Pauper's Sky Post 10-1-03


Disciple of Soul
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Icon 12 posted October 01, 2003 11:09 PM      Profile for Mil   Email Mil   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 

Surely at least a few of you are wondering how McD zealot Mil could still not have posted a word a full four days after the amazing event that was the house concert Saturday night. However, I assure you this is no way a matter of procrastination; rather, it's the result of a tale that surely equals (or arguably tops!) the Steve Martin/John Candy film from which I've adapted this post's name...

As we informed several of our Chicago area acquaintances at the concert itself, on the way out from Jersey our car developed a problem about which we called our mechanic upon arrival. And, while he informed us that it should be a relatively quick and simple repair, to drive it in the meantime was to risk a critical belt breaking, which would with absolute certainty leave us stranded at any moment.

Needless to say, this prompted a bit of concern en route from our hotel to the show, and to a bit of socializing only a few miles away later that night. All went fine, however, and the next day we located an auto repair center that was actually open Sundays (we'd been given the name of a much more reputable mechanic we could contact on Mon., but were hesitant to mess up his schedule on such short notice, ask him to drop everything to find us a part, etc.). As a result, we ended up renting a car from Budget, dropping ours at this seven day auto repair place, and hoping that indeed all would be well by Monday morning, that we might head back East as originally scheduled.

Well, as often happens, "the best laid plans of mice men often go awry", and by the time we were informed mid-morning Monday that not only would the parts not be available until later that day, but the cost of the much more complicated than anticipated repair would be $1900, we started looking into the possibility of renting a truck and dolly to pull the car back home...which it turned out from the Chicago area would cost only a wee bit less than indeed having it fixed.

Figuring we had little to lose at that point, we opted to go with our admittedly rather rash "wing and a prayer" backup plan instead. In other words, we got in the car and headed off to see just how close to Jersey it might actually get us. After all, the noise signaling the problem had developed only two hours from home, and we still made it to the show. And, as commercials for the New York Lotto constantly remind us, "hey, you never know".

As it turns out, it got us to "20 Miles South of Nowhere" six hours into the journey...actually, that would be 20 miles south of Cleveland, Ohio, where we had to make our first stop for gas at the ""Towpath Travel Plaza" -- a place, incidentally, we have now come to know quite fact, should you ever be passing through Broadview Heights, OH on Rte 80 Eastbound as the 170 Mile Marker (I told you we got to know it well...) you might want to tell just about anyone working either the day or nightshift there that we said hi. I assure you, they'll remember us.

The reason they'll remember us, of course, is that we spent much of the next 24 hours in their establishment...not to mention borrowed the Travel Mart section's yellow pages at least 32 times, traversed the interior circumference of the entire building in search of the information clerk (who was almost never actually at the desk labeled "information" for whatever reason) probably something close to that, and basically ended up just plain making ourselves at home.

Anyway, our saga there began when we shut the car off to go into the plaza for a quick bite to eat, subsequently came out, started it up and drove only about 50 feet before it began smoking and quickly died. Fully expecting to see that the aforementioned belt had finally snapped, we both got out and peered under the hood, only to find the belt quite happily smiling up at us, perfectly intact. In other words, had we chosen the $1900 repair option, we'd still be sitting at the Towpath Service Plaza rather than tooling along on the road...which knowledge I must admit indeed provided our one moment of comfort. As the engine wouldn't consider starting for anything, however, and offered in the attempt a rather disconcerting rumble from somewhere beneath the car, we pushed it out of the plaza's roadway and into a parking spot, then headed back inside to decide what might be done.

About two hours and little success later, and with a Budget Rental truck and dolly tentatively lined up in Cleveland at noon the next day (IF indeed it became available at all -- no other rental companies we called even seemed remotely hopeful), we caught a cab to a nearby Super 8 Motel to wait out the night.

The next morning we walked to the nearby Richfield Family Restaurant and back to the motel in time to be picked up by a cab once more and heading up to Cleveland. There we indeed secured our waiting Budget Rental truck and headed back to the Towpath Service Plaza. Finally, things seemed to be proceeding without a hitch.

Of course, I should have noted in that prior statement an emphasis on "seemed".

When we arrived at the plaza, we backed the truck and dolly up to the car, and eagerly hopped out to begin loading it into place. Unfortunately, the little detail of needing to unlock the car and shift it into neutral reminded us we'd need the key...which, of course, we'd had with us for at least the bulk of the night before. But, after about a 20 minute search through every pocket, bag, crevice, nook, cranny, etc. within a roughly 5 mile radius, the ugly truth began to dawn. Somehow, somewhere, in repeatedly traversing the plaza, taking a cab to the hotel, walking to and from the restaurant, taking a cab to the Cleveland rental center, and driving the rental truck back to the plaza, we had undoubtedly lost it. And, yes, I realize that last term could quite easily have a double meaning at this point. Thankfully, however, I'm not the very easily "lose it" type.

That said, I must add that I think I may have to remove that essay some of you may have read on my website regarding my rather bumpy and largely negative acquaintance with my cell phone, as during this particular 24 hour period, I've gotta admit, we bonded in a way I'd never before thought possible. And, needless to say, this latest crisis with the key (or rather, lack of one) indeed strengthened the bond considerably.

In any case, after making so many calls that my battery was quickly diminishing to a very "little leak of light", God provided an angel for us in the form of a locksmith named Ken. Okay, he looked more like a thinner version of the recently passed John Ritter, but at the moment his image certainly fit that of an angel to me. Not only did he agree to perform the job (including driving from approximately thirty minutes away) for close to half what the only other place who would do it all had quoted, but after working in temps that were considerably more than brisk for over two and a half hours beside the car, he also stayed around and helped us push it up onto the dolly, secure it, and bid us farewell like friends.

Anyway, after we'd likewise bid farewell to all our new -- or rather, now quite old -- friends at Towpath Service Plaza, at last we were on the road again, in our trusty Budget Rental truck, heading for home...where we finally arrived in the wee hours of this morning.

In conclusion, I'll admit this isn't quite the tale I'd expected to be telling to describe our latest "whirlwind weekend" But, as the saying goes, "all's well that ends well", and as indeed I'm sitting here safe and sound at my computer, I assure you I have no complaints. Besides, in next to no time, I'm sure the memory of this whole experience will have been reduced to little more than a source of laughter - heck, it's pretty much been reduced to that in the paragraphs above. The memory of Saturday night at Kat's house, however, sitting in the midst of those likewise appreciative of the gift that is the present, enjoying every note of Michael's amazing music floating out across the brisk night air -- THAT will be recalled in quietly sober reflection...and truly treasured...for many years to come.

Thanks to every person who was part of that special night and/or made it possible -- of course, most notably Kat and Wayne.

And, as always, of course, my very utmost thanks to Michael.


P.S. I'll put together/publish a page on the whole evening on as soon as time regard to which it should be noted, we got a new camera for this event and the pictures turned out great!

Posts: 8 | From: NJ | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged