The Car as My Teacher

Yesterday could have been a bad day. It started out okay. I am now working as a substitute, so each day is different work-wise. There weren’t any jobs I could make it to at first, but as R and I were heading out the door for school, a new job popped up. I wasn’t really dressed for work, but I decided to go anyway in my hoodie and jeans. It was at my old job, so I was basically subbing for myself. Kind of funny! The kids seemed happy to see me. You can’t always tell with autistic kids, but once you get to know them, you discover their individual ways of expressing emotion. Work was great, I was feeling a little tired(moon time) but have been eating healthier so it was tolerable. After work, I had some time to spare before I headed out to get R from school. I picked up some groceries, including a huge bag of carob chips. I am going to make some goodies this weekend for sure. Before I left town, I had just enough time to go visit my younger sister and her newest baby. She was born early, and is so tiny! 7 pounds is small in our family. I snuggled with her for a while, and then headed home.

Our car has been acting up lately. Over-heating issues. We haven’t had the money to go in and have it looked at. So I filled it up before I left town. I am about halfway to R’s school when the car starts making some funny noises. The oh-so-familiar pinging noise many of us hear when we try to push it with our cars. This car doesn’t typically make that noise. I right away started sweet-talking to the car. “Come on, Sweetie, just get me to R’s school and get us home safely”…..that kind of thing. Well, it didn’t work. I made it over a hill before the car had enough. I pulled over and as soon as I did, it died. Great. To make matters worse, I was out of minutes on my cell phone. Okay. I got out of my car into the drizzling rain and walked around to the front of the car. Steam was pouring out of the front. Not a big surprise. Cars were whizzing by. I was late getting R at this point and had no way of letting anyone know what was happening. As I was standing there weighing my options, a white SUV cruised by. It was an older car, not one of the fancy ones I saw just fly by. It had a disabled parking tag hanging from the rearview mirror. The kind older gentleman turned around and pulled in behind me. He rolled down his window and asked if I needed help. I burst into tears and managed a “yes please”. He got out of his car, patted me on the back and said it would be okay. He had a longer beard and was dressed in a typical fashion of the country folk in our area. He kindly offered to give me a lift to a phone(he gave his cell phone up when he retired, I later learned). Despite all the warnings a woman hears about getting in a car with a strange man, I felt this man was safe. He turned out to be a very nice person, and took me to his home a little way up the road. I got to meet his dogs, one a rottweiler mix. His house wasn’t super fancy. The furniture had obviously been used by all members of the family, including the dogs. I called R’s school and then tried to call a neighbor to come and get me. She was in town and couldn’t, so the man offered to take me to R’s school and home. I told him if he could just drop me off at the school, I would be ever grateful. On he way there, we talked about all sorts of things, including veganism. Here I was, talking to a third-generation hunter about a plant-based diet. I admitted to him that when I was younger, I was very judgmental of people who chose to eat meat. I told him that I not feel people should eat what works for them. It was very interesting. He dropped me off and I thanked him some more. I had nothing to offer, but he went out of his way to help a stranger.

I got R from the office, called for a ride, and then went outside to wait. R’s school is a country school, so there are trees and grass and boulders galore on the school grounds. After about five minutes of running around like a crazy animal, he joined a couple kids on the rocks. The kids’ dad was there helping them, and he immediately started helping R jump from rock to rock. He was waiting for his wife, who works at the school. Between jumps, he started talking to me. He was quite the character. As I mostly listened to him, I reflected on how interesting the day had become. I had some really bad luck, but I met some very unique people as a result. People can frustrate me, but most of the time, people fascinate me. I love to know their stories. So I contentedly listened to this stranger talk. I hardly got a word in. After his wife came out and they left, a car pulled up. I thought it was my ride so I started waving like a maniac. It wasn’t my brother-in-law, but a woman I didn’t know. We laughed about me waving at her like that and her waving back. My brother-in-law pulled in right behind her.

He gave us a lift to my car so I could pick up my groceries, then took us home. We talked the whole time about all sorts of things. He dropped us off and then took D to the car to see if he could lurch it home. He made it after putting a bunch of water in it.

We will find out this weekend if the problem is bad or not-so-bad. I am happy that I was able to turn something really negative into a positive adventure. I had some interesting conversations, and got some fresh air.

I have to miss a day of work today, which isn’t ideal considering our financial situation. I am going to embrace this day at home with my family.


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