Thursday, June 2, 2011

Alternate Realities


This is what could have happened last night
:

Eiledon has a band concert. My in-laws have come into town and the plan is to drop Gavin at a friend’s house (he can’t do band concerts), pile everyone into my car, and head downtown. After pizza, I run Gavin to Ethan’s and circle back to pick up the other four passengers.

Traffic is horrible—a real drawback to having a child in school downtown with a concert scheduled for right after the evening rush hour. Can’t be helped. We sit and then crawl, sit and then crawl, sit and then crawl. I start to get nervous that Eiledon will be late and wonder if I shouldn’t sneak off and take back roads. Dan discourages it. It won’t be any faster. I know he’s right, so I stay the course.

We finally make it to 394 where inbound traffic is much looser. Then somewhere past Highway 100, thick, white steam begins pouring from the hood of my car and the distinct odor of coolant fills the cabin. My temperature gauge starts heading north and the car is now vibrating in an uncomfortable fashion.

I swear out loud. Right in front of my eleven-year-old and my in-laws. Eyes darting frantically from mirrors to dashboard, I duck over three lanes of traffic and pray silently that I’ll make Penn Avenue before a total meltdown. Dan and his parents are firing off questions. Eiledon escalates to hysteria, babbling about the car and the freeway and her concert and—I snarl at her to shut up.

Easing the car onto the shoulder at the top of the exit, I throw it into park and kill the engine. It’s now 6:10 and Eiledon is due at school at 6:15. Pulling out my Triple A card, I’m pretty certain that the concert isn’t going to happen.

Wes suggests calling a cab, which arrives before the tow truck and I send the four of them off, hoping they’ll make it in time. I get to ride the tow truck back to Bloomington and miss my daughter’s final performance of the year. The garage says they’ll call when they know what’s wrong and gives me a courtesy lift home.

Ethan’s mom is nice enough to drive Gavin home and the other four show up around 9:15pm having made it to the concert, which, apparently, was wonderful. Frustrated, disappointed and worried sick about money, I make my apologies and take my sorry self to bed.

The next morning after getting everyone out the door, I see that the mechanic has left a message on my cell phone. The car radiator has gone kablooey and it’s going to be $400 to repair it. I dread having to call Dan and have the conversation we’ve had half a dozen times before when our 14- and 16-year-old cars have had an inevitable mechanical issue. Do we fork over? Or try to find some way to fit a car payment into our budget (HAH!)

MAN, life SUCKS sometimes!

---

This is what actually happened last night:

Eiledon had a band concert. My in-laws had come into town and the plan was to drop Gavin at a friend’s house, pile everyone into my car, and head downtown.

Dan came barreling into the house at 5:30 and I realized the impracticality of the plan. Instead, I decided to take Eiledon in myself, since she had to be there early, and let Dan drop Gavin off and follow later with his parents, since they didn’t need to be there until 7:00pm.

Traffic was horrible—that part was true. So I ducked off on Highway 7 and wound my way to 394 at Louisiana. I can’t prove it was any faster. We got downtown at exactly 6:14 and as I crossed 10th Street on Hennepin Avenue, thick, white steam began pouring from the hood of my car and the distinct odor of coolant… you get the idea.

Honestly? I wasn’t even ruffled. I just ducked into the alley behind the FAIR school and sent Eiledon running in, then zipped back out to round the block to the parking garage under the building. As I went, the temperature gauge started heading toward the red and I just hoped I could make it into the lot.

Once safely parked, I called Triple A. They would be there within 45 minutes. I might miss the first part of the show, but Eiledon’s band performed last, so no worries. Dan and his folks arrived just as I got the call that the tow truck was there. They grabbed the seats I’d been saving and I dashed outside to meet the very nice guy from Bobby & Steve’s Auto World. Within five minutes the car was gone. I didn’t even have to pay for parking.

The concert was wonderful. I got to see Eiledon sing two pieces with a choir, sit with her during the Beginning Band portion, and then hear her excellent 5th and 6th Grade Band play some pretty complex and exciting music. Car? What car?

Dan’s Volvo fit the five of us nicely and we made it home by 8:45, at which point Dan and his dad went off to pick up Gavin. I made coffee and cut brownies, chatting easily with the ladies. When the men arrived home, we sat and talked and laughed and ate and drank and really enjoyed each other’s company.

Bobby & Steve’s called my cell phone at about 9:30 with the news about the radiator and the $400 estimate. Even then I wasn’t really upset. We’d find some way to work it out. I slipped back into the dining room looking a little chagrined and Dan asked, “What did they say?” So I told him.

Dan’s Dad said, “We can take care of that.” Dan immediately declined, not wanting to put his folks on the spot. “Yes we can,” his Dad insisted. “Nate (Dan’s brother) is flying out to Washington, D.C. for a conference and we just bought him a plane ticket for $400. We were going to cut you a check for that amount anyway, to keep it equal.”

Um.

MAN, life is AMAZING sometimes!

4 comments:

  1. What's that line in some book? "Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today..."? Oh, yeah... ;)

    Wonderful attitude, wonderful outlook, wonderful results. Funny how the facts can be the same in two situations, and yet the outcomes are so very different...

    Kudos to you lady!

    ReplyDelete