Taking a road trip in a classic car is an act of faith. When you slide into a vehicle that's almost six decades old, there's always an element of uncertainty that rides along with you. Old cars get finicky, creaky, cranky, and downright obstinate at times. If you're expecting the reliability of a Honda when you buy a classic car, you're shopping in the wrong showroom.
These old automobiles are unique, what with their fins, scoops, portholes, drop-tops, and white-wall tires. And the colors! Mint green, coral, turquoise, yellow, and of course, cherry red. Nothing lifts your spirit like driving around town and getting a thumbs-up from total strangers.
But there's a flipside to the show-off-y fun of having an old car, and that's the niggling little concern that you're actually going to get where you want to g--and back home again.
We have a 1957 T-Bird. It's the iconic white, port-holed beauty of American Graffiti, minus the stunning blond behind the wheel. It's a great rid--most of the time. But there have been occasions when we set off cruising down the road, smooth as silk, and came home in the cab of a tow truck with the T-Bird bouncing on the flatbed behind us.
It's smart for old cars to travel in flocks. The guys who love these cars also seem to love what goes on under the hood. So when they travel, they travel prepared. I don't mean my kind of prepared--which is a flashlight in the glove box and an extra jacket in the trunk. No, these guys carry toolboxes equipped with wrenches, fan belts, fuel lines, clamps, electrical tape, and bailing wire. They're not only prepared to fix what ails their own car, they're ready with extras to help others along the way, too.
Recently we traveled with a group of car folks from Albuquerque to Durango for a classic car show. Along the way our T-Bird began to stutter up every hill. Craig pumped the accelerator, and we lurched and hiccupped to the top of the hill when the fuel finally caught up with the gas pedal and we were back up to speed. Until the next hill. And the next. Until we eventually rolled to a stop on the shoulder.
Let me tell you, the view from the side of the road is pretty sobering. I looked out over the bleak New Mexico landscape, where there wasn't a blade of grass or a scrap of shade in sight. Cars whooshed by, giving us a cheerful thumbs-up from air-conditioned comfort. Really?
But then the rest of our group pulled up behind us like the Classic Car Coast Guard. The men lifted the hood, scratched their heads, and considered the problem. Then, one of the guys said to Craig, "Would you mind if I drove it? I can't really understand what's going on until I get behind the wheel."
I was happy to do my part, so I leaped into his '65 Corvette with his wife, and we whizzed on to Durango. Meanwhile Steve and Craig put the T-Bird through its paces and came up with a diagnosis. Later at the motel, one guy donated a fuel line and another guy adjusted the floats in the carburetor, and we were once again deemed road-worthy. What a comfort. What solid help.
Makes me think about times in life when people we care about are broken down, out of gas, or have completely lost their way. Maybe they're alone, questioning their faith, or wondering why God hasn't seen fit to answer their prayers in a harsh situation. Maybe their health has broken down and they wonder if they'll ever be back up and running again.
I think we can take a lesson from the car guys. When you're traveling through life with people you care about, you just don't leave them on the side of the road to fend for themselves when they have problems. After all, everyone needs a jump-start from time to time. Even the spiritual heavy hitters, like the apostle Paul, went through times when they needed a friend to encourage their weary hearts, or a fellow traveler to bring them their forgotten cloak when winter was bearing down.
We should keep our spiritual toolbox well-stocked with encouragement, wisdom, compassion, and casseroles. And don't forget to slide behind the wheel of that person's life for a little bit so you can listen carefully and figure out just what might help them the most.
That's what the car guys do. And I like that. A lot.
Laura Z. Sowers
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Posted Jul 11, 2013 06:56:39 PM by Stephanie Atencio