safe landings

This evening was filled with an annoyance that, while it seemed rather big at the time, in the grand scheme of things is not that big of a deal.  My car died ... and had to be towed to the mechanics where it is now waiting to be diagnosed.

But let me step back a bit.  This evening after work, I drove over to the home of one of our CSJP Associates who joins my house every few weeks, along with another Sister and Associate, for dinner, conversation and prayer.  In the parlance of religious life, this is often known as "community night," a sacred time.

I was picking her up because driving isn't so easy for her anymore, but she still enjoys our time together.  She lives close to Seattle Center and what Seattleites know as the "Mercer Mess," a mess of streets that is notorious for icky traffic.  They've been reconfiguring the mess so the construction has made it even worse.  There was lots of stop and go.  Mostly stop, not much go.  We had plenty of time before we needed to be at Grace House for the scrumptious meal prepared by one of the other Sisters I live with, so we took the time to catch up.

Eventually we made it very close to Grace House.  At the bottom of the particularly steep Seattle hill where we live, my car felt a little funny, almost like it skipped a gear.  It was drizzling so I had the windshield wipers running.  We made it up the hill, but the car felt strange and the wipers started to m-o-v-e  v-e--r---r---y  s-l-o----w--l---y.

Whew.  Top of the hill achieved, I pulled to the corner so she could get out easily, across the street from our house, with the toe of the car in the intersection.  Stupidly, or smartly, I turned the car off after she was safely on the sidewalk, thinking turning it off and on might fix it.  Of course, I was thinking computers not cars.  I turned the key.  The car was having none of it.  It was done.  Finished.  No go.

So I encouraged my friend to go into the house.  I pulled out the cell phone, called AAA, and arranged a tow which was "expedited" because having the toe of my car in the intersection meant I was partly blocking traffic.  Expedited of course meant 40 minutes.

I waited in the car with the hazzards on, hoping folks didn't hit me as they turned the corner--there were a few near misses--while community night started inside.  They offered to bring me food, but I figured the whole enterprise wouldn't take too long.  I did ask one of my community members to bring me the book I've been reading.

Sure enough, eventually the tow truck came, along with a very dark cloud and a gigantic bucket full of rain. I pulled out my phone to call one of my housemates who was going to follow the tow truck with me to the mechanic so I could leave my keys and car there.  Her cell phone was on silent so she missed the call.  I then pulled up the house number on the screen and was ready to call when the rain made my smart phone start thinking for itself.  I saw the number of the house, but before my finger could hit the touch screen a rain drop would touch the screen and it would make another of my contacts a "favorite."  This went on for what seemed like hours while the tow truck driver hooked up the car, mere seconds in reality I am sure.  So I went across the street, up the steps to the house, and rang the door bell until one of my housemates came to the rescue.  In the meantime, the buckets of rain had made swift business of my water resistant rain coat.

To speed up the story, we made it to the mechanics behind the tow truck who was obviously following his GPS directions and went up and down very scary roads, corners and bumps in the night that I wouldn't want to do while towing a little hyundai accent.  I closed my eyes a few times (thankfully Chero was driving.) We made it, and he got my car into the corner of the mechanic's parking lot by driving backwards with great skill.  (Read, I again closed my eyes).  I filled out the form, put my keys in the envelope and dropped it in the slot before getting into Chero's car and driving back with her to our house where I put on dry clothes, helped myself to a heaping bowl of warm chilli and joined the end of a great conversation.

Whew.  So that's the story of my evening.  Thanks for allowing me to backtrack, but here's the main point.  Yes, this is a slight annoyance.  But I have community to support me.  Just as the car miraculously made a soft landing up the hill almost to the door of the house before it died, my post-car-dying experience in the next few days, while inconvenient, will also be a soft landing.  I know of what I speak.  When I was a singleton, I dealt with multiple car issues.  When an uninsured driver side swiped me, or when a tree came out of nowhere to knock my side mirror off to name a few. I remember thinking ... how am I going to afford the repairs?  How will I get where I need to go in the meantime?  I have walked the path of having to sort all this out by my lonesome.

Now I have what I sometimes think of, parodoxically, as the luxury of poverty.  It's not all up to me to sort this out.  Yes, I will still need to walk through all the steps.  First thing tomorrow I need to call the mechanic and ask them to diagnose the problem.  I need to call our community car folks to let them know about the problem, check to see whether we want to fix this car or not, then confer with the mechanic again, and eventually ask the community to transfer the money to our house account so I can pay the bill.  In the meantime I need to call groovy sister hq and see if there is another community car I can use this weekend.  The last one is the stickiest part of the inconvenience, as I'm planning to drive down to Portland this weekend for my god-daughter's first communion on Saturday before driving back to Seattle in time to give a presentation at a local parish on Sunday.

Ultimately however, I have the safe landing of community in many ways.  Sometimes when people find out I am a Sister, they look wistfully at me and make some comment about all I've given up.  But I look at my life, at the members of my community who I can celebrate or commiserate with, at the wealth of experience and opportunity that comes from sharing our resources, at the web of relationships that enliven and support me, and I think of all that I've gained.

Still, I would be a much happier camper if none of this happened and if we'd just been able to park the car, head into the house, and had our regular community night.  But life is just a wee bit messier than that!

1 comment:

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

All worked out. Car is fixed. Will be able to drive south to my goddaughter's first communion this weekend after all!