Cadeau: An agreeable breakdown
To tell the truth, I've been fairly lucky with my car misfortunes — and there have been several — so far. Usually whenever I've encountered a car problem, I'd found it early on, dealt with it and moved on.
But when my car started to accelerate weirdly on my to Two Harbors from Silver Bay last weekend, my luck ran out. And so did my transmission.
After hitting the construction delay in Silver Creek, my car refused to accelerate again, causing me to pull over into the Betty's Pies parking lot. I was grateful to be off the highway, but my car stopped in the middle of the lot. I kept trying to move it, just a little more out of the way.
Two men waiting under the tent by the restaurant noticed my struggle and offered to push me into a spot. With me steering and their help, I was able to get out of the way.
This theme of helpful strangers continued when I inquired inside the restaurant about a tow truck. While the hostess didn't have an answer for me, a couple overheard my question and volunteered to help me figure out what was wrong with my car.
Their car had been acting up before they left for this vacation up the shore, so the husband had packed his computer code reader. He plugged it in and confirmed that it was definitely my transmission acting up and that I'd better find that tow truck.
After arranging that tow, I headed into the restaurant to eat while I waited. I sat at the end of the counter and tried to concentrate on the ebook on my phone to take my mind off of my worries. One of the servers must have noticed my expression, as she asked how I was doing.
"Oh, I've had better days," I said.
"What's going on?" she asked.
I explained the situation. She offered me a piece of pie, on her.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Absolutely, pie always helps on bad days," she said.
The pie did help, but her kindness helped more.
When I went to leave, another server made sure I had a glass of water to-go, since it was over 85 degrees outside and I wasn't sure how much longer the truck would be.
Once outside, I noticed there were definitely worse places to be stuck. Most breakdowns probably don't happen within walking distance of pie. And there was the weather and the time of day, the fact that it wasn't the middle of winter or midnight. Insurance was helping cover the tow.
The trend of gratitude continued when the truck arrived. Although it was technically the driver's day off, the Two Harbors Towing driver agreed to come in and give me a lift since the other driver was on his way back from Brainerd. While driving back to Duluth, we talked about classic cars while classic rock played on the radio — another thing to be grateful for, at least I didn't have to suffer through country music.
Saturday was a pretty bad day. My car broke down. I missed Chalk.a.Lot. But it was probably the most agreeable breakdown I'll ever have, thanks to the kindness I experienced from people from and passing through Lake County.
Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle.