“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
- Sir Mick Jagger and Mr. Keith Richards
What does good luck look like? A winning lottery ticket? Getting a parking space up front on Black Friday (a day on which I won’t go near any store)? Finding a folded $20 bill in your jeans pocket (always a major score)?
Thursday night, after a really great Thanksgiving dinner, I was headed home and notice the battery warning light was lit on my car’s dashboard. I’m not completely ignorant about cars, but I thought I just needed to restart the car and it would stop. I didn’t associate with the belt squealing that had become just so much background noise (I still need to get the AC and the heater fixed).
My car saw fit to educate me while I was on the 101 (It’s a California thing: ALL of our major highways are “The (fill in the blank),” “The 110.” “The 5 (Seriously, the ugliest, most frustrating stretch of highway in Southern California. It is FUGLY).” “The 101.” Now, I know there is a perfectly good 101 running through New Hampshire. But, since it’s not in L.A., it’s not THE 101.) The lights dimmed (and it’s night), the radio died and the fuel injectors started choking and coughing like 5 pack a day smokers. Yeah, this is bad.
Now, you would think that good luck would have been that nothing had happened. No. That would have been nothing extraordinary.
This is why I say I am LUCKY:
1) Rather than dying on the main highway and becoming a hazard, there was enough momentum and slope that I was able to coast off at the Lankershim exit. Not enough to get down to Cahuenga and turn into the Arco station next to the exit, but I was able to guide the car off the shoulder.
2) I have AAA (and I’m irritated that I won’t be able to upgrade back to my old Premium status because of this. Shoot) and a cell phone. Help was a phone call away. (If you don’t have AAA, GET IT)
3) As I was on the phone with AAA, a California Highway Patrol car pulled up behind me. While I was telling him what was going on, a second CHiP (Not Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox) pulled up behind him. And they stayed to make sure I was okay.
4) The first AAA guy tested the battery and his gizmos said it was probably the alternator. Alternators are expensive. Wicked expensive. Luck? My paycheck had hit my account Thanksgiving morning. I had the means to deal with the problem. His portable charger gave my car enough juice to get to the Arco station.
5) The second AAA guy, the one with the flatbed, put his head together with the first guy and they found an AAA approved garage within the 7 miles allowed for a free tow (to bring the car back down to where I live now…$234).
6) One of my friends from Thanksgiving dinner lived within 6 blocks of the garage and gave me a place to sleep for the night. Complete with kitties (including a kitten).
7) It wasn’t the alternator (beaucoup mega big bucks). It was the serpentine alternator BELT. And I got a discount because it was an approved garage. I had enough cash in my wallet to cover the bill.
8) I didn’t get to work on Friday; my job is “you don’t work, you don’t get paid”. But while I was waiting for the car to be finished, I got to see Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl” which I couldn’t find on the PBS stations down here. (It’s excellent and eye opening about one of the major factors of the Great Depression).
9) And finally, I was able to go in on Saturday and make up the 8 hours I’d missed the day before. AND, due to all the hours I’ve been putting in, I qualified for holiday pay on Thanksgiving. I didn’t miss any base hours.
I didn’t hit the lottery (I did find 10 bucks in my pants pocket, though), but I hit the motherlode on luck. And I will be adding jumper cables to my trunk.
So, in the words of Mick and Keith, I didn’t get what I wanted (winning lottery ticket and George Clooney nibbling my earlobes). But, by God, I got what I needed and when I needed it.
Now that’s something to be thankful for.