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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: Story Time Tuesday ~ The Break Down

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Story Time Tuesday ~ The Break Down

This story takes place about six years ago. I was on my way home one night from seeing a friend who lived more than an hour away from me. I was still a good half-hour from home when my car started making noise. I pulled off at the next exit, parked under the overpass and my car died. Did I mention I was on I-80 in Northeastern, PA? There was nothing off this exit, no gas stations, restaurants, or hotels. If anything, there were probably some hunting cabins nearby. Oh yea, and no cell reception. I tried starting the car a few times...nothing. My 94 Chevy Cavalier was dead.

I grabbed my backpack because I didn't know if I was going to get back to my car before I went back to class on Monday or not and I started walking. I knew there was a rest stop up ahead, I just couldn't remember how far ahead. It was about 9:30pm in November when I started walking and it was 35ºF, which isn't too bad for walking, it's still a few degrees above freezing. Traffic was pretty heavy along the interstate that night which created a breeze which made it feel much colder than 35ºF.

I have to be completely honest though and say that I was angry. I was angry at myself, I was angry at God for letting this happen. I spent a lot of time cursing and yelling at God as I was walking along the side of the road. So I just kept on walking having my own little pity party for myself.

The whole time I was walking no one pulled over to give me a ride. Although I did come across cars that were pulled over on three separate occasions that night. The first car I came across was full of people. They opened the window a crack so I could talk to them. They told me they were waiting for a tow truck. I almost asked them if I could ride in the tow truck with them to the rest stop but there probably wouldn't have been enough room to ride along, plus I could tell they were pretty freaked out since I had come out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere. When I noticed their discomfort I told them that I would keep on walking, there was a rest stop up ahead.

The next car I came to had one person in it. I tapped on the window to get his attention. He didn't even acknowledge me. He must have thought I was some crazy serial killer too. Maybe it was the fact that I was carrying a backpack. For all they knew I may have had someone's severed head in there. But it was just art and design books for school. I kept on walking.

A little further down the road there were two cars parked along the highway. Two guys were looking under the hood of the one car, checking the fluids. I struck up a conversation with one of them. They told me they were Penn State students. I thought to myself, "This is it! I go to Penn College which is owned by Penn State, which isn't exactly a sister college to Penn State, it's more like a third cousin." So I told him I was a Penn College student and asked him for a ride, I mean, we're practically brothers, right? Wrong! He said he would have given me a ride but his girlfriend was pretty freaked out by me. I looked in the car and his girlfriend was busy chatting and laughing with her friend in the backseat. She probably didn't even know I was there. I looked at him and thought "Are you sure you're not the one that's scared?" So as he was getting in his car he said "The rest stop is only 15 seconds down the road" and they drove off. There were no good Samaritans on the road that night.

So I started walking again. After a few minutes I came across a sign that read "Rest Stop 1 Mile" At least I knew how much further I had to walk. Then I thought about what that dork from Penn State said "The rest stop is only 15 seconds down the road". Even if I was driving I would have had to go 240 m.p.h. to make it in 15 seconds. I did the math in my head, I had enough time while I was walking.

I finally arrived at the rest stop. There was a pay phone, remember pay phones? I'm sure that when I have children they will one day learn about them in their history books. I didn't have any change so I had to buy a bag of chips from the vending machine to get change. I wasn't sure what time it was, but I'm sure it was close to 11pm so I called my grandmother. Everyone else I knew was probably in bed, but my grandmother usually stays up until 11 or 12. She doesn't go to bed at 7:30pm like most retirees. So she came and picked me up.

The next day my mom drove me out to my car. We had AAA meet us out there. We were following the tow truck back home and I counted how many miles it was between where I broke down and where the rest stop was. It was only five miles. It seemed like a whole lot more than five miles though. Probably not because of the cold, the dark, or the fact I couldn't get a ride, but it was because of my crappy attitude. Like I said earlier, I had spent a lot of my time walking along the road moaning and complaining about my situation and being angry at God for letting my car break down. My car wasn't the only thing that broke down that night.

What I was lacking that night was joy. You might ask yourself "Why would you be joyful during a situation like that?" I think too many times people confuse joy with happiness. They are two different things. We can be joyful even when we aren't happy. I guess being joyful is another way of saying "Look on the bright side" That's what I should have been doing. I should have been joyful that I was getting some good exercise and that when I arrived at the rest stop I was able to get a ride because I have a family that cares about me and I serve a God that looks out for me and will always love me even if I get angry with him.

We put too much faith in our "things". We expect our cars to take us where we want to go. Sometimes cars go bad, but God is always good.

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