There are some wonderful people in the world and many of them live in small towns. I took my ancient car in to be serviced because it’s been “making a noise.”
My friends picked me up at the garage and took me to their house, rather than home. I think they were afraid to leave me alone while I awaited the dreaded call with “the estimate.”
Cell phone service in Dowagiac has improved, unless, like me, you own a “burner phone,” which, my daughter explained, is the kind drug dealers use, so I didn’t get the call, although the ringer was turned up to full volume. After I’d bitten every nail to the quick and used most of my friends’ supply of TP (I finally asked if they had club soda to quell the nausea as my view of their living room became kaleidoscopic), I called the garage.
“You car’s done. Dad’s gone, but he should be back in half an hour.”
The sign that read, “All repairs and parts, strictly cash,” and a vague memory of having buried my checkbook beneath a pile of unread mail in the backseat of my car (mostly flyers, but there were a few bills in the stack) congealed with a vision of me in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.
I gulped the last of the soda and sucked a raw cuticle. My friends, who are as busy in retirement as they were when they held demanding jobs and had multiple mouths to feed, assured me the garage took credit cards. They waited while I went inside.
“I drove it down to (fictitious street name) and heard it, but when I got it on the hoist, I couldn’t find anything. I didn’t want to keep throwing parts into it until something worked.” He scribbed on a slip of paper and handed it to me. “$65.”
I handed him my Discover card. He shook his head and pointed to the sign as he handed me the receipt and my keys. “You can mail me a check.”