An Open Palm

Putting my foot down the engine hesitates, spits, and dies. It sounds good for a second, then nothing, just the wheels on the tarmac and a bit of wind through the window. I had enough momentum that I was able to pull off the main street and roll to a stop just alongside a fire station. This was the second time in one day that the the care had quit on me. While my wife and I went shopping in preparation for our guests, the old Chevy quit at a light and thankfully I was able to get it re-started and made it home without further event. This time, though, the worn out carburetor was doing nothing for my mood. Would I have to call a tow truck? But, for all the places to break down, in front of a fire station isn’t a bad choice. Good guys there, car guys, and they were more than happy to give me a jump and help me get the beast started. With a bit of a tweak and adjusting the carburetor to high idle, I made it home without incident.

So, let’s back up a bit, this isn’t the Chevy truck I’m talking about. This is the new beast in the garage. It’s a year older than the truck, but the drive train is straight out of the eighties. I like to think it was in some long hair punks Camaro. The motor was rescued and transplanted to the old body of the 51 Deluxe so time ago, and breathed new life again as a mellow cruiser. Now I have two vintage cars plus ole’ Red down at the hangar. And this new “accident” is quickly becoming a dear member of the family, while also telling me his moods and his personality. My wife named him “Mad Max”, and I suppose that does sort of suit his grumbling exhaust notes and temperamental drivability. But that’s the way with old things and even new friends. You have to dip your toes in slowly and feel the waters to avoid the rip tides.

When we are kids, we learn to be gentle with strange dogs; go slow, offer a hand, and wait. One of a three things will happen, we get bit, they run away, or they come close enough for a gentle pat. A lot of the same is true with meeting new people, even if they are distant family. And sometimes, without evening knowing it, we lose sight of who we are and have to back up and get to know ourselves again in a new light. Self-discovery is something a lot of people avoid, because it can unearth feelings that we can be afraid to face. Yet, we shouldn’t be afraid of this, as just with the strange dog, go slow and don’t beat yourself to death for your mistakes.

Just recently I had a business trip to take, and I could have flown, but I chose to drive and not deal with the hassle of airports, flight delays, and security lines. I wanted to freedom to just drive at a pace that I set and time to just be. Unfortunately, for the outbound trip I spent most of the time on the phone dealing with work calls, customer issues, and scheduling changes. Then upon arrival, I had to be the businessman – always negotiating, smiling, being charming. But on the return trip, that was all mine. No schedule. No calls. Just the road, my music, and my mind. It was a time to just be me, all alone in that car for over six hundred miles, only stopping for petrol, a coke, and a snickers bar. So would say driving twelve hundred miles in thirty-six hours is a bit ridiculous, but it gave me a chance to just relax, let my mind go and let the stress bleed out of my soul. As I got back, I was relaxed but road weary, yet rejuvenated in spirit. I had stories to share with my family, and a memory of a crazy road trip that I shall not forget.

Now, Mad Max, he may have bitten me twice, but getting frustrated wasn’t in the cards. All it took was a little money and patience, new carb and couple hours of getting to know him. I spent time in the early hours of the morning to remove the old worn parts and install the new shiny bits, an upgrade, and something that suited his personality. So, now the old car starts and idles smooth. You can put your foot down and there’s no hesitation, only power and torque. Sure, there’s still a putt-putt from a small exhaust leak, and a creaky rear muffler pipe, but Max is seeing a new light and a new life.

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