“Do you feel that?” I asked, as a noticeable shake and loud rumble overtook the music volume. “Oh shit, something isn't right.” We woke up in a truck stop just off the freeway somewhere in western Sweden, made breakfast and hit the road with our sights set on Norway. We… Oh yeah, Jazmin went back to Vegas and 7 days later decided home isn't quite as fun as being on the road, so she came back for another month. So, we’re happily cruising along at 60 mph about 10 miles from Norway and Dan started doing something unfamiliar. “Do you feel that?” I turned down the tunes just in time to hear something ping off the bottom of the van as it coughed, sputtered and shut down as I dragged it to the shoulder. We gave each other the ‘oh shit’ face, I popped the hood, shimmied by the speeding traffic and tried to figure it out. Let it be known: I am not a mechanic. Actually, for someone who does a lot of driving… I’m mechanically inept outside of changing a tire.
I noticed two things… One, the engine wouldn't even try to start, but the lights worked. I checked the battery and connected/disconnected the +/- twice and no luck. Two, one of the tanks was empty under the hood so I must be out of oil. I hitchhiked 10 or so miles back to a town, bought oil and a coke and hitchhiked back. Dumped in the oil, shut down the hood, turned the ignition and VOILA! Nothing happened. I ran across the freeway bridge in front of me to the nearest house and asked the man to call me a tow truck. I diverted speeding traffic as he hoisted our van from it’s gravel resting place and he drove us to the nearest body shop. After they cleaned out the water tank that I poured oil in… and reconnected the starter wire that jiggled loose, the car still wouldn't go over 15mph without a shaking like a four wheeled tickle me elmo. This happened last Thursday. Since then Jazmin and I have been living at a mechanics shop. That glorious Friday afternoon we put the car on the lift and found out the real problem, somehow the main shaft from the transmission to the drive shaft…. (the mechanics that make the car go forward), got bent. “Oh fuck…” is the not what you want to hear out of a mechanics mouth, and was repeated by the other two mechanics. “Oh fuck” I thought.
I spent Friday researching the gear box and junkyard stock and Saturday exploring said junkyard. Nothing. Hard to find replacement parts for a 30 year old van in Sweden, especially when the gear box was only produced in 5 years of the model…great.
Sunday came and went. We showered inside at the mechanic shop, watched a movie with the guy who runs the place, and parked our van in the lot and they even let us hook up to power. They loaned us a rental car whenever we needed it, gave us their wifi password, invited us to go to the local pool/spa, bought us pizza one night and even allowed us to do our laundry. These guys have created an environment for us that we are beyond grateful for. The past 7 days we’ve watched 4 movies in John’s apartment above the shop (tonight we are watching The Accountant).
We’ve had a cold fridge in the van, and have made several trips to the grocery store for beer and food. We’ve walked all of the local malls, read or listened to books while it was raining and we stretch in the park when it’s nice. This definitely hasn't been an ideal situation but the hospitality of this shop has made the most of a bad situation. It’s humbling to have a group of strangers genuinely welcome you to their home/place of work and care about how you are doing. Our acceptance of the situation and not fighting the situation has made it all manageable and actually quite enjoyable considering the circumstances. Sorry for the blah, blah story, I just wanted to bring you guys up to date on what ‘living the dream’ entails.
As always thanks so much for reading, commenting, sharing and well wishes along the way! You make this real!