Monday, February 3, 2014
Take the Good with the Bad
I pumped ten buck's worth and got back in. It hesitated before cranking then cranked with a clattering so loud everyone in the parking lot was staring at me. I turned it off quickly so people would quit looking at me and popped the hood. I stood there for a minute staring at the engine hoping something obvious and easy to fix would jump out at me. It didn't. I did the only thing I knew how to do, check the oil. It was a little low so I bought a quart and poured it in. I got back in and tried to crank it again. It sounded like the front end was about to fall off and I had people behind me waiting for the pump. Customers at Kroger gas stations are not a pleasant bunch so I put it in gear and clattered my way over to the back of the parking lot. I didn't have to turn it off, it did that for me. I popped the hood again and stood in front of the car with my hands on my hips in the helpless female stance. Not one guy even offered to take a look or offer advice. So much for chivalry.
I called home, told Tim the great news and asked him to tell Zach to crank up ole Bertha Benz and come get me. He said Zach was asleep. Guess I don't need to tell you what I said next. For Pete's sake, go wake him up or YOU come. Just hurry.
I was on the back side of the lot by the water and air so I gave it one more crank and clattered up about ten feet so I wasn't blocking anyone trying to use the air or water. Then I just sat and waited. I tried calling home again and there was no answer. I took that as a good sign. About ten minutes later a brand new black Chrysler with tinted windows pulled up right behind me. I looked in my rear view mirror and thought maybe he was waiting for the air or water and I hadn't clattered far enough. My first thought was to crank ole Nelly (or Finnegan as Massey calls him) and get out of his way before he pulled out an assault rifle and went all Kroger Gas Station Postal on me. The passenger side opened and a tall guy got out. I thought he looked familiar then realized it was Tim. One of his friends had driven him. Then his buddy got out of the driver side. I knew his buddy bought a new car but had never seen it. So my gansta heroes had come to my rescue!
Funny thing. They did the exact same thing I had already done (twice). They popped the hood, had me crank it and stood looking at the engine with their hands on their hips. They did at least poke a couple of hoses and pull on a few wires before hollering over the clattering to cut it off.
Tim decided to drive it back to the house, something I wouldn't do but if he wanted to...let him. I rode with Rick in his gansta mobile. Beautiful car. He had Led Zepplin playing on the stereo and we could still hear Tim clattering along in front of us. We made it to the turn off for our street when smoke started pouring out of the exhaust pipe. Rick commented "That's not good." We followed Tim onto our street and down five houses to our driveway. My next door husband and his wife were out in their front yard. I told Rick "They probably want to run inside and lock the doors but know we've already seen them." Here's the thing. My next door husband is our go to guy. He's fixed my dryer twice, fixed my dishwasher once, fixed my oven, repaired my Johnny Dear numerous times, worked on every car we've ever owned and installed a ceiling fan, just to name a few. He's a mechanic for Delta and the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He had looked up as we clattered and clunked our way into the subdivision and am sure he knew what was coming. Tim got out of the car and headed straight over to Ron's (my next door husband) house. Ron came over and looked at the car. It took him less than five minutes to pronounce it officially dead. There was something about valves and engine block mentioned but pretty much all I heard was the tone a patient's monitor makes in the hospital when they flat line.
Even if it was fixable, Ron said it would most probably cost more than the car was worth. Seeing as we haven't even paid the house note this month, a huge repair bill for a car was out of the question. He did make me feel somewhat better when he said buying used cars is always a crap shoot and and least we got it cheap and got two years out of it.
I immediately went inside, sat down at the kitchen table and seemingly felt the weight of the world crushing me. We were already down to the one car. Granted my sister was loaning us Bertha Benz, but what in the world were we going to do now? Tim's car has been in the shop for a couple of months with a blown head gasket. It's fixed but we owed over a grand for the repairs. I have been paying a bit at a time and we only owed three hundred more. We were saving for the house note but decided to pay off Tim's repair bill, get his car back and take the Clatter Mobile to the scrap yard and put that money towards the house note. Zach had bought my Lil Beemer from me and it has fallen apart too. Too many issues to even name, it has been sitting for six months. Zach decided to scrap his too and help us out with the house note.
Tim went and picked his car up today and Zach scrapped his. He got four hundred bucks for it. If we had the money to fix it up we could have gotten more. "Shoulda, woulda if we coulda" is our motto lately but you gotta roll with the punches.
I went into work at three thirty and it was a ghost town. Not good, I needed to bank big tonight. We only had one reservation. One guy was working a double and left as soon as I got there. He only had one table at lunch and was tired from all the cleaning he had done. There's always something to be done in a restaurant, unfortunately today none of it involved tips. He's a single guy though and has a room mate. I, on the other hand have a husband looking for steady work, a mortgage due, kid in college and house full of Lost Boys. I clocked in and got a table right off the bat. The other server leaving just shook his head. Not five minutes later a couple of great tipping regulars came in and I was on my way!
The next server came in at four and was feeling poorly. More good news for me. She wanted to leave early and told her I would let her leave first and close. The other server came back around six and by that time I had already made thirty bucks. He was ready to go too so by seven thirty the owner cut everybody but me. It was slow but I had the reservation party of seven and they tipped me forty bucks. I had three other tables and by the Grace of God left with a hundred bucks in my pocket. I was talking with the owner after everyone was gone but me, the cooks and the bartender. Len was in his office looking at news on the Internet. He was looking at a news story about Philip Seymour Hoffman. He pointed to the screen and said "Here you go, this guy had a lot more money than you and look what happened." Len told me we had done exactly what we should have, cut our losses and keep our house note current. We can, and will work out the rest later.
He's exactly right. Money doesn't matter. Well, it does if you're broke like us but you can't worry about what you don't have. You simply need to do your best, have priorities and keep your head on straight. You need to roll with the punches and wear a helmet. Granted sometimes feel like I'm getting "Helmet Hair" but have resigned myself to the fact that life isn't always easy breezy but you know what? I'm happy. I have a wonderful husband, three great kids, a good job I love and loves me. I manage to laugh every day and have the good sense to realize how comical life can and often be. At least I'm living and that beats Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was really sad to read about him and have pondered the how and why? People have all kind of money and seem to end up a lot worse off than us.
I'll keep my life, thank you. It was great for a long time, been rough for a few years but has always been mine. I roll with the punches and thanks to lots of help from family and friends seem to be just fine. So what I'm a day late and a dollar short?
“There were people who went to sleep last night,
poor and rich and white and black,
but they will never wake again.
And those dead folks would give anything at all
for just five minutes of this weather
or ten minutes of plowing.
So you watch yourself about complaining.
What you're supposed to do
when you don't like a thing is change it.
If you can't change it,
change the way you think about it.”
― Maya Angelou
Til next time...COTTON