I’ve heard the phrase “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” expressed in several ways. I once heard, “the light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming right at you.” Another explanation is that there is a way out of the darkness or through the challenges. On Tuesday, I was floundering and felt that I couldn’t even begin to find my way to the tunnel. At one point I was sitting on a bench outside at my college, crying and feeling very alone. Let me back up and tell you what happened.
Sunday, we went to the Corn Maze. Jan and her kids rode with me, and as we were headed home I heard a beep. I thought it was my car telling me it wanted gas, but as I looked at the dash I realized my check engine light was on. The car was still running normally and all the gauges seemed fine. We laughed because the last time my car broke down, Jan was in the car with me. The next morning I drove to an appointment and called the car dealership to make an appointment for my oil change and have them check the light. As I started the car when I was leaving, the check engine light went out. I was so excited. I called my daughter and my friends proclaiming that my car was healed.
I drove on toward my work and I pulled off the interstate into the exit lane. Before I could get to the top, the car made some chugging noises and jerked a couple of times. As I rolled towards the light, I heard a pop and a puff of white smoke came out of my car like a smoke signal from an old western. The engine was running, but none of the gears worked. Soon the tow truck was taking my car to the dealership. Let’s just say that my experience with the service department was not a good one that day. They gave me a ride home and promised to look at the car as soon as possible.
I have been going to a local park and ride to get to my college classes this semester, so my daughter gave me a ride to the bus stop the next morning. I finished my first class and saw that the dealership had called. I called them back on the way to my next class. The news wasn’t good. The transmission would need to be replaced or rebuilt. The estimate was $3800. The blue book value of my car in good condition is about $2800. I dont’ have $3800 to repair it or enough to replace it since I could only sell it for about $800 at best. I still have to come up with $130 for the diagnostic labor to get it out of the dealership, plus a tow truck. All of that to say, I no longer have a running vehicle.
This is where the sitting on a bench alone in the middle of school campus and crying comes in. Some very kind maintenance people working outside that day came to check on me, offered me coffee, a ride home, smiles, and wishes for a better day. I called my daughter and she helped me realize that this was not the end of the world. She assured me that she and her husband would be there to assist until I could figure out the next step. She was caring but wouldn’t let me give up on school and work. I have been without my car for 5 days now. I miss my car; I loved that car.
Yet, I haven’t missed work or school. I have everything I need. I have a place to live and money to pay my bills. My daughter has been strong for me and is working with me to use her car when she doesn’t need it. Her husband is changing his schedule a bit to drop me off and pick up at the bus stop on school days. My 16 year old grandson gave me a hug, told me he loved me, and asked if I wanted to use his car…his very special car that he loves. They have all encouraged me been there for me. My son has offered his help. He found a program that may be able to get my car on the road. He made the contact and is helping get the information and paper work.
My friend Jan, came today and picked me up for Friday adventure day. Funny thing happened on the way to adventure day; we went to the store, came out, and her car wouldn’t start. True Story! We found a nice man dressed in camouflage, driving a big truck, with jumper cables and he was able to get the car started. We spent about an hour getting a new battery with a very talkative, somewhat clumsy sales person, who installed the battery. We then rushed to pick up her children from school. They smiled and told me they had missed seeing me. Jan has encouraged me and checked in on me all week, in spite of a busy work week and activities.
My friend Sonia and another friend Erica have offered me their cars when they don’t need them and rides to work. Lindy has emailed, texted and offered encouragement. Other friends have offered ideas, let me know they are praying for me, and that I am not alone.
Yes, I don’t have a car in a world that requires a car to survive, particularity in a city with very little transportation options. I have no idea how or when I will be able to get my repaired or get another vehicle. Yes, I could get a car loan..maybe. I don’t really make enough money to qualify for a loan, but if I could find one, I couldn’t afford the payments. Yes, I do know this for a fact. Like all of my other friends, I am looking at Christmas coming very quickly and I need to put every dollar aside that I can for this car. I don’t know what I will be able to offer others this year and that makes me sad.
Yet, I am grateful and know that I am blessed. I have fairly good health for a woman my age. My mind is sharp (don’t ask my close friends about that) and I am fulfilling my dream of going to school. I love going to school more than I have ever loved anything I have done and I have a 3.82 GPA so far. Most importantly, I have family and friends that I trust and know in my heart love and care about me. There were times in my life that I couldn’t say that. While I may not be able to even find the tunnel right now, maybe I dont’ have to find it. And car or no car, maybe, just maybe, I am finding another way to get to where I need to be with the help of those people in my life.