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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Barely-Breathing Breakdown

car broken downEvery day is an adventure around the Bartologimignanos. There’s simply no room for ennui. However, today we had a bit too much excitement.

My son and I started the day with our early-a.m. power walk. His tennis team, in multiple tie-breakers lasting till almost 10:00 p.m. last night, finally faced defeat. They had made it fairly far in the playoffs… and now, suddenly, they were out. I felt for his teammates who lost and today, I knew he, as well, needed to decompress from the disappointment of it all.

Off we went to shake the cobwebs from our beings, driving to our nearby walking route. After a quick go-round, we drove to a closeby shop to pick up a card for his coach. For two years our son had played with this team, and now it was drawing to a close.

Getting back into the car, I turned the key. It wouldn’t start. I tried two or three more times with the same result.broken-down-car

Nothing. Dead. Not as in a dead battery, because the power windows would go down. But, it simply wouldn’t start.

“Okay, let’s give it a break,” I suggested, and the two of us walked into another nearby shop.

Ahh, airconditioning refreshed us in the already-stifling early morning heat. For some odd reason, I had not brought my phone along. We had a pocket of limited cash, my driver’s license… and nothing else. I felt more than a little stuck, not looking so glamorous after our early-morning exercise, and feeling for all the world as though I had been reduced to a street person ready to beg for favors.

“We need to pray,” I confided to Petya.

broken-down-car“It will be alright, Mama. We believe,” he assured me.

My son looked at my face and knew I wanted to bawl. There were so many deadlines today. I couldn’t afford to waste time. He had some schoolwork with him, but just enough for our anticipated drive to and from our walk.

The car had konked out over the weekend with Benedetto in it. He called for me to come with the SUV and rescue him. But then it started up and had been mostly okay.

And now this. I wondered if one of the cashiers would let me use the phone, yet felt embarrassed to ask.

After about ten mintues, the two of us decided to give it another try. It turned over!

“Thank you, Lord,” I murmured, “please let us get home.”

The dacha was less than ten minutes away by car. We were almost there, at a stop light on a very congested thoroughfare,th when bam! The car went dead. It simply konked out. That had never happened before.

Our light turned green, I was in the left lane, and my heart stopped as I searched for the emergency flashers.

“We have to get off of the highway!” I screamed in my best muted crazy-lady voice. “You’re going to have to push!”

I shuddered to think of my first-born on the highway pushing our car as vehicles rapidly approached from behind. There was nothing else to do. We had to move fast. He pushed us into the left-hand turn lane and we formed our plan.

best-kind-of-repair-shop-612“Just before the green arrow changes, start pushing!” I shouted out the window.

He could barely move the tank of a car, thankfully not our SUV. I opened my driver’s side door and tried to push from outside while steering with an arm on the inside. It wasn’t as easy as it appeared.

“Get in the car, Mama!” he yelled. “It’s okay!”

The car started to roll, even though we held up traffic in all directions. I have never been so thankful to have a teen son who lifts weights.

We made it half a block to a restaurant under construction. Two Hispanic guys in hardhats were crossing the road.index

“Excuse me, please,” I jumped from the car, “would you have a cell phone we might use?”

The two men quickly obliged and I called my husband, half a world away, yet a local call. He answered in a rather businesslike manner. I wondered if was really him.



IphoneI realized he didn’t know it was me, either, calling on someone else’s mobile. It was a miracle he even answered.

“It’s me. The car died on the highway. I am calling from a nice construction worker’s phone. We pushed it here. Can you call for a tow-truck? We need to make full plans now because I won’t be able to call you back.”

“No, you need a rental car first. Where is your phone?”

“At home, we were only going to be out for a short while. All I have is my I.D.”

“You may need a credit card, or maybe I can reserve for you with my card. Okay, I’ll get someone to come. Where will the car be?”

Consulting with the construction guys, it was determined that they should help push it to an empty restaurant parking lot across the street from their busy construction lot. Back in I climbed, steering while the two men and Petya pushed. The last few feet went slightly uphill.

God bless them.

Petya and I found a grassy lawn with a tree casting shade and sat under it. We reviewed some new schoolwork, thoccasionally pondering whether or not we should try to start the car, only to have it cut out again who-knows-where. Perhaps we should just walk home? The dacha was not far, but there were no sidewalks, plus, we’d be burnt to a crisp in the sun if we tried it.

Within twenty-five minutes, a Hertz rental van pulled up to rescue us. God bless them. The man offered to drive us home so I could get my phone and credit card. God bless him.

I left Petya there to tend to his schooling and the dogs, and I returned with the rental man. They were waiting for me at the rental office and we seemed good to go.

It was not until I was almost home again that I glimpsed the fuel gauge—almost on empty! That was odd. I checked the contract which read 8/8, when it was really less than 1/8.

mechanic-electoronics-431x300Called Hertz, they apologized and said to bring it back and they would gas it up. Then Benedetto called and asked me to return to the scene of the crime, meet AAA with the key to the car, follow it to the repair shop, pay AAA if needed, and explain the situation to the repair place. But get the gas first.

On my way to Hertz, Petya and I spy the huge tow trailer, so we swing in there first. He had arrived earlier than expected. I’m praying now that I’ll have enough gas. The tow truck operator takes my particulars and the key, and agrees to meet me at the car repair across town. Naturally, no time for gas.

I enter the repair shop and offer to explain the situation to one of the technicians.

“Yes, your husband already phoned,” he nods, calling the make and model of the car.mechanic1-s

“Do you need me to tell you what’s wrong with it?” I ask.

“It’s broken,” he shrugs.

I go on to rehearse in great detail exactly what happened and how. He tells me he needs a six-pack of beer. With earnest conviction I inform him that I had not intended my day to turn out this way, but that if the Lord could help me, stranded in the middle of the highway, then the Lord could help him, too.

thHe smiled. The towing was free. We eventually got gas at Hertz. The two of us, once home, accomplished quite an amount of work late into the afternoon. At night, I took Petya to celebrate the end of the season and surviving this day. Not in training any longer, he ordered a double cup of coffee ice cream with bites of Rocky Road, just for me.

I am now driving a very cute rental car, the repair guys found the problem which was a minor electrical thing, I enjoyed a spoonful of ice cream, and nobody was killed or maimed. A good day overall. as I count my blessings.


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