting duck in the breakdown lane. I tried turning the wipers off, but that was just too blind in that horrendous rain, I had to have at least one side I could see out of; I was leaning way over to look out the passenger half. And then the one wiper caught on the other and they both came to a heartstopping halt. Fini.

What happened from there was the scariest drive of my life. The blinkers the other drivers couldn’t see. Trying to get off the highway. Trying to find someone to help me fix this. Knowing how far I was from home. This was just before I bought my first cell phone (I got one soon after!) It was several miles before I found a garage off the freeway.

And when I did, the guy at the gas station said, Here. Pull into the bay here, get yourself out of the rain. Let’s see what we can do for you, lady. There–and he found the loose screw on the wiper, tightened it up, and said, There you go. Have a safe drive home, lady.

The whole thing took him less than two minutes from when I’d pulled in, fighting tears, and he waved away any payment and my fervent thanks. I filled my car. That, at least, I could do in return. Two years later, I filled my car there again, on the way home from Stitches West back when it was held in Oakland, making a point of telling whoever was on duty that day why I went well out of my way to go to their station.

Because I wanted to take that good man’s graciousness and bless the next worker at that station with the story of it. Let them know that when they help a traveller out, it is not forgotten. It is remembered with great gratitude. And that can even be good for business. For years!

p.s. The band teacher had a spare copy of the music.

5 Comments so far
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that tricky music teacher. What a great-feeling-a little bit scary- story

Comment by sophanne 01.04.08 @ 7:03 pm

I sort of got stuck on the ’88 Honda Accord. I really wanted one of those in high school (and beyond). My dad always bought American cars. Now he drives a Honda Odyssey.

Comment by amy 01.04.08 @ 7:15 pm

I hate driving in the rain and I have never had an experience like that.
You found the right garage with the right employee.

Comment by Sonya 01.04.08 @ 7:28 pm

Jeez! All that and there was a spare copy? Argh! I love it when I find a good garage! I have been going to mine for around 10 years now and will go there until they close, I move too far away or I stop driving.

Comment by Carol 01.04.08 @ 9:30 pm

Someone was watching over you that day for sure!
And isn’t it so that some of the biggest hearts have the most regular jobs. Thank Goodness!

Comment by Toni 01.05.08 @ 7:17 am

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