Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bring it on home...

One week from today, my parents will be going back home.

And it is an amazing feeling to know that our worst fears, or even our smallest fears, were never realized.

When we were at the end of two days of dizzying work evacuating them from the Dakota Dunes almost three months ago, we all were saying "Let's hope all this work is for nothing."

And it was.

Despite the record flooding, not a drop of water went into my parents' home, thank God.

Tragedy was averted. The sandbags AND prayers helped us escape the flood.

And while it might be easy to second-guess our efforts, I have to say I'm very happy it happened.
The entire situation made me realize even more than before why I love my hometown, and most importantly, the people there.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If I ever have to face difficult times, or face a personal tragedy, God willing it would happen in Sioux City.

Because if it did, I know that I would not be left high and dry (pun intended).

But make no mistake, the flood did plenty of damage. The residents of Riv-R-Land Estates, just north of the Dunes, are wiped out, literally. And many residents of the Dunes also are facing either groundwater or floodwater in their homes.

We were lucky, not everyone was.

And for those impacted, I can only say that your neighbors are good people. Probably people you've gotten to know a little bit better through all this. So lean on them. And let them lean on you.

Next weekend, when I toast to my parents' return to their home, I'll also be toasting to my peeps.

Don't listen to the rest of the world, people rock!

Mazel tov!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Time the Auto Mechanic Wouldn't Take My Money

I detest taking my car into the mechanic.

Almost as much as I detest going to the doctor or dentist.

Ultimately, that fear usually bites me in the ass...delaying the visit makes things worse.

I've had my share of fun incidents with cars.

There was the time the engine on my Chevy Celebrity blew up on I-80, 60 miles from my home at the time in Iowa City.

My then wife was out of town, and I had no way to get home other than riding along with the tow truck. Yes, I used a 60 mile tow as my personal taxi.

Or the time my engine blew up on my Saturn. Or the other time my engine blew up on my Saturn.

So, this weekend, when my engine started to sputter, and surge up and down in RPMs, with a check engine light on, I was positive that the auto mechanic would be telling me my Saturn had cancer.

So much so that I was already shopping for used cars that fit my budget, planning to bring a new car home with me to the Tundra from my hometown of Sioux City.

Alas, I was wrong. As I approached the mechanic working on my car, I was prepared for the bad news.

"Well your engine is in incredible shape," he said.

Wait, what?

"Yeah, and I have it running pretty good at the moment. You could probably take it home with you to Minnesota and get it fixed up there, since that's your hometown."

I cringed.

"That's not my hometown. I just live there. This is my hometown," I told him.

I told him I was a little bit nervous, since he said that once my engine got cold, it would probably act up again.

"Well I can't get the part here for 4 days minimum. I bet they have it up in the Twin Cities. Plus then you'll be in your hometown where you know people."

I cringed again.

"That's NOT my hometown. I live there. I grew up here. THIS is my hometown," I reiterated.

I explained to him that this week at work was really crucial for me, and that I couldn't afford to have my car go out on me once I got up here.

"Well don't you have another car up there that you can use?" (THANK GOD he didn't end the question with "in your hometown.")

"No, no, I'm a single dad. No other car. That's all I've got," I told him.

"Well, Steve, if it was me, I'd drive it up to Minneapolis and get it fixed up there."

After a few dizzying moments of having my car doctor telling me to go home and find a different remedy, I put my foot down.

"No, go ahead and order the parts and I'll come back down to pick the car up when you're done."

He shrugged, and agreed...but only after I told him that I didn't want to risk having the car go out on my drive back to Minnesota with my boys in the car.

"Oh you have kids, well, yeah, I guess I wouldn't risk that either."

But he was okay with letting me get stranded in the middle of nowhere?

And so, in the end, we were in agreement. It was much better for me to get my car fixed in my hometown.