Saturday, June 28, 2008

And The Message Is?

I'm supposed to be 40 miles away from here at a Girl Scout camp near the coast. I'm supposed to be at a mandatory Staff Training weekend. Instead I'm in bed with my computer, waiting for Hubs to come home from Boy Scout camp with DS#2 and DD#2.

Last night I made the fateful decision to take the small car to training instead of the van. The small car gets better gas mileage and, frankly, I prefer driving it. I loaded up my gear, gassed up (and noted that I'm getting 32 mpg--YES!), and headed off. Because of the fog and smoke, I had my headlights on.

The first weird thing I noticed: I couldn't see my headlights reflected in the back of the car in front of me.

The second weird thing: my radio cut out.

Okay, I figured a wire had come loose somewhere. It has happened before and normally I just have to jiggle a wire to get everything cooking again. Only the Bay Bridge is not exactly the place to do this. Nor is I-80 heading through The City. But when I took the exit to get to Highway 1 and the coast, I began to lose power. I exited and ended up in my old home town.

So I called AAA. My cell phone wouldn't connect. I had juice, I had bars, I couldn't ring anyone. Below me was a shopping mall. I went off in search of a pay phone. Inside there was a cell phone kiosk for my particular carrier.

"Can you take a look at this?" I asked. The young gentleman complied. He informed me that they had upgraded their SIM chips recently and that perhaps that was a problem. I was eligible for an upgraded phone. Did I want to do that?

Uh, no. I do want a new phone, and I know which one I want, but I'm not ready to get it yet. Especially if I'm going to have another repair bill.

Well, there wasn't anything he could do, so I set off in search of a pay phone. Found one and did the only logical thing I could do: called Mom. The connection was horrible, but I finally got her to understand what the problem was. I gave her the number of the pay phone and then I waited. She ended up calling BIL#2 who called me...on my cell phone. Mirable dictu! Whatever the guy in the kiosk did while he was poking around the innards of my phone, it worked.

I keep jumper cables in my car because this one does not have a reminder chime if I leave my headlights on. Consequently, I've done that more than once, so now I carry cables. BIL#2 gave me a jump, then followed me to Mom's house. DD#1 was home and came over to pick me up because I didn't trust the car to make it either to home or to Camp.

It's either the alternator or the battery because it doesn't seem to be holding a charge.

Our van is home. I could have taken the van and driven down to Camp this morning (or really late last night) and then dealt with my car on Sunday. Hubs is due home this afternoon, probably around five or six o'clock. He should be receiving a text message to call me once he gets cell phone reception himself. And there's probably nothing we can do about it tonight.

On the other hand, maybe there is. Or we can get an early start on the problem tomorrow--because there's no cell phone reception at the Girl Scout camp either. (I called the Camp Director and left the abbreviated version of the problem on her voice mail.)

So... which decision was better? Was I supposed to make a heroic effort to get to Camp Training? I hate missing it because this is where we meet fellow staff members and plan our events and activities for the week. We get a feeling of the strengths, weaknesses, and overall philosophies of the women we're going to be living with for ten days. I'm going to be going in "blind," as it were.

On the other hand, come Monday, I need my car. (I've also noticed that next weekend is a "make up" weekend. We had talked about going to visit Hubs' family, though. Which I don't really mind if I miss. But I feel guilty about sending him up there with the kids by himself. Unfortunately, visiting his family falls into the category of "duty visit" rather than pleasure.)

At least the car broke down in familiar territory. If I had called AAA, I might have tried to get to camp and have broken down in the middle of nowhere. I was safe, the car was safe, and my mom gets the benefit of having a car in her driveway for a couple of days, discouraging the neighbors from parking there. And I got to spend time talking with DD#1, discussing philosophy and life and plans. She's an interesting young adult and we don't often get time alone together. I worry about that. I worry about her, although she doesn't like the fact that I do. (I'm a mom--what can I say?)

I know God often has to use a "clue-by-four" to get my attention. If this was one, it was a dandy! On the other hand, the car is 18 years old and has over 180,000 miles on it. Breaking down at inconvenient times is what older cars do.

Guess I'll have to wait and see...