Back-up to The Blowout, part 1: How last week’s installment ended:

As the morning progressed though, Cliff and I wrestled with unspoken questions: Can we still enjoy a leisurely evening and supper, spending overnight in Valdosta? (We had packed suitcases in anticipation.) Is the temporary “fix” on the roof strong enough to hold if the weather turns bad?

Earlier that morning, about 8:00am:

“Click. . . click. . . click” The engine didn’t “catch,” no ignition followed Cliff’s pressing the Start button. When he tried again, the clicking noise sounded even weaker. After a few other futile attempts, we had to conclude we had a dead battery on our hands, a battery that had checked out alive and well just weeks earlier. What to do now? Time was ticking away. It was 8:05 a.m. and we had a 150-mile trip ahead with an 11:15 arrival time targeted. Our Infiniti was definitely NOT going to make it with books and suitcases already packed, ready to go.

“Call Crista!” the thought popped into my mind. Our daughter lives less than a mile away in the same neighborhood. “Maybe we could use her car.” A quick call and three things happened in short order: She came over in her Subaru. Then her husband Joe came over with some real car “medicine,” a portable battery booster.

The booster supplied enough juice to get the battery started, but not enough to get the Infiniti drive-worthy for an out-of-town trip. So, then my query, “Crista, may we use your car for the Valdosta trip?” Fortunately, she agreed.

Back in our garage, minutes ticked by as the Infiniti’s still-weak battery allowed us to pry open our car’s trunk before transferring boxes of books from our car to hers. The morning hadn’t started out well, but with our daughter’s Subaru trunk packed with memoir copies, we were on our way out of Jacksonville until The Blowout happened about an hour into the expedition. (You can read/review last week’s post HERE). An explosion of glass within the moonroof of Crista’s Subaru hobbled out attempts to meet the deadline, but we cruised under the canopy of the Valdosta Country Club venue at exactly 11:08, a tad earlier than we were expected. Whew!

The audience was receptive and inquisitive. They bought books of both titles, Mennonite Daughter and My Checkered Life, all which I autographed. Before 1:00 pm most of the guests had gone, and friend and book-club coordinator Marcia Felts commented, “We may have a storm later on this afternoon. Last week storms came with a tornado.” Uh-oh. A leisurely supper and an over-night stay were out of the question at this point—not with a bandaged roof that would undoubtedly leak in stormy weather. To complicate matters, Cliff had to take pains to cancel a hotel reservation, secured with quality points rather than regular payment.

After pleasant goodbyes, we slid into the Subaru, now with a giant blinking amber alert on the dashboard– Low Gas! We’d seen the warning earlier, but now it was urgent! My app told me a Circle-K gas station was close by and not too far from Interstate 75 for our return home.

At the station, Cliff filled the empty tank, standing on the threshold of the driver’s door trying to pick out shards of glass from the moon roof. In the next bay, a curious driver in a Penske rental truck wondered, “What are you doing?” Cliff gave a short version of what happened, which seemed to satisfy the man, who drove away with gas in his tank and some food orders. Cliff retrieved the gas receipt and got back into the Subaru, hoping to find a Home Depot to buy plywood, tape, and cardboard to cover the hole in the event of bad weather on our journey back home.

Lo, and behold, after a minute or two, the Penske truck driver came back around the pumps, rolled down his window and asked if we still needed help. If so, he had a business that was only about four or five miles down the road. Maybe he could find some duct tape and large construction bags to cover the broken roof. We both agreed that we should follow the Penske truck.

Follow the truck we did, and found other men moving from a business site in town to another location, willing and able to help us. They supplied us with a way more sturdy fix for the Subaru’s roof: a corrugated plasticized sign cut to fit the hole and secured with Gorilla-type duct tape. The men flatly refused payment, so I gifted each of them with a signed copy of one of my memoirs.


What we learned:

  • Unexpected challenges pop up in our lives, often when they are least expected.
  • With challenges comes help, often from unexpected sources.



Do you have a Good Samaritan story of your own to share?

Details of your own hazardous trip?


Thanks to my husband who supplied some Cliff Notes to enhance the story.