enlightenment and the automobile breakdown

well there's your problem

It’s a bunch of hype to say “automobile breakdown”.

Let’s just get that out of the way first.  The phrase “automobile breakdown” makes it sound like I was stuck on the side of the road, resting in the shade of an irredeemable hulk of a broken down car, waiting for the vultures to start trying to pick me apart in the hot desert sun.

It wasn’t like that.

Yesterday, in the middle of the mail route, my alternator stopped working.  Just died….the gauge going to nothing on the readout.

When the gauge goes to the “no readout zone”, it’s all I can think about…I can’t take my eyes off of it.  It’s like watching a leak in a boat, thinking that watching it would slow the process of sinking.

There is a light on my dash…a bright red light…that reminds me to “check gauges” if I’m not already freaking out.

It was a hot, dry day yesterday.  I’d left the office early to run the route…the mail volume was light…and I anticipated getting home after finishing the day a little earlier than usual.

And then…the automobile breakdown.

Luckily, the junkyard…er, used auto parts emporium… had a used alternator they could pull off another car.  So…I bought it, drove home on the charge left in the battery, replaced the alternator in our driveway, and finished the route.

Now…I was thinking about it quite a bit while the whole “automobile breakdown” was happening.  I couldn’t help but think about it.  It was a confrontational situation.

I was thinking that my reaction could be “DANGIT…why does this always happen to me?!!!  Hot day like this and my stupid car has to break down in the middle of a mail run….no substitute driver in sight that I can call on…why do I get all the bad breaks?…it’s not fair…I get out of the office early and I’m still going to be behind…I can’t believe it….whyzit taking so long for them to pull my stupid part?….THIS REALLY SUCKS.”

I could have been thinking that, I suppose.  I guess that maybe a watered down version of that did cross my mind…if only just a little bit.

The conclusion that I arrived at was a different one from the negative “victim” one I described.

I shock myself sometimes with a trickle of maturity.

The spin I was able to put on the situation was this:

  • It’s HOT.  Thank goodness it’s hot…and dry.  Most of my automobile breakdown recovery seems to happen in the freezing sleet of a usually mild North Carolina winter.
  • I got out of the office really early.  Time wise I’m in great shape…I can do this…I can make it.
  • I know how to fix this.  I’m not stuck on the side of the road waiting for AAA to come drag me to some garage somewhere.
  • My car is still running without a working alternator.  That is amazing…I wonder why my car is still running without a working alternator?
  • I don’t have a sub available today…but I can do this on my own.  I remember being called up to “rescue” situations like someone elses breakdown…but this situation is one that I can figure out how to handle without anyone else helping me.  That independence is kind of empowering.
  • I’m really getting to know this vehicle a little better.  Each time something breaks, I’m learning how to fix it.  That’s pretty cool.
  • It is taking the guys at the used auto parts place a long time to get my part…but they’re a good bunch.  It’s interesting to talk to them while I’m waiting for my new “old” alternator.

And so on…and so on.

I’m starting to figure out that I can focus on the “crack” until it finally breaks me….or I can appreciate all the parts of a life that aren’t broken.

I can appreciate what works…and try to fix what’s broken.

To me, that’s pretty enlightening.

image from here.



About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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