Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Death of A Car

The day started at 5:40am. I woke up and just started to get ready for the day ahead. Normal, just normal, brushed my teeth, combed my hair, shaved, dressed up in a collared shirt, emailed work for the plans of my day. I prayed and invited God to be in everything of today.

The plan was, to drive up north to go to court in Lamont Ca, then plead innocent for a citation, drive to work, work, then go home. Then pray, think, and pray and worship.

After leaving home, I filled up my tank and started heading north, two hours in and so close to Lamont, California, just shy of 20mi  from my destination when suddenly, "CHUCHAAAAA!" The sound of a hissing cough reverberated through my dashboard, I looked over and the oil light was lit like a angry red lamp. The car stalled... I immediately hit the cautionary lights on the dashboard as I slowly lost momentum to move forward, uphill, three lanes to the right, on the Interstate 5 Freeway. Everything happened so fast. I was careful to observe all the surrounding traffic and road. The shoulder I ended up on was adjacent to the end tail of a freeway entrance.

The Death

I sat in my car for a few moments. I prayed. I called my sister and asked her for some insurance information. I dialed the number, after a few more key presses, going through the menu, a representative from Farmers speaks and asks me how she could be of some assistance; asked for a tow. After getting all the information she needed she placed the request and immediately asked if there was anything else she could help with I asked her for advice... "what should I do about my court appearance?" She replied: "I don't think I could give you advice about that." I immediately called the Kern County Court in Lamont... the answering machine said, "the Kern County Court of Lamont will be closed on March 31st for Ceasar Chavez day." I was perplexed, so I prayed.

I waited patiently in my car and I noticed that it started to rain, lightly. The rain drops were so light that they fell like bubbles. They were floating sideways, like tiny dancing feathers and landed with such grace only to end up on my windshield as dew. They weren't raindrops. It was snow. I delighted in the sight of these flakes of water landing on my car as a blessing. The cold air gently gently guiding each transformation of states, a unique crystalline structure to water, just like every water drop.

Snowing in TowingIMG_9907

The tow truck arrived soon enough, I had not noticed because I opened the hood briefly to see if there was anything I could do for the car. He lowered the tow bed and appeared at my side and asked me to just come out and leave the keys in the car. I did. I came out of the car and left the keys in the ignition. It had occurred to me that I had done something quite laughable. I had left the keys in car... indeed, this is what he had asked me to do; I locked the door. I stated, "Umm, I just did something stupid..." the driver, with his unkempt mustache, replied: "oh, that's a problem." He finished attaching everything he could to my car in that step, in order to affix it to the truck. The following step required a call to his co-worker, to bring the tool to unlock the door. After getting everything done, he began to lift the car up and further prepare it for it's eventual demise.

I was sitting at the passenger side within the truck. I decided that it was too far to tow the truck all the way home as I knew that I home was 160mi away. He told me of an auto shop that could potentially fix my car, and perhaps, maybe I could be on my way to court. So he drove us up the hill, close to four miles and proceeded to enter the hidden hills of Frazier Park. A small pleasant town with erratic springtime weather and nice people.

The Heart of the CarIMG_9912

When we arrived at the auto shop, the mechanics took a look at where the oil should have been on the engine's dipstick. They then took a close look at the spark plugs and  inner workings of the car, while checking the pressure of each cylinder. The the oil and pressure were non-existent. Sludge covered the second to fourth plugs and I was still hopeful, that the heart of this loyal machine, would beat again. As I eluded previously in this story... it didn't. I prayed.

I then started to ask Tabitha, the garage manager and wife of the owner, what options I had. She looked at me from across her desk, in her green knitted sweater and told me, with an upbeat voice: "You could either, get a new engine, have this one rebuilt , or just junk the car." She was kind to me about my situation in her honesty. I asked her if there was any way I could be compensated for the, "junk" that I would leave. She was so helpful and got me all the details I needed. I called my sister again and asked her what to do, she referred me to our mother.

My mom is a dreamer and a doer. She's hopeful and realistic in most circumstances. In this one she was ready to just come in and save her son. She asked me what my plans were. I replied, "I was thinking of leaving the car, then hitching and riding my bicycle to the nearest train station." She was appalled and insisted on picking me up. I gave her the incorrect address and my mother and father eventually found their way through town and came to my rescue. They are such amazing parents. I can't thank them enough for all they do for me.


After the call with my mom, I knew I needed to eat. I asked Tabitha if there was a place around with free wifi; I knew that there were a few things I needed to finish and deliver and I was determined to just get those things done. She recommended a cafe down the hill from us called Coffee Cantina. Its a cozy cafe with yellow earthy toned ocher walls. I thank God so much for that place. I was able to finish up some work.


We emptied the car of stuff, we said our farewell to Tabitha, the garage, and the owner. The drive back was pleasant and beautiful, I could see that flowers were blooming on the hillsides. The yellow and green hues just accented and complimented each other in the bright afternoon sun. A few hours later, we were in Long Beach, my father had to go to work and so we parted ways with him, then my mother and I proceeded to drive toward the Toyota dealership in Anaheim, off the Ninety One freeway and Euclid. We had discussed earlier on the trip back that I just needed a new car.

To be continued...


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