As I walked uptown towards work, I considered my situation and quickly realized that things could have been far worse. All I had to do was call The AAAuto Club after my shift for a tow, catch a ride back with the tow truck, and get to work on replacing the radiator the next morning. It had to be a quick project, though, because I had a job interview on Monday. Being only very partially employed at this time, I could ill afford to pass on any opportunities.
If the reader notices that I was not at all worried about obtaining a new radiator for the van between Saturday night and Sunday morning, permit me to reveal now the ace up my sleeve: I already had a replacement radiator. I had ordered it the previous summer, when a crack had developed in the very same upper hose outlet that had just failed. When I was able to repair that first crack and it was too late to return the new part, we simply kept it, boxed, and moved it with all our other belongings. Now it was tucked safely in the backyard shed, ready for installation.
First things first, though, and that meant the tow. I had my AAAuto Club card right there in my wallet, and…
Not there. $&*%. Urgent messages to the home phone and my wife’s mobile number, I’m fine, but guess what, need the number, gotta go…and I checked for return messages every service break that night. I finally heard back from my wife, and…wait a minute…expired? Since when? Oh, my…all summer, you say? Yes, renew it…put it on that other card, still plenty of room on that one…okay, call me back. Back from break, finish clearing after dinner, lots and lots of plates and glasses, any volunteers to clock off early? YES. And by “early,” I mean 10 pm.
My wife called back with the new account number and the assistance number, and I spent the greater part of my walk back to the van on the phone with the AAAuto Club representative, trying in vain to listen on a city street and write in a notebook in the dark. I finally got them to understand where the van was, what I needed to have happen, and that I realized there would be extra mileage charges since I was “out-of-state.” What was I, 15 miles from home? Ah, the perils of life in a border town. They would call me back when the tow truck driver arrived. I found a convenient spot indoors to wait for the call. And by “convenient spot,” I mean a pub. Sure enough, midway through my first pint, my mobile phone rang; the tow truck driver was at the vehicle. No one should ever have to drink stout as quickly as I did then, but somehow I managed. It’s one of my many skills.
I hurried out to meet the driver, who had a Portland air about him: portly, jovial, bearded, and amiable. We got to talking (or rather he got to talking, given minimal prompts) and it turned out that handling a tow truck (flatbed car hauler, actually) was only one of his many talents. He was also a semi-professional chef, specializing in private dining; a goat farmer; and he lived in a refurbished treehouse on his ex-father-in-law’s trailer home. Really, just a run-of-the-mill Portland resident. He may even have dabbled in bike repair and artisanal tattooing with reclaimed local ink, but we never broached the subject.
I got home late and cold, but safe, that night, and got ready for a day of turning wrenches and cussing on the morrow. Sunday may be a day of rest for many, but I had other plans for mine.