I stood there holding the belt from my engine, and wondered if the wrong decision had been made.
It was the summer of 1996 when my children and I volunteered to help with a building project on one of the Navajo Indian Reservations in New Mexico. All three of my children were living at home at that time. My oldest daughter, Jessica, had her learner’s permit and drove some of the way there, but most of the way home.
At that time I owned a station wagon that, to be honest, should not have made that long of a trip. By the time we arrived in New Mexico we had experienced several blown fuses, and we had to replace the thermostat and the radiator cap because the vehicle kept over heating. I was just thankful that we were traveling in a caravan that had several men who were mechanics!
Once our portion of the building project was completed everyone in the group decided to go their own separate ways back to Oregon. Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive. My vehicle was, from my standpoint, unreliable. Nevertheless, I threw caution to the wind and my children and I began to make the trek home.
Somewhere outside of Moab Utah my car began making an odd noise. It sounded like a belt was slipping, or possibly something had seized up.
I pulled over at the nearest rest stop and popped the hood. Which, looking back on it now, was futile because I am not a mechanic! I can change my oil, check the fluids, change a tire, but that is all I know about cars. Anything more than that and I am lost.
As I was looking at the engine, and trying to figure out what was making all the noise, a young man, in his late 20’s, walked up and asked if I needed help. He looked at the engine and listened for a few seconds. He then asked Jessica to turn the key off. He looked at me, kind of grinned, pulled out a hunting knife, cut the belt and disconnected the wires running to the motor. He never said a word.
I was horrified.
As he was putting his knife away he said,
“That should take care of the problem.”
He pulled the belt off the pulley handed it to me and then walked away. I stood there looking at the belt in my hand and began gasping for air. I had no idea what the belt was operating, nor did I know if we needed that motor the man had disabled.
As I was standing there looking at the belt and watching the young man walk away, another gentleman walked by, and saw the look on my face. He saw the belt in my hand, looked at my engine and reassured me that the belt was for the A/C motor. He asked me if we had been using the A/C. I said no. He then went on to say that I did not need to worry. It did not impact the overall performance of the engine and since it was disabled I was good to go.
At that moment I knew I had to trust their knowledge, which was easier said then done, because I didn’t know them.
I threw the belt in the car, and got into the front seat passengers’ side. It was time to let Jessica drive for a while plus I wanted to listen to the engine. No one was allowed to speak as I aggressively listened and analyzed any and all “odd” noises for the next approximate hour.
While I was listening, for phantom noises, my neck became tense, my jaw was tight, and by the end of that hour I had a migraine headache. I had worried myself sick, and for no reason. Those gentlemen were right. We had no more major car issues the remainder of the trip home. In fact, there were some good family memories that were formed on that trip.
Even though it seemed scary at the time, in the end we drew closer together as a family, once I calmed down.
This morning as I was watching the morning news my neck began to hurt. My jaw started getting tight, and I could feel a headache coming on. Fear began to creep in and I began to remember that trip to New Mexico even though it was 17 years ago.
I remembered that A/C belt story. I remembered how scared I was thinking I was completely alone. I remembered how much fear I felt when I realized I had to put my trust in someone else’s knowledge, someone else that I did not know what their qualifications were, and I recalled how angry I was because I was so afraid.
As I watched the news it occurred to me that I was repeating the fear cycle I had then. I was once again in a cycle of “Fear of the unknown.” And yet I am not the only one who is experiencing this fear. Just watch 10 minutes of any morning news cast and you will see others who feel the same way.
Our country is, metaphorically speaking, at a rest stop in the desert somewhere outside of Moab Utah. We are broken down and waiting for help. We are hoping someone will come along with the right knowledge and the right tools to help with what looks like a hopeless situation.
I admit I do not know what the solution is for our country. My knowledge base for what ails us is as limited as my knowledge base was for trying to diagnose the problem with my car back then.
Yet, I know a solution is out there. It is just going to take some cooperation within society, faith in our fellow man, and a bit of blind trust for those who do know the solution.
Is that possible? I believe it is.
I watched the news for a few more seconds, and then turned the television off. I had a busy day and I knew I could not afford to be down with a migraine headache.
As I walked out to my truck to warm it up I knew what I needed. I needed my hope restored. I took a deep breath and tried to push, out of my mind, the fear I was feeling after watching the news. I began humming the music to one of my favorite songs, and favorite singers.
I popped the hood and checked the all the fluids. I saw the A/C motor, the pulley and the belt and once again I was reminded of the lesson I learned on that trip. It all worked; I was able to accomplish all the tasks I needed to accomplish for the day, and without a headache.
I kept the A/C belt from the station wagon for several years. I finally threw it out last spring. It hung in my garage on the wall next to my tools. It was a symbol and a lesson I wanted to remember.
To be honest, I wish I still had it. If I did it would hang on the wall in my office. Next to the other memorabilia that have lessons attached to them as well.