Today began ordinarily enough. I slipped into my chocolate plush robe and headed for the coffee pot. I’m participating in Amber Starfire’s keyboard vs. paper journaling experiment, so I by-passed my lap desk and journal and headed into my cold cave to tap out a few thoughts.
The rest of the morning flew as I continued preparing materials for the Story Circle Writing for the Health of It class and my winter lifestory class at Carnegie Mellon scheduled to begin this afternoon. Just before noon I left for class. When the car started up, I felt a strange surge of relief, with a vague thought about the battery. Now why would I worry about that? I wondered.
Fifteen minutes later, traffic on the Parkway ground to halt. Obviously there was an accident inside the Squirrel Hill Tunnel and we would be sitting for at least ten minutes. Thank heavens I allowed plenty of extra time, I thought, turning off the car. Seventeen minutes later the light turned green on the tunnel entrance, and I reached for the key. The engine struggled twice, then went dead. My heart nearly stopped. The battery! I thought, recalling my premonition. Am I psychic?
I ran to the truck behind me, explaining my dilemma. In short order, he and another man pushed me onto the shoulder, then an emergency vehicle stopped and told me they’d alert the tunnel crew. Another man quickly showed up and pushed me across to a holding area in front of the tunnel. He gave me numbers to call a tow truck that arrived in minutes.
My dilemma was compounded by the fact that my Honey is on some tropical isle, leaving me stranded in Iceburgh to handle things on my own. After some thought, I called my ex-mechanic son in San Francisco–mostly because I could! I’ve had a cell phone for only a couple of years and never use it. He confirmed my decision.
The tow truck hauled me to our customary garage a mile from the house. The friendly fellow there promised to look at the car ASAP and gave me a ride up the hill.
Shortly after I walked in the door, the assistant class leader called. One of the fellows who has taken the class half a dozen times led a group discussion, and those who had brought stories read them. I was relieved, and they were glad to hear I was okay. All is well.
In spite what could seem like a terrible, horrible, awfully bad day, I feel richly blessed. Help arrived with near miraculous speed. I made strong decisions, and a tiny piece of plastic made everything easy. My “just in case” cell phone worked like a charm. I’m thrilled at the confirmation I’m not indispensable, that my students will carry on without me. The house is nice and warm again, and I just opened a fresh container of coffee. Life is good.
Sharon Lippincott survives icy winters in Pittsburgh where she teaches lifestory writing and Writing for the Health of It.