Monday, January 30, 2012

American Troubles

I have been stranded with a disabled vehicle twice on Interstate 70 in the past 4 days.

Two different vehicles
Two different causes
Two different places -- although the same county
Two long, slow drives home with a questionable vehicle (once in a tow-truck, once on a spare tire)
Two different amounts of help provided on the scene

One amazing factor consistent in both situations of my being stranded on the side of Colorado's busiest Interstates -- I was married to the most amazing, considerate, protective, calm and loving man in the world!

On Wednesday afternoon, my alternator died on the Interstate.  First my radio went off, then my car started lurching, then, before I could make it to the next exit, my car went completely dead -- just turned off while I was going 60mph on the Interstate.  (I was going 60, because my car started lurching when I accelerated, so I couldn't travel the posted 75mph speed limit).  My hubby was on the phone with me the entire time the car was dieing and he immediately knew my alternator was causing the trouble.  My amazing husband nearly left his classroom of students, got in his truck to drive the 60 miles to keep me company on the side of the road because he hated the idea of my having to sit on the side of a busy Interstate alone.  He was talking me through all the aspects of the situation over the phone and keeping me calm and logical.  I was on the side of I-70 for over almost two hours... my hazard lights died and the policeman who we asked to arrive on the scene to help attract attention to the scene for passing cars never showed up.  I was in my work car and it swayed every time a car/truck/trailer/SUV/semi whizzed past me in the right lane.  Four hours later, I was safely at my office, filthy, exhausted and feeling as though I had been through a ringer.  I just wanted to curl up in my hubby's arms and go to bed!

Last night, my driver's-side rear tire blew on my way home from skiing Vail and spending some time with my parents.  My hubby had spent the day on Vail Mountain with a group of Middle School students he organized for a Ski and Snowboard Outreach Program.  We were both headed home at the same time -- I with our puppy, and my Hubby with some of his students.  First my tire light came on, then I heard a pop... and then I had pulled over to the side of the road.  In no time at all, my hubby's truck had pulled over behind me and he was on the phone with the Local Authorities to let them know that we were on the side of I-70 working on a blown tire.  Two middle-schoolers kept our puppy calm and comfortable in my van while Chris and I found the spare, used the car jack and made the switch.  When I say "Chris and I" did those things... well, I wasn't even able to get the jack out of its compartment in my van without Chris' help -- does your car have a knob you have to turn to even get the car jack out of its compartment?  Apparently mine does!  Chris was amazing!  He did everything in no time at all.  Before I knew it, a tow truck had come and had his lights flashing to make sure that the other drivers were aware of our presence... it was over as quickly as it began.  The longest part of the ordeal -- driving 45mph with my hazard lights on the rest of the 70 miles home (while the other drivers were doing the posted 75mph speed limit)... those were LONG SLOW miles!  Two hours later, I had arrived home filthy, exhausted and feeling as though I had done the drive in horse-and-carriage instead of automobile.  I just wanted to curl up in my hubby's arms in bed!

I have to say, being stranded over 50 miles from my house with a disabled vehicle, on the side a major, busy Interstate twice in four days has taken a little toll on me.  Mostly, I don't want to drive on I-70 again for about a week!  The thing is, I drive on I-70 nearly every day... at least 4.5 days a week for work... often as many as 150 miles a day (almost entirely on I-70).  That being said, I know I have been so fortunate in these cases.  I have arrived home safely in each of these situations and not even so much as an animal has been hurt in the process.

As I reflect on both of these situations, I keep thinking that they were both unpleasant (although I did fall more in love with my hubby watching him change my tire and show concern for my well-being), and a hassle.  The thing that keeps coming back to me is that I had a relatively typical American Problem... my car broke down -- two of my cars broke down, once each, in four days.  This is what an American Problem looks like.

I have a great job.  I have a loving family.  I enjoy hobbies (like skiing).  I have an amazing, WONDERFUL husband.

My car(s) broke down doing my job, coming from seeing my family, coming from an amazing day of skiing, and my hubby was either literally or emotionally by my side the entire time, helping me in person or over the phone every step of the way.

In both of these cases, there were no trips to the hospital, no one was starving, no one was freezing to death (sure, it was a little cold outside the car, but nothing fatal), no children were in trouble, no one was sick, no one was in hiding, no one was being threatened or persecuted, no one was unloved... there were no real problems in my problematic, relatively annoying situation.

It is humbling to think of other places and situations in our world where people are in hospitals, starving, freezing to death, children are in trouble, people are sick, in hiding, threatened and persecuted, unloved...  My troubles are a few hours of time and a hassle to get my car working.

My troubles are not troubles at all.

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