By Troy Rampy, Editor, The Wellness Blog™
Several years ago, my family and I were on our way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. We didn’t know that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest traffic day of the year. Especially if you leave late in the day. And now we were learning about it the hard way, by adding our own stopped car to the parking lot that was normally I-80.
Given all the traffic, we hoped to make the usual three-and-one-half-hour trek from Grass Valley to Santa Clara in about five hours … or maybe six. Oh my. This was turning into a nightmare.
Then, just outside of downtown Sacramento, as we were taking an alternate route on I-5 south toward Stockton in an effort to avoid the traffic on I-80, things got worse. A lot worse. First, all the emergency dashboard indicators went red on my 10-year-old BMW. Then two telltale plumes of steam started to shoot out both sides of the hood. Luckily, we were approaching a freeway off-ramp.
Now, while luck may not be a word you’d think to use in relation to anything involving red emergency lights and steam, it was to become our talisman for rest of the day. Because something was about to happen that would change everything and would shape the events of the next few hours.
I can’t tell you exactly why, but my attitude and expectations inexplicably changed from “Oh, what a catastrophe” to “Oh, what an adventure”. I started to actually experience this entire event as high adventure! And I’m sure that my attitude and expectations, in some sort of Law of Attraction way, helped to create one of my family’s best ever Thanksgiving experiences …
I pulled off the exit and into a nearby parking lot just as a small crowd of young adults was coming out of an adjoining building. As I gingerly stepped out of my car and opened the hood, I heard a very excited “Woooaahhh!” from an animated young man who was leading a contingent of these young adults as he and I watched a big cloud of hissing steam gush out.
The young man and his friends were students at a school for the mentally disabled. They were done for the day and were headed for their Thanksgiving holiday. They were in a festive spirit and this was one of the funniest things they had seen all day: some middle-aged guy with clouds of steam billowing out from under the hood of his car.
My son Adrian, who was five at the time, didn’t know whether to be more entertained by his father’s dilemma or by this group of interested, and interesting, young people who were now swarming all around the car and were as equally interested in the live steam as they were with the occupants of the car. While my wife stayed in the car with the children, I went into the building with one of the students who introduced me to his teacher.
This teacher could not have been more helpful. He pulled out a local phone book and also offered a recommendation for a BMW mechanic he knew that might be willing to help us with our car … even now at three P.M. on this Wednesday before Thanksgiving!
I called the mechanic. He had a thick Eastern European accent and, once I described our car problem and our family-related plight, he said he would be willing to help … if we could get the car towed over within the hour.
The teacher once again came to my rescue by suggesting a local tow service. I called and the largest tow truck I’ve ever seen showed up within about 15 minutes. The driver carefully cranked my inoperative car onto the back of his huge, flatbed tow truck. As my wife, two children and I sat with the driver on the gargantuan front seat of his truck, he told us his story on the way to the mechanic’s shop. It turns out he was a graduate of UC Berkeley but was now driving this tow truck.
The mechanic was a BMW specialist. He immediately identified the problem — a blown water pump — and said that he happened to have in stock exactly the right replacement parts … hallelujah!
As we discussed the blown water pump, he also told us his story about coming from Europe and leaving behind friends and family. Then he said it would take about two hours to fix our car.
By this time, the four of us were getting hungry. As luck again would have it, we were just a couple miles from a friend’s favorite Japanese restaurant. So the mechanic called a taxi for us and we were on our way. En route to the restaurant, the taxi driver told us his story, including the fact that this was going to be his last day driving a cab before starting a new job the following Monday as a stock broker.
The meal was great and the same taxi driver returned to give us a ride back to the mechanic’s shop. Our car was ready. We gratefully, and profusely, thanked the mechanic and then continued on our otherwise normal journey.
That Thanksgiving was ever so much more meaningful to us. We were “lucky” to have met and shared stories with so many wonderful people. We felt we expanded our definition of family that day. And we were “lucky” to have had so many pieces fall easily into place.
All-in-all it was a lesson in living life as we secretly all know it can be lived. It really is about our attitude and expectations. And we really can live our life every day with exactly that kind of magic and synchronicity. Now that is something to truly be thankful for …