Good Timing, Bad Luck


We were sitting in the turn lane waiting to turn into the highway when the van had a seizure. Very suddenly, all the power to the dashboard died: the radio fell silent, and all the gauges dropped to zero.

“That’s not good…” The Curmudgeonly Lion took in this development and immediately switched the turn signal from the left to the right to pull out of the turn lane instead of getting on the highway. We turned onto a neighborhood street to try to figure out what was going on.

“Do you think it’s the battery?”

“Or the alternator… Or I jacked something up when I replaced the O2 sensor…”

The blinkers still worked. We turned on the hazards. The air conditioning still worked but we were flying blind.

“Let’s turn it off and turn it on again.” The Curmudgeonly Lion was nothing if not an IT professional. This was the obvious first step.

“Hang on-” I said, with visions of a dead van stranded on a neighborhood street dancing through my head. “There’s a PepBoys a couple blocks up on Sepulveda: let’s see if we can get there before we turn it off… You know, just in case.”

Because, you know, I just so happened to know the exact location of the nearest Pep Boys. But I did: we were only a few blocks away from my morning bus stop and I stand every morning in front of a Pep Boys waiting for the express bus. So even if the van died, we could still take the bus home.

Win/win.

Or, at least, a slightly less horrible form of Fail.

The van staggered into the Pep Boys parking lot on the last of its will. We found a lane that pointed towards the maintenance bays without disrupting too much of the traffic flow, and shut it down.

“Ok here goes nothing…”

The Curmudgeonly Lion turned the key. The van clicked but failed to start. Dead.

“Welp, I guess it’s good we made it here.” He said, and went inside to make arrangements. It was lucky we had made it to the Pep Boys. It was lucky that we hadn’t turned onto the highway. It was lucky that we were driving the van at all: we’d driven it over to my sister Bean’s place for breakfast with the intention of lending it to her so she could make a trip to Ikea to pick up a mattress. She’d had the foresight to call the store to make sure the mattress was in stock before making the trip and had learned that the shipment wasn’t due for another day, so we’d elected to take the van back instead of borrowing their car.

So it could have been my sister in the car with her one year old with the ear infection stranded in a power-dead van in the vortex of the Burbank Ikea. Oh the humanity!

So really, as bad luck goes it was just about the best timed bad luck that it was possible to have. It only cost us seven hundred dollars.

I choose to believe, as wretchedly sentimental as it sounds, that bad luck of this kind is the work of the angels. When things go wrong with this kind of extraordinary precision, I can’t help but think that there is a benevolent force of some kind that is redirecting me. It doesn’t make me grateful: angelic intervention or not, it’s still an inconvenient pain in the ass, but I try to at least believe that the inconvenience and pained-assery of it is necessary to some higher purpose.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 27, 2018.

2 Responses to “Good Timing, Bad Luck”

  1. Sooo, What was wrong with the van?

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