Golden gladiators shuffling down a long and dusty driveway. I knock on the farmhouse door, and sheepishly pointing to the Mercedes on the side of the road, ask if I could make a phone call. It may be twenty years old, but this car is still a fish out of water along the forgotten backroads of South Carolina. Instead of handing over his cell phone, my new friend gets right to work, slithering under the trunk of my car to take a look. He determines that the job is too big for him and calls his friend, who drives over to help a city damsel in distress. Between the two of them, they reattach my muffler with a few coat hangers and point me in the direction of Mercer's Mufflers.
Mercer's turns out to be the kind of place you would have thought was closed twenty years ago. I don't see anything in sight that isn't covered in rust, and there's no office, waiting room, or vending machine. There's just this one guy, Richard, or as his friends call him, Roach. He clamps the muffler on for $10 and replaces a rusted out pipe for $40 more while I wander around the place taking photos and hoping he isn't offended by my intrigue. As it turns out, this sketchy twist of events is a blessing. When I talked to Tim hours later, he said he was looking for just this sort of guy to help us detour around a $400 Mercedes muffler replacement.
It's funny how a good turn of events overshadows a few bad moments. This all started because I heard some tin cans clanking behind my car and knew I wasn't a newlywed. I was stranded on the side of a two lane road in inland SC with no phone and no friend. Nonetheless, four nice guys turned this day into a gift so that I barely remember that I wouldn't have needed them without that car trouble. Maybe it's good to need them. Maybe a little dependence is healthy.
Someone (and it may be my Dear Husband) will use this story as an excuse to insist that I need a cell phone. Perhaps that's true, but there's another side to this, too. It turned out better that I didn't have one. Sure, I could have called right up and gotten someone to come out and tow my car to the nearest Midas 36 miles away. They would have replaced my muffler and I would have been on my way, my wallet a lot lighter and my car in great shape. Instead I made a few friends, got some great photos, proved to myself that I can survive a little car trouble, and had my muffler fixed instead of replaced. I suppose we'll see how that turns out in the long run. For today, I'm all gratitude and not a bit annoyed with the detour.