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A Story of Hope


With recent events including strife and illness making the headlines in America, hope is something that has been scarce in my life recently, as I am sure it is scarce in many people’s lives right now. But as the County of Mendocino begins to lift restrictions, hope is returning, like our freedoms to visit state parks, pools, gyms, and shops again are returning.

I saw Hope raise her beautiful head recently when I was having a series of unfortunate events, all involving cars. My daily-driver vehicle, a Dodge truck I named Raven, had her ‘check engine’ light come on, and so I took her to Starr Auto in Philo right away. I’m like an overprotective mom to my cars. I don’t mess around if something feels ‘off.’ That being the case, I also reclaimed my 1988 Olds wagon from my daughter to use while Raven was in the shop. My daughter, Cassidy, has borrowed that old car for the past six months. She was temporarily carless after losing her own car in an accident, and I have a couple ‘hobby cars’ so I loaned out dear Sierra the Wagon. But Sierra is a docile older vehicle not ready for the constant strain of frequent trips between Comptche and Fort Bragg. I ‘vibed’ that Sierra needed some TLC and retrieved her, only to find out her coolant light was on. Turns out she had a small leak in the reservoir. And thus began my tale of unfortunate events, from which hope could emerge.

Hope first showed itself when we were moving cars around in our driveway to attach the van to the horse trailer to do a big trash run. As we did so, I backed my 1976 Cadillac out of her spot, pulled forward, then put her in Park. I got out to create a new temporary parking spot for her by moving some logs. I went back to put the Caddy into gear to pull her into her new spot, and . . . nothing. The gear slid around with no traction. Likely a linkage issue. One I didn’t know how to fix. So there she sat rather obstinately in the dead center of the driveway, this 5200 pound car I named The Phoenix, (because she will rise again!), daring us to move her.

I contacted Ed in Boonville. (If you read the story of the stolen Flaming Green Pickle Bus published in the December 11, 2019 AVA, you may remember Ed to be the hero of that story). Ed was the hero again. He and his ex Therese were nearby in the afternoon and stopped in to see if they could help. Turns out those two are the dynamic duo, and they could help: they got the car out of gear and were able to get it going enough to pull it over so we could get the van/trailer out of the driveway. That was just the first time my hope was restored in the past week. Ed keeps winning the hero award with my wayward ‘fleet’ of old cars. Thank you Ed! And Therese was lovely and fun to talk to. What a gift to have them stop by and help out. I felt hope and gratitude when they came to rescue us from a such a ridiculous situation.

Next day I had to make a quick Ukiah run for supplies so decided to take the wagon since the truck was in the shop. Cassidy and I headed out, and I noticed the leak. We stopped at Jack’s Valley Store to get some Stop Leak. We put it in, and stopped a couple more times to cool down the car and add fluids. Finally, the car’s temp was stable enough for the trip. Up the 253 we went. Now, you know how stir-crazy things can get during quarantine, so we were smiling and happy about the perfect weather, beautiful day, wind in our hair. Until our tire blew out at around the 15 mile mark. We pulled over to assess the situation. Parking in the shade, we got out to find that the back passenger tire was shredded. We decided we could change the tire ourselves. We pulled everything out of the compartment, and started removing the hubcap. We could pull a section away from the tire, and then another, and then the hubcap would lock back in. I had a vague memory of the hubcap removal being complicated on this car for my past mechanics. I remembered there was a missing key to the hubcaps. All hope of doing it ourselves vanished.

As I tried to contact AAA on my cell, hope returned when the nicest lady ever came out of a nearby house and brought us each a cup of cold water. She was so pleasant; smiling and kind. We sipped the water, feeling that humanity may be okay after all, even with locked on hubcaps and all our nation is going through right now. She said if we needed anything we could come knock on her door. Grateful, we thanked her.

As I spoke to AAA, our property mates Diane and Morris pulled up. They were on a quick trip to Ukiah too and had seen our predicament. Morris got out to help us pull the hubcap off, to no avail. They went on their way, and then AAA let us know that luckily, there was a driver fairly close. We sat in the car, waiting for professional help to arrive.

The nice lady in the nearby house returned as we waited, this time bringing us each a piece of watermelon. How nice is that? I got the warm fuzzies from her unexpected kindness. How wonderful that there are still people that are so kind left in our world that seems to be so angry and violent right now. It was refreshing and did my soul some good. The watermelon was delicious, too.

Just around the time we finished eating the melon, the AAA driver arrived. My daughter and I were secretly glad the driver couldn’t get the hubcap off either, so we didn’t look like dummies. He had to tow the wagon to a tire shop. He loaded Sierra up onto his truck and gave us a ride to the nearest tire shop in Ukiah, Les Schwab. The driver was a very nice guy who also gave us hope. 

Once we thanked him and said goodbye to the tow driver, the tire shop guys were really nice too. At first they thought they had to cut the hubcap off (because they couldn’t remove it either), but they found a tool that broke off the lock without damaging the hubcaps. Whew! For a grand total of $6.50, they removed the tire and put on the spare, and gave me a reasonable quote for 4 tires I can order when I’m ready to purchase. Again, guardian angels predominated the day, and we finally, after a 4 hour trip from Philo to get to Ukiah, could go on our way and run our errands. Meanwhile, Morris and Diane checked in with us once more and asked if we needed a ride or help before they left town to head home. We didn’t, because of all the kind people who had helped us with our wild journey thus far.

We did our shopping chores and made it home safely without further incident. The next morning, I was able to pick up my truck from Bob at Starr. Not much wrong with it; the engine light was off now and they fixed the front tire that was giving me some trouble. It’s nice having a mechanic who has your back. Again, another reason for hope. All is well once again.

Gratitude and hope go hand in hand. In the past week, as people across America are fighting, rioting, dying, ill, and at odds, I found snippets of the real beauty of humanity: the compassionate, thoughtful, kind, loving part of the human race that we all strive to find in life. This week my hope is restored. I will pay it forward, and try to rise up to keep that hope alive for myself, and also remember to make a point to share that kindness with others, so they too can find hope once again.

One Comment

  1. Philip Parenteau June 19, 2020

    Awesome story!

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