Friday afternoon, sitting at my desk, minding my own business, I got the phone call I have been dreading since school started..."Amanda's car broke down on the interstate on the way home." Dave was calling to give me the news that she was still four hours from home and sitting alone along the road. Instant panic! We began working on a towing/repair plan and in the mean time Dave gave her some sage words of advice: "Call your brother." Mitch lives three hours closer than we do.
Naturally, Brother didn't answer his phone (He never answers his phone on the first call, but that's another discussion.) So, plan B - she called Kyle, a friend of Mitch's who stayed with us over the summer. "Hang on, I'm on my way" may possibly have been the sweetest words she had ever heard. Before he could mount his trusty (Mustang) steed and head towards the damsel in distress, Mitch returned her call, said "Hang on, I'm on my way!" and within minutes he, another friend, a tow rope and a pick-up were headed her way. Bubba to the rescue!
As Amanda was heaving a sigh of relief - between sobs - a third knight-in-shining-armor offered his services. A friend who had been on the phone with her when the car clunked heard "Oh my gosh! My car died!! I gotta call my dad!!!" - then click. I'm pretty sure the actual words of that sentence were unintelligible, seeing as they were screeched at top speed in a range only dogs can hear. He called back repeatedly, either concerned for her welfare or just curious about that screech-owl-like noise she made before hanging up. When he finally got through and learned of her predicament, he immediately responded, "Hang on, I'm on my way." Evidently that sentence is lesson #1 in Knight School. Assured that Sir Bubba was already in route, he offered words of comfort and signed off.
Meanwhile, on the home front, Dave and I had agreed that since insurance covers 100% of the cost for emergency towing, we should use that service. Next step was a phone call to Dave's sister who used to live in Abilene (the closest town to Daughter's location) for a recommendation on towing/repair services. She wasn't up to date on mechanics in a town she hasn't lived in for 15 years (go figure) but she would call Aunt Janet. Aunt Janet - actually aunt to sister-in-law's ex-husband - gave her advice and even offered to go pick Amanda up or at least sit with her at the shop. Keep in mind that she's never met this girl (or at least not since Amanda was an infant) and sister-in-law hasn't officially been part of her family for many years.
Armed with Aunt Janet's suggestions, I made two more phone calls. One got me a grandfatherly tow-truck driver who responded, "I'll head that way right now." (Evidently he's been to Knight School, too.) The second found a mechanic who could get started on repairs that afternoon. Soon, Daughter was pacing in the waiting room at Holm Motors in Abilene (Good place - give them your business if you're ever stranded near there!) The employees there took pity on the teary, nervous girl and provided a candy bar, can of pop and the tv remote.
Not long after, Lone Ranger and Tonto (Mitch and friend, Matt) rode in, loaded her up and delivered her safely to their fraternity house back in Hays, where I picked her up and brought her on home. Even before the trip was complete, the mechanic called to say her car was up and running (her coil housing shorted out, whatever that means), but he had discovered another problem that needed attention, so on Sunday we returned Dear Daughter to Abilene, sent her on back to college in our car and drove hers home for Dad to fix.
Is there a point to this long and rambling tale - other than "Thank heaven for cell phones?" Yes - two actually.
1. The world is full of good people. The media tells only the horror stories; the muggings, car-jackings, murders, rapes, and abductions that make us fearful of everyone around us. We have given our children - especially our daughter - many lectures on safety and self-defense tactics. Don't walk with your head down - Don't be too busy texting to watch around you - Look in the back seat before you get in the car - Call for an escort if you have to walk on campus after dark--
But no one tells the stories of the good people - the ones who help a stranger, who go out of their way to do a favor, who will drop anything to come to your aid. And we don't teach our children to get to know those people. Each of those people has a story. Talk, and more importantly, listen to the people you meet - even in passing - and lend a hand where you can.
2. As Amanda was waiting on the tow truck and then for her brother, she had time to fill so - I'm so proud! - she read a book. When Knight #3 called back to check on her, he asked what she was doing. She said "I'm reading my Hunger Games book (#2)." He said "Good idea. Read about somebody who's life sucks worse than yours." :) So the moral of the story: always carry a book, just in case.