A Blessing and A Curse

“May you live in interesting times” (Phony Chinese curse)

Sometimes co-workers greet my husband with “How’s life?” EJ usually replies, “Boring. Very Boring.” They always respond, “Oh, that’s too bad.” EJ says, “No, it’s good. Think about it: ‘Boring’ means there’s no explosions at work, we aren’t unemployed, no one in our family has been in a car accident, we don’t have any major diseases. ‘Boring’ is good.” “I see your point,” they say.

We have been living in very interesting times this summer. I’m ready to experience “boring” for awhile. Our lives keep getting more and more interesting.

Yesterday EJ and I went to the doctor about my reoccurring rash. Well, actually our doctor’s schedule was full so we saw her physician’s assistant, Kathy. Kathy is very sweet and she said that the rash is psoriasis or eczema. It is likely to recur, but it is not serious. She said she has dealt with this many times before (and many have worse cases than me) and she has developed a “rash plan,” which, if I follow, should keep the rash under control. She handwrote out her plan, which includes using some OTC meds like Clariton and Benedryl, a prescription cream, gentle hand soap, and gentle lotion. She wrote down when and how to use each item. I was so relieved to know what was causing the rash and to have a plan. I think the worse thing is not knowing what is causing a medical condition.

On the way home, I told EJ that it looked like our life was finally settling down for us: We have a rash diagnosis and plan, the cats diarrhea and worms are disappearing, the flea problem is under control. Whew!

And then life got interesting again.

Twice this week–on Tuesday and again on Thursday–JJ called me on his way home from school to tell me that his car was beeping that he had “low fuel.” JJ thought he might have been siphoned–and theft does increase in hard economic times–but I remembered that EJ had said that modern cars usually have anti-siphoning devices so a car can’t be siphoned. I thought JJ had just forgotten to check the gas gauge because he is not used to keeping an eye on it since he didn’t drive the car much until recently. Forgetting to put gas in the car once is just, well, forgetting.  Twice in one week is getting old. “You are responsible for keeping enough gas in the car,” I told him, “and you MUST make sure you have enough.” The worrying thing is that EJ drives the truck to work and JJ drives the car to school so I have no transportation to help JJ if he has problems on the way home from school.

Horror Photo: http://www.desvirtual.com
Horror
Photo: http://www.desvirtual.com

JJ made it home ok. He was very tired from not sleeping well the night before, but he had to work last night. He stopped at the local gas station before driving in to work. A few minutes after he left, I got a call from him: “Mom, I accidentally put $20 worth of diesel fuel in the car instead of gas.”

With all the other problems we have had this summer, this was too much. Instead of my life flashing before my eyes, our finances flashed before my eyes. If we are very careful and very frugal, we will have absolutely everything paid off, including our house, in about two years. Meanwhile, money is tight. The car isn’t yet paid off, we can’t afford expensive repairs, and we can’t afford to buy another car. If the car is ruined, JJ will have no transportation to get to college…

A flurry of calls and texts erupted. I called EJ at work and he said, “Tell JJ NOT TO START THE CAR under any circumstance.” I called JJ at the gas station. He said, “I had to start the car to move it away from the gas pumps…” I called EJ, “Oh, no! Call a tow truck and have them take it to the repair shop and call the repair shop…” I called JJ, “A stranger at the gas station gave me money to put gas in the car and he said the car is ok to drive.” I said, “You have no idea who this stranger is or if his advice is good. Do NOTHING until you talk to your Dad.” “But Mom…” “Do what I say! NO ARGUMENT.” Argue, argue, argue between my sweet strong-willed son and me.

EJ talked to co-workers who know cars. I do not know cars or car lingo, but apparently the stranger had advised JJ correctly about filling the gas tank to dilute the diesel fuel. The stranger had also bought JJ some…I think it’s oxidizer liquid or something…to put in the tank. These actions helped save our engine. EJ told me to cancel the tow truck and told JJ he could drive to work since he probably would still be driving on gas instead of fuel. Then EJ took a few hours off work, filled the tank again with gas from his gas can, and drove the car to the repair shop across the street. Then we waited.

Gas/Diesel Pump
Gas/Diesel Pump

Diesel nozzles are usually bigger than gas nozzles so that people can’t accidentally put diesel in their cars. EJ asked how JJ got the diesel nozzle into the car. JJ said the diesel nozzle slid right into the car with no problem. After investigating the car, it looks as though someone defeated the anti-siphoning device on our car, denting our car slightly, and did steal some gas. This is why JJ was unaware until too late that he was putting diesel in our car and that is why he had low gas.

I asked my FB friends to pray. Friends from around the world began to pray. (Did I tell you that I love FB?)

This morning EJ talked to the repair shop. It would have been best not to ever start the car, but the repairman said that every action taken after that was exactly the right thing to do. We drove to the repair shop and the guy repeated that it should be ok to drive the car if it is driven with care, gas is put in frequently to dilute the diesel, and the oil is changed in a bit, and stuff like that.

The shop charged us….NOTHING.

"Let me do the math here..." Jayne Cobb, Firefly Series
Jayne Cobb, Firefly Series

If the car had needed repairs, JJ was going to have to pay as much as he could for them. I asked EJ to let me tell JJ how much this was going to cost him. When we got the vehicles home, I called to JJ, who was upstairs studying, “You need to come down so I can tell you how much this is going to cost you.” He came down groaning. Because we love to quote from movies, I quoted from Jayne Cobb, a character on Firefly, our favorite TV series:

“Let me do the math here… nothin’ and a nothin’, carry the nothin’…” 

“You mean it’s going to cost NOTHING?” JJ exclaimed. “Are you serious? Whew!” We are all so relieved. And so thankful. This is an answer to prayers from friends around the world. THIS is God giving us a gift. Of course, I think it’s also a gift when things don’t turn out the way I want because often those times end up teaching me a lot. However, those “not-turning-out-the-way-I-want” experiences are not so obvious or easy to see at first.

I found out later just how sweet the gift was. Besides the repair shop not charging us anything, while he was at the gas station, not just one stranger helped JJ, but a group did. A group of people gave him advice. Several people gave him money to get gas to dilute the diesel, and one man bought him the oxidizer. JJ is going to the gas station to see if he can get their names so he can thank them and offer to pay them back. I guess we raised him right.

We stopped at the Farmer’s Market when we went to retrieve the car from the repair shop. We bought honey, maple syrup, eggs, and a bushel of apples.

I didn’t have time to make challah bread this morning, so I will make it this afternoon. I also hope to mow the lawn this afternoon and try to work in my garden.

It’s a beautiful day.

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