By Kathy Fawcett
The quickest way to find out is to lose your fuel pump capability on I-94 East while passing through Gary, Indiana. Okay, let’s throw in rush hour to make it interesting. My Suburban is a great car for family road trips, and I felt pretty on top of this trip as the responsible party for both my 87-year-old mother, and my adolescent son and nephew, who were riding in the back. I was getting Mom home; she had a case of bronchitis that was just about to land her in the hospital, and I thought she’d rather be in the Mendota, Illinois hospital, rather than in Michigan.
We had just passed our two-hours-to-go landmark when my car lost all acceleration. I had enough juice to pull over to the side of the freeway. My mom was a huge help–full of the wisdom of what Susan would do in this situation (Susan is my often perfect older sister who has to find her cell phone owner’s manual before making each call). Thankful for my own fully-charged cell phone, and a working knowledge of it, I called AAA. The whooshing semis were so loud, I could hardly hear the lady, although I could make out the crinkling of her “map of obscure mechanics” as she searched for the most inconvenient one in Gary.
I asked if there was a Chevy dealer nearby. Hey, great idea! Why didn’t she think of that? And it was just four miles away! But, she told me, only one could ride in the truck. No, she couldn’t help me call a taxi for my mom and the boys.
Here’s where I truly found THE DIFF incarnate. I called the dealer personally, and told my troubles to a woman named Lisa. My car is coming your way, I told her. The biggest problem, I explained, is that the tow truck could take only me. Now, my 87-year-old, sick-as-a-dog mom isn’t going to keep track of my 13- and 14-year-old boys, nor was the opposite true. Lisa was all over this. “Sit tight, I’m sending Brian to come and get your family. He’ll be in a blue Tahoe, and he’s leaving right now.”
I can’t tell you the relief I felt at having Lisa take charge. “I’m a mom too,” she said. At that moment, Lisa was my mom…the mom of all moms…mom to the world. If there was a kiosk selling mugs by the side of the road, I would have bought a “World’s Best Mom” mug for Lisa. It’s a strange occurrence for an adult to realize that their parent needs parenting. Sitting by the side of the road, I had a very “Sandwich” moment, when both my mother and my boys needed me to remain in control. But there was Lisa! She made all the difference that day.
As I’m waiting for Brian in the blue Tahoe, I see this tiny bungalow, just feet from the freeway, and I think, “Who’d live so close to ten lanes of traffic?” I’ll tell you who, another woman with THE DIFF lives there. She came trudging across her yard, around the fence and through the swampy ravine to see if she could help us in any way. She gave water bottles to mom and I, then went back to get more water for “the babies.” Mom and I thought this was pretty funny; that the “babies” she referred to were these nearly six-foot lugs who perpetually made the entire Suburban smell like feet. But we kept that to ourselves.
Brian showed up in record time. We were hydrated, we were safe. We were on the road again in no time. Now, the rental car guy? Anti-DIFF. But that’s another story.