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A Safe Haven

March 27, 2011


The emergency ambulance transfer to Wichita late Saturday morning was uneventful – until we arrived at the hospital.

When our driver transferred his foot from the accelerator to the brakes as we approached the hospital – he got a Big Surprise – the power brakes were powerless!

Luckily, our driver has a few whiskers – of age and of facial.

He quickly went into old school “stomp ’til you stop” mode, semi-quickly bringing us to a stop. He did such a fine job that the folks in the back – including myself -didn’t even know there was a problem.

Once we moved our patient into the hospital and transferred care, we came back to the ambulance to visit about our situation. Since we still had brakes, albeit a non-power version, we decided to hobble our one-hundred mile way back home.

Off we headed towards home.

After thirty or so miles it appeared that our fortune had changed. Then we noticed a funny smell – burnt rubber.

Like a message sent from above, the road-side sign ahead said “City of Haven.” We pulled into the convenience store not knowing what our next step would be.

Once we were again safely stopped, we got out and popped the hood. Even my low IQ mechanical brain could see that a certain pulley wheel – that the rubber drive belt was running over – was not turning. It also looked hot. I confirmed that notion when I reached out and touched it.

As I was licking the welt on my finger, a red-haired/red-bearded man with a weathered ball cap stepped out of his white Ford Ranger. James sauntered over and asked about our problem. I explained in my most unsophisticated mechanical lingo that we had what I thought to be a brake vacuum pump that was frozen.

James said the only place open today was the Chevrolet garage and offered me a ride there without even being asked. As I opened the passenger’s side door, I had to move a wallet that was lying on the seat.

On our ride over to the dealership, James explained that we were lucky. The only reason he went to the convenience store was his wife had asked him to pick up a few brews for the weekend.

Our luck continued when I introduced myself to the lead mechanic of the dealership. Even though he had a garage full of vehicles he was working on (and he was closing in an hour) he stopped what he was doing and followed us – I rode with James – back to look at the ambulance.

The mechanic confirmed my diagnosis with a more sophisticated description, but told us he couldn’t get the parts until Monday. He offered to get us a rental vehicle to get us back home, but I told him I thought my beloved wife would come get us.

The mechanic led us into the sales room of the dealership where we would wait for our ride home. Comfortable chairs, television, cookies, and coffee.

“Haven” is the name of the city.

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