Archived Story

Always consider potential what if situations arising in life

Published 7:29pm Thursday, February 21, 2013

“When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open. And in that breaking open, we uncover our true nature.”
~Wayne Muller

It was every single woman’s worst nightmare: midnight, a dead car on a deserted mountain two-lane road, no phone service, and freezing winds howling through a rocky gorge. Yes, that was me last Saturday night.

I know you readers out there in Bulletin land get a steady supply of my orange slice o’ life tales inspired by whatever happens ‘in the moment’: dropping hot pizza on the back steps, adopting another rescue pup, car troubles, ocean breezes, art, along what’s going on in town. In sharing my own trails, travails and tales, I hope to inspire and encourage you — this time in thinking about ‘what if.’ What if something really does happen — that thing we all dread?

I’d been down in South Carolina’s peaceful horse country for a lovely late-evening dinner party with friends. At night I’ll take the interstate up the mountain sometimes, but this time figured I’d be fine following a car-load of friends to Tryon where I waved good-bye and headed up the narrow winding two-lane. Passing the twin bridges, I felt the car lose power. Hmmmm. Pushing the gas pedal wasn’t working. Nothing. Dead car, in the road on a blind curve, no clearance on the side to roll back into. Trying in vain to restart the car, it was no-go. A bad dream!

Flashers on, muddling in the dark interior, I hunted the cell phone in my pocketbook, AAA card and glasses so I could see the phone and card, all the while anxiously watching behind me for lights. Would I be rammed? Of course, at that time of night, there was no traffic, but just the thought had me shaking. As did bitter cold. Clumsily punching AAA’s 1-800 number, 911, *HP, my son’s cell number got nothing: no service in the gorge. Walking up the freezing incline, a faint temporary bar showed,  enough to get AAA’s recorded message. Then the phone lost service … fingers shaking, I kept punching on and on: until by miracle reaching my son, enough to get him on his way.

During the long wait on that deserted silent road, I lost my initial fear and felt a sense of ‘this will be OK.’ The night was clear black velvet spangled by sparkling stars; the river rushing steadily alongside. Bone-chilling, but so vast and beautiful — I would have missed those moments otherwise. Finally, my son parked behind with warning lights, a lone passerby was good Samaritan and promised to call the highway patrol when he got up to town.

To make a long story short, the nice patrolman summoned AAA with a flat-bed trailer: he stayed  almost an hour on the scene with blue lights flashing. Never have I been so glad to have those blue lights behind me! It was after 3 a.m. before I crawled in the sack, with a feeling of gratitude of being safe and sound. As I lay there, it dawned on me that if I’d been on the interstate, it could have been disastrous: a suddenly-dead car in three lanes of speeding traffic? Ouch. It was bad enough that it happened where it did: but sometimes the universe looks out for us, whether we realize it or not.

After this tale, I encourage all  of you to have a little emergency kit: this could happen to any one. Have water. A blanket. Phone. Cables. A good working flashlight. A flare. A satellite phone! And the list goes on. Long ago, I used to carry an emergency kit that my dad had given me. Maybe it’s time to get another.

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