Day #25, Major Mishap #1

I’m currently in my Chicago home of the next 4 days, but Lil’ Blue never made it past Kenosha, Wisconsin.  After an evening and morning in Milwaukee, I spent the afternoon in Kenosha–did a little bit of shopping then did a lot of internet work at the library with their very slow internet.  Even got a library card out of the deal.  My plan was to meet my friend Mark north of the city for dinner while he was on his way from Chicago to Milwaukee and I was on my way from Milwaukee to Chicago.  I was filling up with gas, even though I only needed a 1/2 tank because that 1/2 tank would be far cheaper in Wisconsin than in Chicago.  “Should I unplug my GPS while I fill up?” I thought.  “Nah.”

And then the car wouldn’t start.  Wouldn’t even give me the little clicky sounds, actually.  I asked the guy at the pump next to me if he could give me a jump.  He had a body full of tatoos and was driving a mini-van.  It was his mom’s car.  We got the car started, but by the time I put it in drive, it died again and he was on his way.  So I asked another guy, who was hesitant but agreed to help.  But he drove an Audi and when I popped the hood, I couldn’t find a battery, so I gave up and he drove away.  Then I asked another guy, whose battery was so corroded and crusty.  I wondered how his battery worked and my pristine, year-and-a-half old battery did not.  Wally from Wisconsin and Ann from Ann Arbor had a conversation while battery power transferred from his car to mine.  The car eventually started again, but died as soon as he pulled the jumper cables off of his car.

At this point, Mark was driving from our meeting spot to Kenosha, and I called AAA.  Mark’s dad is a mechanic in Milwaukee, so Mark was a good person to have riding in to the rescue.  The AAA guy suspected it was the alternator.  He got the car started, as well, but as soon as he turned on the headlights, the car died.  So I got the car towed to the shop the AAA guy was from.  The mechanics were all gone for the night.  So Mark and I went to the Brat Stop (a famous spot in Kenosha) while we waited for my other save-the-day friend and host in Chicago, Kindra to drive up with her 2-month-old.  My friends are seriously amazing.  It was no small task to empty out from my car what I would need for the next few days, either…..You’d think I had a 2-month old with me. I was hoping to do laundry this weekend, but the dirty clothes are still in the trunk of the car.  I guess it’s a good thing I did a little shopping this afternoon.  And, interestingly enough, I was supposed to meet a friend for drinks and dessert this evening, but she rescheduled this afternoon.  I would have had to cancel even more last minute had she not already rescheduled.  Everything is really working out.  The car could have quit working in the middle of the freeway.  I could have forgotten to renew my AAA.  I could have been in an unsafe spot.  I am grateful.  Of course, I hope it can get fixed quickly and cheaply, but considering the car will hit 170,000 miles in a day or two, this really isn’t so bad.

And I know that had Mark or Kindra not been nearby (well, and they weren’t even really nearby–they were just sacrificial), I could have called Amy who I stayed with in Milwaukee, or Grace who I visited in Madison.  Much of this trip is an experiment in community.  And I am blown away again and again by how beautiful it all is.  And it’s funny.  I had texted Kindra earlier in the day about whether I should get gas in Wisconsin or wait until Chicago.  The price in Wisconsin was clearly cheaper.  When she arrived at the Brat Stop, she was clearly the tired mom of a newborn, but full of love–for the kid and for me.  While we were driving back, she looked at me and said, “Well maybe you should have waited to get gas in Chicago……”

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