I really, really like my minivan. She is almost ten years old and has 131,000+ miles to her credit. She is a more reliable friend than most of the people in my life. Always right where I need her to be. Never complains when I use her for my sole benefit. Quiet. Accepting of all whomever and whatever comes her way. Carries my burdens. Takes me where I need to go and brings me back without reservation or hesitation. She doesn't ask for much: just a full tank every week, air in her tires, and for her various fluid levels to be topped off regularly.
If I don't take proper care of her, however, she lets me know.
One time last fall, she took an unexpected break. I had gone out to dinner with a friend before heading off to a Bible study. When I emerged from the restaurant and bid farewell to my friend, I got into my van and turned on the engine. Then I pulled out my phone to see if I'd missed any messages. After that, I looked up and realized that the engine wasn't running.
So I started my baby up again. She turned over, but wouldn't stay on.
My dinner companion was now gone. I was alone in the parking lot with a non-starting minivan.
Thanks be to God - I was parked next to a Firestone repair shop. They couldn't do anything that day because it was closing time, but they promised to check her out the next day. My sweet and understanding friend came back to the restaurant and took me where I needed to go. (Gracias, Ale.)
The dreaded call came early the next morning. I braced myself against the kitchen counter and asked for the diagnosis: "Ma'am, we checked everything we could think of but we couldn't find anything. So we cleaned the throttle body ("whatever that is," I thought) and replaced three rear lights that were out. You can come get the van at anytime. The total is $58." Well, maybe it wasn't exactly $58, but it was certainly less than $60.
And once, back in 2004, my dear minivan began to have problems keeping the air in her front right tire. I am enormously grateful that there is an indicator light in the dashboard that tells me when the tire pressure gets low. I got into the habit of stopping for air every few days to refill it. On a trip up to Vermont with the kids, I dreaded the possibility of the tire going flat on some destitute stretch along the highway. Fortunately, that didn't happen.
What did happen was this: the children and I emerged one morning from a lovely bed and breakfast in Northampton, Massachusetts to find the tire completely flat. We loaded our bags and ourselves into the van and drove next door (thanks be to God!) to a service station. The friendly gentleman who worked there asked me if I wanted him to fill the tire or fix it. I braced myself against the front counter (something I do often when I have to ask the price of something!) of his shop and asked how much it would cost to fix it. He said, "$5." I said, "You can go ahead and fix it, thank you."