I've been reluctant to post anything on the same blog as a writer as talented as Kory, but I wanted to write down some events that happened this week and perhaps bring a smile to someone's face.
Tuesday began as any other Tuesday would, with me stumbling around in a sleepy daze as I attempted to wake and get my sorry self off to work. My stomach wasn't feeling too great, but I ignored that and went to work. When you're a college student two things matter: girls and money. You can't have one without the other.
Work progressed as well as I could have hoped. Things have been pretty busy lately due to a vacancy in our department. Busy is definitely good, because the busier I am, the more commission I make. (See above).
I finished work and took off to take care of a couple errands. I had to run up to campus to meet with an advisor, and also needed to go to Layton to pick up a tux for a very good friend's wedding.
Now would be a good time to describe my truck. I drive a big, noisy, blue 1979 Chevy Pickup. It has a shell and a carpet kit, and more personality than Lucille Ball. Decades of dents and rust make Chuck, as we affectionately call him (Chuck the Big Blue Truck, a name I gave him when I was but three), truly unique. You can hear me coming from a mile away. Chuck has been a part of our family since I was a small child, and is full of memories of camp outs and road trips to California.
This was a day where almost nothing went as planned. I met with my advisor as planned, but that's where the good times ended. I forgot my wallet, and was thereby rendered a nobody by the system and was unable to buy books, register a few more credits, and several other things I needed to do. A man with no cards has no identity and no way to pay for things.
I took off in a rush for Layton. I had been in the day previously to make some last minute adjustments, so they didn't request my I.D. I grabbed my tux as quickly as possible (never trust a salesman in a lavender shirt). Yoink! I dragged my nauseous hiney out of there.
The further I drove on the way home, the sicker I got. I figured it was a race between me and my stomach. The prize: a nice bed and a glass of Alka-Seltzer.
If you've read this far, you deserve some sort of medal. Unfortunately, being a little short on medals at the moment, all you're going to get is the best part of the story.
As I was fighting back my own noxious fumes, I finally saw the last major milestone on my journey: the North Ogden Exit. I pressed down the gas, eager to win my prize. Chuck didn't respond to my coaxing. I pressed the gas down further, no response. I had just filled up. I noticed my temperature gauge was having the equivalent of a thermometer's seizure. Up. Down. Up. Down. Suddenly, my cab filled with smoke. No seeing. No breathing. Only coughing and hoping I could pull over.
I pulled over, all the while holding my breath, and dove out the passenger's side. 100 degrees. Sick stomach. I'm on the shoulder of I-15 within sight of my exit. Chuck is billowing smoke. I try to open the hood, but pull back yiping. I decide not to touch the hood for a while. Next, I call my mom, as any good son would. She agrees to come rescue me, as any mother would.
By this time, my stomach has decided to have a barmitzfa. I stand there looking stupidly at the cars passing, hoping one of them will be some good Samaritan who knows more about cars than I do. (Which isn't hard). My stomach decides to give me a little more grief, and I lean on Chuck to rest with my head down.
This is about the time the Highway Patrolman shows up. We agree that it's probably a bad idea to open the hood for fear of feeding the flames. He radios the firemen with a "Possible Number that Justin won't remember because he's too delirious." We stand and wait, and I feel like a Jack-in-the-Box that is almost ready to blow.
Fire truck arrives (followed shortly by my concerned mother), and they make the new guy (who has a sticker that says "The Boy Wonder" on his helmet) dress in full gear and open the hood. Smoke is abundant, but no flames are to be seen. The older fireman obviously has mechanical experience, and he quickly sees the problem: my heater core got a hole in it and started leaking water. No water in the radiator is apparently a bad thing.
They go and grab a water line from the truck (Cool!) and begin satisfying Chuck's thirst. This is about the time that my stomach has had enough, and I go a few steps away and unload my three previous meals onto the side of the freeway. Yes, I see carrots, and salad . . .
"Are you alright?"
"I've been better"
The kind firemen give me a bottle of water, instruct me to try and start the engine. It starts, but Chuck isn't the same. He seems sluggish. Or slothish. Slowish. He doesn't want to start, much less go anywhere. Our friendship has enough juice left for one last trip, and he makes it off the freeway. A few blocks later he gives up and won't start for anything.
Now my stomach. Let's give him a name, shall we? Gunther decides that he's not thirsty and would rather water the dead lawn at the abandoned house where Chuck broke down. Heaving on all fours is not how I had planned to spend my day. We call a tow truck, and I say goodbye to Chuck, hoping he'll be alright. My mom takes me home and I sleep for 16 hours, waking up in time to go to work and attend my friend's wedding.
This post turned out to be a lot longer than I intended, so I'll cut down the next part. The next day my dad's car broke down, and we quickly realized how much we rely on these vehicles. I spent quite a bit of time wallowing in self pity and trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to afford a car. I thought about how unlucky we were! Only one car between three drivers! How are we going to work this out? Then a man came in to work requesting that a memoriam be placed in the paper. His mother and one year old son died last year in a car accident. I get news of a person I don't even know having a swimming accident and being paralyzed from the neck down. Shattered dreams, ruined hopes. I realize: I am pretty lucky.