Souped Up Car:

U are not the car U Drive

I once took a substitute teaching job where I had to travel a highway and then at least half the one-hour and thirty minutes over winding, Amish country roads. I had a vehicle with excellent gas mileage and enjoyed driving but three hours in a car was awfully early later that winter on some very sketchy, icy, bumpy snow squalling treks. As fall turned to late October, some new school friends and I went out for coffee. We all hopped in a friend’s vehicle. On the way home, my friend and mentor began to tell a story of delicious broccoli and cheddar soup, and the unfortunate near-missed accident that saved them yet notsomuch the soup. Flying all over the car, the stench was unbearable! They tried professionally cleaning it, air fresheners, and cleaning it yet again. However, the putrid scent of curdled, absorbed cheese, milk, and broccoli, lingered. They were so grateful that the car had kept them safe, yet the smell was now choking them! We had to laugh, imagining such an awful lot to be in, yet were thankful our friend was still here to relay the tale.

That upcoming weekend, my husband and I attended a professional football game, Eagles/Bills, in Bills Mafia territory, we the Eagles fans. We had a super time, even in the icy rain, and returned with the W. Quietly, we ate Barbeque among the unsettled local fans, and made our way toward home, about an hour or so. About thirty minutes were left to traverse, and I had grown accustomed to my husband’s snores just a few miles ago. Then, out of nowhere, a large buck jumped in front of the car. A BIG boy with at least six points for sure! The thud woke my husband, super startled, and I now crying as the deer in front of us hobbled in the headlights, badly injured, yet he managed to somehow leap into the jet ink void among the fields to our right. There was no way to find him and my car was still running but pretty banged up, fur and blood, and probably something we should in no way have driven home. The news came quickly with after photos and inspection from the insurance company-a total loss. My husband had an A to B car for his short commute to work, but what was I going to do?! I had no rental on the insurance, no family within almost four hours, no friends in this new place with the exception of the women who had just had coffee together a few days before.

Ironically, we had a few weeks earlier left a car dealer very disappointed as we were considering selling the car to find one with lower miles that would be good for this long commute this year. We were denied a loan and insulted by the tone the dealer took with us as well. We knew from that meeting that we couldn’t get a loan together for even a used vehicle. What was I to do?

As if a miracle from God, and one I still consider it to this day, one of those handful of work friends contacted me. Her husband was working from home these days, and their rental was just next door to the school. They honestly didn’t really need their car for a while, most days. I could borrow the car until I found one or a different situation to help me commute. There are folks who will let you borrow their tools, and I’ve heard of some who will lend you the shirt off their backs, but this! Who on earth lends you the car out of their driveway?! These folks. I am convinced angels are real. If you knew this couple, you would surely agree. I would drive the broccoli and cheddar soup mobile, fresh with a new air freshener, but the legacy of soup gone by remained. It took at least three weeks for only a hint of rot to remain, and I was never so grateful just to have a car, a safe, easy running, no frills vehicle, that had been all souped up just a handful of days before. Only God could have cooked up a story this good and had such a sense of humor in it!

For at least a month and a half, I borrowed a car they had paid cash for, put snow tires on, and even paid for an oil change, to drive to and from school, all those miles and wear and tear, no questions asked. Eventually, my father let me borrow his Mercedes that had been sitting in a car lot in Syracuse, and making sure I took excellent care of that car was another miracle, for I’d never driven such a pretty, clean, and fancy vehicle. He cosigned a loan, and I was able to purchase another used car just before Christmas. I had such anxiety those few months and yet the entire time, I was totally taken care of. I had nothing to worry about and was entirely and completely blessed.

My commutes to that school ended on March 13, when Covid-19 came in early 2020, and so ended too the friendships and momentum of relationships I built with my students. All came to a deafening halt. I would never teach with my car angels nor other beautiful colleagues again. Later that June I returned to the classroom for a quick few hours to clean and clear the classroom, take my belongings, and move on. I would have to find a new teaching job as that one was just for a year, a maternity leave. God knows exactly the helpers you need in your life to walk with you through the hard times.

The next time I crashed my car is another story and one for another chapter, one that changed my life and my identity, yet again, this time for good. This book is a result of that chapter, and that tale, one to share another day.

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