When Things Go Wrong, I Realize All That is Right

Create Vision and Respond to Change, Inner Permaculture, Life Choices, Make No Waste, People Care, Permaculture Principles / Thursday, November 13th, 2014

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This morning I loaded all three of my little ones into our rarely driven minivan for a trip into the city.  We scarcely make trips into London, except when necessity requires it.  I have an upcoming date with a collective kitchen, which is a small group of homesteading women who get together to share in creating food, remedies, home crafts, and whatever else seems useful.  We’re meeting on Sunday, and I needed to pick up something for our get together.  Unfortuantley I did not find what I was looking for, but in the spirit of ‘make no waste’ while in the city, I decided we had enough time to head to the thrift store on the other side of town.  It’s my favourite thrift store, Talize.  I had just been there on Monday for their half price sale, which I always make an effort to attend since this is one of the main ways we clothe our family and home.  I had to rush that day, since I had an appointment to make, so I ended up buying several sweaters for Rob and multiple pairs of jeans for myself without trying them on.  One of the reasons I love Talize is that they take returns for a week, which allows me to shop by myself and take things home for the family to try on.

We went into the store, returned our unwanted items, browsed around the toy aisle for a while, while my children played nicely with items that weren’t theirs; carefully putting things back on the shelf when they were finished with them.  The baby was getting fussy, so we headed for the exit.  I got the boys buckled into their carseats and turned on some music for entertainment while I fed the baby.  She was nearly done when the music suddenly cut out.  The boys asked why it stopped.  I postulated that perhaps our new van had a feature to protect the battery, should the key be left in the ‘accessory’ position for too long.  I tried turning the key from the passenger seat where I was still nursing.  The engine did not turn over.  I put the baby in her car seat, and went around to the driver side.  I tried again, this time using the gas pedal as incentive.  Nothing.

At this point, I realized we were in a bit of trouble.  I didn’t have my ’emergency cell phone’ with me (irony or symbology?).  We have not got roadside assistance, nor did I even have jumper cables on board.  So here I was stuck in a parking lot with 3 tired children, and 2 hungry boys, as it was just about noon.  I explained what was going on to everyone in the car, then headed out into the parking lot to try and find some caring soul to help.  I asked several people as they approached their cars…perhaps 5 or 6.  It seems that not many people carry jumper cables with them.  Then there were no people left to ask.  I decided to take the two garbage bags of donations I had brought with me to the drop off window, and would ask the employee if they had any cables.  No such luck.  Next door to the thrift store, there was a middle eastern food place.  I stepped inside the door, and inquired to all who would listen about whether there was anyone who may be able to help me.  A man spoke up and said he had cables and could help me out.  His family was just finishing their meal.  He asked me which car was mine and told me he would meet me outside.

I went back to the car and explained what would happen next to the children.  When I returned to the car, no one was crying, no one was complaining.  The man brought his family over to ours in their car.  He hooked up the cables like a pro (despite my protests about the order of cable attachment based on my brief reading of the car manual).  He had it going in a few minutes.  I offered him an unused gift card from my wallet for a local food place, which he protested at first, but accepted in the end.  I was so very grateful for that man and his understanding family.  What would I have done without them?

“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

~Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

So many things about this morning’s adventure were right.  The man who took time from his family and life to help me.  The patience, understanding and compassion of my children.  The confidence I had that I could find a solution.  The calmness with which I was able to approach the situation.  The gratitude my eldest son expressed to me on the way home, “Thank you Mommy, for asking so many people for help.  You were able to get our car fixed.  I love you.”

9 Replies to “When Things Go Wrong, I Realize All That is Right”

    1. Thank you for your kind words! My son is such a sweet and thoughtful soul…but to keep it real, he’s also like most 4 year olds, and has yet to develop consistency. Blessings often come when you need them the most!

  1. Wow, you kept calm and made the whole situation work out well. I would have been a nervous wreck which is why I ALWAYS carry jumper cables. When you have time, check the battery cables to make sure they are tight. Also check where the battery ground cable is bolted to the frame. I’ve had that go loose even on a new car.
    Nice going on buying from thrift stores. We do that too. My MD sister does as well. Good clothing, good prices, and good sustainability efforts.

    1. Thanks! I try to only buy used. Kijiji and thrift stores for us! The reduction in carbon footprint by shopping used is enormous! I appreciate your advice about the van, I will check my connections. It may very well be that our battery needs to be replaced. We had it go dead last winter too once. I think it’s a combination of us not driving it much, and when we do, it’s always short trips. Also, Our “new” car is a 2007…speaking of buying used 😉

      1. Our new car is a 2004, bought in 2006. It’s our only car having reduced down from three cars at one time when the kids were living at home. Yes, I believe in buying used for the good of the planet. We also believe in car-free days. We get our mail in town, which is only a 3 mile round trip, so we usually can achieve that on bicycle except when it’s raining hard. Working to get 50% car-free days for this year, we’re at about 49% now. With your public transportation in a big city, I bet you’re over 50% car-free!

        1. We try to have car free days too. It’s been easier to achieve now that I have little ones! I try to ‘batch’ errands so that we only have to go out once and get a load of things accomplished. We don’t live in London, but in a small village about 20 minutes away. We used to live in Toronto, and didn’t own a car, but times have changed for us, and this season in our life warrants owning 2 cars. One for my husband to commute to work, the other for family use. I should track our usage, and see if we’re making the 50% mark or not!

  2. A heart warming story, and I guess that most of us have been in similar ‘car’ situations and have also always had help. People are basically good, and it’s always reassuring to be reminded of this, thank you.

    1. People can be so good, but often we don’t get the chance to see it. We are living in such a disjointed world that it is amazing what it takes for us to do a bit of ‘connecting’ with others. I wouldn’t have been able to approach all of those strangers without such a ‘good reason.’ On some level, it makes me realize just how much we need to grow communities!

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