Last Thursday I had the privilege of taking our family car into the mechanics. We just bought this vehicle about 2 months ago but the head lights were acting up. Whenever my husband drove it things were fine. Whenever I drove it the passenger headlight would flicker in and out. One morning it was really foggy here and it was tricky driving without the headlight. So I convinced my husband that it needed to be addressed.
My two year old loves going to the mechanics because they have a train table and all kinds of old toys. It is usually a two hour minimum stay with usually a two hundred dollar minimum bill. So I settled in for the morning.
We arrived at 9:00 am, Ben immediately began playing and I settled in with a book I had just downloaded. Around 10 Ben wanted a snack so we dug for some quarters and twisted the dial of the M&M dispenser. He and I did a few puzzles together and then he was ready to play alone again. I continued to read.
Around 11 am I had Ben pick up all the toys hoping that we would be going home soon. As the last few toys were being placed in the toy box, the manager of the shop came over and sat down next to me. We have been going to these mechanics for several years. When they come over to talk with you it means that the car has a bit more wrong with it then originally thought. I braced myself for what he was about to say.
While the car had been off they were turning the lights on and off and retesting them and the battery was lower than it should be. They wanted to take the battery out and do a few tests on it to see why that was happening.
Sure, of course. Having a dead battery with a two year old and pouring down rain is never fun. This is why we come to these guys, they take really good care of us and usually only do what is needed, usually.
They offered us donuts from the break room as now it was lunch time and I hadn’t come prepared for that! Been had a bear claw and I enjoy a very cheesy cheese danish. (I can honestly tell you it was the best cheese danish I have ever had!) While we are finishing our pastries the assistant manager came out this time. He sat down, my heart began sinking.
It seems that there was water on the battery and that was what was making it act faulty, so the good news was the battery was fine, but the alternator was not. The alternator needed to be changed out immediately. They called my husband to tell him, I asked for the phone. I asked Tim to bring us McDonalds for lunch.
Ben settled into setting up the train station again, I continued to read my book. I am so thankful I had impulsively downloaded it the day before. Tim arrived with our lunch but had to run as he was still working. As Ben and I were finishing our lunch the assistant came out and sat down. I want to yell, roll my eyes, and curl up into a fetal position all at once. But thankfully he has good news, everything has been put back together, he points out to the parking lot, and there is our car ready to go! I just have to pay whenever we are ready to go.
We finish our lunch and I head up to pay. It was very expensive, disappointingly so, but what can you do? I watched the credit card slide and signed to have our nearly paid off credit card be exceedingly full again.
Ben and I loaded into our car. The sun was shining which was a bit remarkable as it had been raining for four days straight.
The original plan to the day was to go to the mechanics and then head over to the mall to return some items and have lunch at the mall and play at the play place there. Do I go to the mall or do I go home? It is 1:30 pm now, and we were just leaving the mechanics. Instead of being there for 2 hours we had been there for 4 ½!
I decided to just do it, most of the day had already been eaten up let’s just get one more errand out of the way, it would free up Friday more. We headed out. The gas tank was on empty. Of course it was!
I can feel myself slipping. Sliding down that hill of “Of course this has turned into a terrible, horrible, very bad day!” This never plays out well when I let myself slide down this hill. The gas station is just a few blocks away, we pull in, it is crazy busy, there is one slot. I pull up. The wind is cold and whipping. I am paying and pushing all the right buttons. The nozzle is removed from the holder and wait for it . . . it won’t reach! Are you kidding me?! I have to put the nozzle back, I pull the car forward and yes, you guessed it I had to start the whole transaction over.
Slipping slipping slipping. The car gets filled up. We head out again. As we drive the next 10 minutes to our destination I begin a conversation with myself. I remind myself how thankful I am that we were not on the side of the road needing to be towed because the car wouldn’t go. I was speeding along at 50 mph and yes it had been an expensive morning, but I was on my way to get some money back for a different purchase and the husband unit already knew so it wasn’t like I had to go home and break the news to him about how much the whole day was costing us.
We pulled into the parking lot of the mall. In my mind I was standing on top of the hill again, I had managed to not slip down any further. I put the car into park and turned around to find my son fast asleep in his car seat.
Now the debate: is it more important to wake up my son and return these items or should I just turn around and drive home? I decide we are here, let’s do it, he can sleep on the way home.
With a cheerful yet groggy side kick, I head into the mall. The returns were simple and painless. The little ice cream truck outside of the store was even driven by Ben for a few minutes. We climb back into the car, thankful yet again that the sun is still shining.
I decided to go home a different way than normal as there was no rush for us to get home and I was hoping that Ben would fall back asleep. I will save you all the gory details, but let’s just say I got lost, had to turn around twice and little man NEVER even nodded off once. 30 minutes later we were on one of our normal familiar streets we had one more big intersection to get through and nobody was moving.
We have traffic in our town, but not like this. Something was wrong. I thought about other routes to get home, but they all involved this intersection up ahead. Slide down the hill or embrace it? We chose to embrace it. As I leaned out my window I could see there were several fire trucks ahead in the turning lane. Ben is obsessed with fire trucks right now. We rolled down all the windows, opened the sun roof and creeped along the road. Eventually we were side by side the accident. Most of it had been cleaned up but it had involved a city bus and a truck that was spun the wrong direction. Ben and I said a prayer for the people who may have been affected by the chaos of this accident. Finally we were at the front of the line, the light turned green and home was truly within our sites.
We pulled into our driveway at 3:30 pm. Tim came out to meet us. He was already in his comfortable relax clothes which meant he had been home for a while. We sat in the living room and chatted for a bit, I explained about the car ride home, and how Ben never did take a nap.
I then, excused myself and said I needed a break, I put on my comfortable clothes and climbed into bed. I didn’t sleep but I did recount the whole day in my head. I realized a major victory had been won today. I had not allowed my circumstances to dictate how I felt. For some of you maybe you can do this all the time, but for some of us, it is really really hard. But today something had shifted inside of me. I truly was able to relax for a few minutes and just revel in the fact that this day could have gone so many different ways, but instead it had gone the way it had. The two things I had really needed to get done for my family had gotten done, just not in the way I had planned or anticipated.
Normally I ask you a question or try to challenge you in some way. Today I just want to encourage you. The next time you feel yourself slipping down the hill. Give yourself a minute. Take a breath and remember you are not alone. Think of this post, think of my story and know, we all have days like this, we all have days that cause us to make a choice. You have a friend who actually was able to make the right choice, so maybe you can too!