[Note from the Proprietor:Â As the title indicates, this here is part 2. To get the context of this post, you'll need to click here and read part 1]
Desperation Provides the Key
Talk about being in a tight spot! Eventually things got desperate.
I called my mechanic friend again and asked if he’d look at it one more time. (If he couldn’t help me this time, well, I suppose we could always turn it over and, you know, put the little darlin’ out of its misery.)
Exercising my Faith once again, I headed for my friend’s house. By now, that stupid Capri (sound of teeth gritting) barely managed to make it down the road with its now near-continuous flickering electrical system – and this included the headlights, too. (Folks I passed no doubt wondered why I constantly flashed my lights at them.)
It was late in the evening by the time I arrived (I rarely drove anywhere at night anymore since the last thing I needed was to get stranded in the dark somewhere). Luckily, he didn’t live too far away. This time, though, he happened to be out in his front yard as I pulled into his driveway, which turned out to be fortunate.
Of course, the car (sound of gritting teeth once again) did its little flickering electrical thing again (accompanied by that buzzing, squirrel-shorting-out-a-power-line kinda noise). Fortunately, it managed to make it up the drive, where I shakily got out, sweat figuratively pouring off my brow. All I could think of was, “Thank you, Lord! I made it somewhere – anywhere – once again!”
That’s when my friend moseyed over, leaned casually against the side of the car, folded his arms and said the last thing I expected to hear. “You know what?” he said nonchalantly, “I think we just solved your problem!”
It’s a Sign!
Here’s what happened. As I pulled into his driveway, I heard and felt the flickering, but of course could never tell what was causing it. But from where he stood, he saw huge electrical sparks come flying out from underneath the engine!
Well, Bubba, I’m tellin’ ya, it was as good as a sign from above; it’s all we needed to know!
Armed with a couple of flashlights, we examined the underside of the car, and almost immediately spotted the offending item: a thick grounding cable whose insulation had been worn off where it rubbed against an engine mount. Although not normally touching anything, every time the car shook (as in going over bumps) the back side of the cable bounced against the metal, causing an electrical arc of epic proportions.
In fact, I think we caught it just in time; repeated arcing had nearly melted through the cable. Another couple of days and the car might have quit working completely – and who knows where I’d be stuck!
Voila! (which I believe is an old French word that translates roughly to well, why don’t you just hang me on a wall and call me Art). Problem solved! In no time we had that wire wrapped in electrical tape like a long, skinny mummy and secured in a better location. Presto! No more electrical problems! (Well at least, not that one again, since I replaced the damaged wire the next day.
You know what, though? I learned some very interesting truths out of this whole episode.
Things are always darkest before the dawn.
Surely, you’ve heard that expression, haven’t you? (And yes, I know: don’t call you Shirley.) I think we can all agree on the truism that things often seem the worst just before they get better. I’ve always wondered, though: How do you know when things are, you know, actually at their darkest? It’s kinda like wondering whether or not you have patience; it’s not something you can tell at the time, but only later, once it’s over and things have improved enough for you to look around and see it.
In this case, though, I needed darkness to solve the problem. Ironic, huh? (As you know, ironic is an ancient Gaelic expression that means made entirely of iron.) See, once the trouble began, I’d pretty much stayed home after dark, since I didn’t want to be stranded somewhere in the middle of the night. Of course, in daylight no one could see the big, hairy sparks flyin’ out from underneath the car! Once darkness fell, though, they became clearly visible.
It’s all about perspective.
Yet another key to cracking this particular nut boiled down to point of view. But here’s the thing: it couldn’t be mine; it had to be someone else’s! After all, there’s no way I could have seen those sparks, even if I had been driving at night. It took someone outside the car to look at the situation and see it with his own eyes.
Sometimes problems are like that, aren’t they? We have trouble finding a solution because we’re, well, ‘way too close to it. It’s the old “forest for the trees” syndrome. The lesson is important, though; don’t be afraid to ask our friends or trusted advisors if they can discern solutions we may have overlooked.
And then don’t be surprised when, you know, they do.
Saving the best for last, there’s yet one other interesting observation that came from all this.
In the midst of this episode, and as I, er, shared the story of my ongoing travails with a friend of mine at church one day (“shared” sounds so much more dignified than, you know, “ranted and raved”, don’t you think?), I happened to mention what I said above about “praying without ceasing”. Seriously, every time I got in the car, I found myself fervently praying that God would please help me make yet another mile.
My friend suddenly stopped me and, with a somewhat mischievous grin said, “Gee, maybe driving this car around has actually been good for you. You’re learning what it really means to depend on God, don’t you think?”
After the urge to throttle him passed, I had to sheepishly admit – it was true! (Besides, he was bigger than I was; my hands probably wouldn’t have fit around his neck anyway.)
So Tell Me a Story
What about it, folks? Ever experienced the “darkest before dawn” thing? Was it a long one or a short one? (Believe me, I’ve had some doozies over the years – including a really tough unemployment period that lasted 4 years!)
What did you learn from it? Did you have a friend help you through it? How did they help? How did you, uh, “take” their help – was it easy, or hard? When you’ve done everything you can possibly do, and you need to reach outside yourself… do you? And what about Mary Lou? (OK, I just threw in that last one.)
[Note from the Proprietor: This is my entry for this month's What I Learned From… groupwrite project. The topic this time is Transportation, and if you care to share something you’ve learned from anything that has to do with it, well, you’re welcome to join us. Don’t worry; you’ve got plenty of time; just click on the link and read all the details.