I finally got the call yesterday afternoon that they “probably” fixed my car. This has certainly been a couple of weeks filled with “loose ends.” I broke my tooth, and finally, after two weeks plus, everything is once again happy in my mouth. My credit union merged with another credit union, and that meant all the numbers and accounts changed, and are still changing – how can it be that a joint checking account can suddenly be transformed into a single name account? That’s not good news for Cheri, and it meant that we both had to fill out account information updates, and send a photocopy of our driver’s licenses (so we can prove we exist?), and hopefully it will be updated and the information corrected. I mentioned yesterday that my mother in law is positive for coronavirus, and now it looks like my brother in law may also have it – but maybe not, since he is reluctant to get tested. This drives my nurse practitioner wife crazy.
And it’s election day, which will perhaps tie up some other loose ends, although there is real concern it may unleash and entire other mess to our society, depending on who wins. And we have all recovered from the move to standard time, sort of. And the snow that fell with ferocity last week met up with 67 degrees in North Dakota in November (!), and we are back to leaves on the ground. A nice loose end tied up that I would appreciate not untying for at least another month – or two.
And I took my car into the dealer two weeks ago for the regular service, and to have them check on a funny little clicking sound that was never there before. They ran the tests, and sure enough, there was a clicking sound. I thought they would turn a little screw and it would go away, but apparently, some loose strings hang there for quite a while.
It was “something” that I didn’t quite understand, not being a “working on the car” kind of guy, but apparently, the large number of “things” needed to be replaced in order to keep other things like “lifters and pistons” from doing something bad with the “rocker arms,” which in turn would be then able to utterly destroy the engine from the inside out, mostly likely as I was driving in heavy traffic on the interstate. In a snowstorm, with icy roads. I expect somehow the tires would all blow out simultaneously as well, tossing me upside down in the air in the path of a gas truck. Something like that.
So, the good news is that the bad stuff is still under warranty. I love those words. All they had to do was locate the parts, and replace them, and I would be on my way. Except. They had half the number of the important, magical, keep the car from being destroyed parts, but they had to order the other half. No problem, we have three cars at home, and my car can have a sleepover. The next day – no wait, that would be too easy – two or three days later, I got the call that the parts had finally come in. Hooray. Except, the parts that were sent were different from the “new” parts that were ready to be installed. The sent parts were of the “old school” parts warehouse, and so it would be the same, they said, as just putting the original ones back in the engine, preparing it for catastrophic consequences.
“When will you be able to get the new set?” I asked innocently. At that point, I discovered that CoVid had its grip on the automotive industry. The parts were on nationwide backorder, it seems. And that backorder could extend from October to January. And not 60 degrees January, but -20 degrees. And the car would most likely just have to sit on their lot, since it was unsafe to reassemble it and let me drive around looking for the best place to explode. They promised they would check with other dealers and see if there would be someone who wasn’t a hoarder, and could let loose with the right replacement parts.
The loose ends kept up for the better part of an entire week. As is the case when things are loose, after a while you just have to check and see if there is any possibility they will be tied up again. I called to see what the status was.
You may not be aware of how important my vehicle is, but when they couldn’t find any replacements, the worldwide Mazda management system declared a system wide emergency! Sort of. Perhaps hundreds of thousands, I would guess, workers and detectives and spies were sent out to locate parts, to no avail. I felt like taking a picture of my car, and putting it on a milk carton.
Finally, the service person called me and said that they – whoever they were – actually went and had an audience with the corporate Mazda engineers. These are probably people who wear grease stained pointy cones on their heads, and long flowing starry blue robes. They are the mysterious determiners of the future of any vehicle. The engineers made this proclamation (you probably heard about it as an emergency message across your tv screen): the aforesaid already sent parts, that had been sitting on the counter for the better part of two weeks, indeed were deemed fit to be used after all to replace the demon parts, even though they seemed to be exactly the same. This came as the closest you could come to a guarantee from Mazda that all would be well and safe, and if the car were to explode in the snowstorm with the semitruck, they were sure Mazda would take care of Cheri’s financial needs for the rest of her life. Nice touch. Unless Cheri’s in the car with me, and then they make off like bandits.
So, they were going to “fix” the car. Two days later, I called to see the progress, and the service rep said that indeed, they had put the car back together, and in the process, found another thing that was bad, that was also “under warranty” so they fixed it as well, and it was ready to go! Sort of.
The final loose end was to happen this morning, when, after sitting overnight, they would perform a cold start, and see if the car had any “ticking” sound with the new parts. You know how it is to wait outside the operating room for the surgery to be completed on your loved one. I’m standing by the phone, awaiting news that this loose end can finally be tied, and I can move on to a brighter and happier future. We will wait and see, since we can’t do anything else.
You and I both know that life is messy, and that loose ends abound. Sometimes it feels like that’s all that happens, and that we spend our entire waking life just trying to keep things from fraying even further. Creativity and dreams and aspirations seem to get dropped in the back seat when you are busy just trying to get through the untangling, and retying times. They are tiring times as well.
Still, to live intentionally means that every so often, and more often than we wish, we are involved in that important work of keeping our world and our lives together. Our families and our loved ones are constantly fraying, and so are we. The key is to make sure we are not just reacting to messes, but instead responding calmly and focused to the needs that arise. And let’s make sure we are not the ones who are lighting the match in the room full of gas. Anxious times and situations come along every day, and lots of loose ends can be found even when we don’t want them. It’s what we do with what happens to us that matters. Just tie those loose ends, and keep praying to stay calm and focused in a world that is anything but that right now. Peace to you, and I’m still waiting on my car…
Word for the day: ebullience. Pronounced eh-BULL-ee-ens, it’s a great word to want to own. It comes all the way from Latin, bullire, which is “to bubble.” Add to that the e, or ex-, meaning “out of,” and you have ebullire, or “to bubble or boil over.” It’s the good kind of boiling, however – not like the emotions that cause a riot or such.
To be “ebullient” is to be enthusiastic. It contains a quality of cheerfulness that leads to energy in one’s life, or to be lively. An ebullient person see the potential of a situation for good, and is excited to be part of it. A good antonym of ebullient is “depressed.” A depressed person has no energy, no real focus, no anticipation, and no liveliness. Contrast that to an ebullient one, and that person is doing jumping jacks, is ready to go. Most dogs, when you ask if they want to go for a ride in the car, are poster-dogs for “ebullient.” So should we look to today, and find what we can be excited about in our glorious life.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.