The Good Part

20150104_084948A plane looked pretty good right about then. Then: blocking the right lane halfway across an icy bridge. Then: truck pin-balling from one side to the other, bumper stamped into the railing. There were metal squeals, rubber grunts, awful bashes, and Dad’s voice repeated in my head “a plane would be safer.”

It would’ve.

I arced back on route, my bumper a little like a tail on a kite.

An hour down. Nine more to go till I reached Taylor University for J-Term.

Weather was a Jack Frost hissy fit.

Tara Haute, Indiana, crowned the top of my GPS screen like some sort of jewel. After hours and Illinois between me and The Great Missouri Bridge Hiccup, I was confident… and hungry. When I’d clipped the bridge, my raspberries had sprinkled the front seat.

So my breakfast hadn’t passed the five-second rule, and I’d been leery to hold anything but the wheel at ten and two.

Time for a reward.

Yum. Pesto rolls, a pinwheel pizza of goodness. A handful of homemade Chex-Mix. The comfort food was making itself at home.

Then… yup. The back wheels skittered. Dear person reading, it was like a replay of earlier. I go spinning into the fast lane. Except, a minivan is charging at me. Minivans don’t look so mini when they’re coming at you. So I stomp the pedal and shoot across into the ditch.

Crisis averted. Phew. I’ll just thrust this puppy into 4-low and back onto the highway.

My tires couldn’t get a grip on the shoulder.

I called Dad. Because he is the man. For it being my umpteenth call to him, the man wasn’t irked and did not yell. He talked me through the steps of calling insurance.

I stepped the steps of calling insurance. A cop stopped by. Insurance dispatched a tow and would cover everything. All I had to do was sit pretty. I sat alternating between singing the chorus of Cowgirls Don’t Cry and praying that things don’t come in threes.

But things come in threes, dear person reading. Sorry.

Ten minutes later, Mr. Tow Truck Driver pulled onto the shoulder.

I scrolled down my window as he waddled over, zipping up his Carhart.

“Has the police officer been by?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay.” He tipped his hatless head and rooted his fingers into oily leather gloves.

Then Mr. Tow Truck Driver cranked me up onto solid ground. He unhooked me and sauntered up to the driver’s side.

“Thank you so—”

He grinned as he plucked off the gloves. “That’ll be a hundred dollars.”

I laughed.

“What’s funny?”

“Insurance covers everything.”

Mr. Tow Truck Driver scowled. “I’m not with insurance.”

“You’re—you’re not?”

Things come in threes.

I was supposed to follow him to the nearest exit. And I was. I pecked the insurance number into the phone as I hopped back into traffic, but I was stuck in 4-low, which according to Dad and every male I bumped into that day, 4-low will wreck a transmission.

I somehow lost Mr. Tow Truck Driver in traffic. At that point, I did the only thing I could: crawl to the nearest gas station, Petro Lube.

Dad had me waltzing around the parking lot. 1-2-3-4 forward. 1-2-3-4 backward. Nothing I tried bumped the stupid truck out of the stupid 4-low.

The wonderful semi mechanics unplugged the battery to “reboot” the truck out of 4-low. They also zip-tied my waving bumper.

All engines were finally a go three hours from my destination.

Because I have a strong no-crying-while-driving policy, I hummed Cowgirls Don’t Cry for the rest of the trip.

rockybalboaDad tracked me all the way “home” via locator app. He texted me when I pulled into the dorm lot: You made it.

Dear person reading, It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

But I’m still glad I drove, you know? I had to do a lot of thinking (since the radio presets disappeared when my battery was unplugged). I had a choice to look at my day as “it can only get worse.” Or “here comes the good part.”

In movies and books when things are looking sucky, I know the “good part” is coming. The good part is never the dire circumstance. Nope. It’s about the hero. It’s about the good in him that grins and bears the worst. It’s about how he never gives up, never moves to Australia. Even if he does have a good cry afterward.

What was your last good part? How did it grow you?

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My name is Nichole—Nichole Parks. Not to be confused with Nicholas Sparks. Nicky boy handles the drama. And me? I take on the trauma. Dark humor is my specialty.

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