Turning bad into good - life lesson on the death of my favorite thing

I’m not a “things” person.

Truthfully, I’ve never understood the need to collect and hold on to inanimate objects. I suppose the fact that I own less than 100 items somehow validates my feelings about this.

But today, my feelings changed.

It all happened around 9:30a when the “engine light” came on while driving north on the Garden State Parkway, just outside exit 36 - Atlantic City turn off. The car stalled and I coasted over to the shoulder of the highway. I didn’t think too much about it as my car has over 225,000 miles on it and was starting to show signs of aging. I figured the worst case scenario would be me shelling out $500 for a fuel pump or something similar.

After spending fifteen minutes on the phone talking to a towing service, I finally got an answer that the road I was on was restricted and only the police could have me towed. So I called 911 and was hung up on. Then I called back and was patched through to an authorized towing company.

The truck arrived within twenty minutes of the call --then the operator took care of business, latching the tires and making everything secure. He dropped me off at a nearby service station (Firestone Complete Auto Care) where I paid the man and thanked him for the help.

Three hours later, the doctor (I mean, mechanic) came to me in the waiting room and gave me the diagnosis. “It’s all bad news, I’m afraid. The timing chain in the engine snapped causing a piston to go through its head. She's dead.”

“Okay. Thanks for being upfront with me." I took a breath and continued, "Can I get a second opinion?"

None was needed after I found out the cost of getting one; so I said my goodbyes, cleaned out the trunk, and called the salvage yard.

Needless to say, I was sad.

Sad, that it happened so fast. Sad, that it happened in Jersey. Sad, that life was going to be a little different.

What I couldn’t figure out was -- why was I sad about losing a thing?

As I pondered this question, memories started flooding into my mind about the adventures had in that car. It was the first car I ever owned and I remembered how excited I was to have something that new. I thought about the long, empty roads we travelled and about the time I ended up in lower Manhattan -- not to mention the cross continent trip to each of the states. I laughed to myself while thinking about the many nights I tried sleeping in the Mazda only to be awaken by snow plows, barking dogs, or stabbing pains from the seat belt clip on the driver’s seat. I really loved that car.

I now admit that “things” can have much more meaning and value than just the price tag. They carry invisibile value, a sense of security, and many memories with them.

With all that said, I will miss the silver Mazda (a lot) and our ten plus years together. I can only hope to find a vehicle that lives up to its memory.

How did this bad day get turned into a good day?
Needless to say, this was a bad day. Not just having my car die, but many smaller things which happened after actual event. (No need to name them all -- trust me, it was a very long day.)

But when I finally got out of New Jersey and drove over the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philly, I simply stepped my mind back from the moment and started focusing on the whole.

What I mean, is that when I was going through the events of the day, my stomach had an anxious feeling, my shoulders were tight, and negative thoughts crept in through my subconscious; but when I had a moment to dwell on the day as a whole, it was the good things that stood out.

For instance:

my car didn’t stall on any bridge, dangerous area, or even during rush hours 

the tow truck operator took me to a highly reputable service station 

the service station employees treated me with the highest respect and helped me figure out what to do with my deceased vehicle 

my insurance covered the towing bill ($68) and the manager at the Firestone station chose not to charge me for the diagnostic ($90) 

friends and family called asking what they could do to help 

I made it back home safely

When I thought about all of these factors, my stomach, shoulders, and mind felt much better. It turned my attitude around and gave me confidence that things will work out.

I am so thankful for the people I came in contact with that day. I can’t even begin to imagine what the day would have looked like without them.

Cheers to you all and cheers to the Mazda for giving me 200,000 good miles together!

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