Waiting For Da Go

A team of horses being tended in the Andes Mountains of Mexico
Waiting somewhere in the Andes Mountains of Mexico

At one point or another in life, we all find ourselves waiting for something that never happens. While waiting, we often speculate and rationalize the situation, contemplating alternative scenarios, reasons, actions, moralities and with a dose of frustration. Such is life. Hurry up and wait is the old cliché.

My main photography vehicle is a 2010 Ford Explorer. It has close to 135,000 miles on it. It’s still in good shape. I’ve had the suspension, transmission, brakes, water pump, belts and numerous other bits repaired or replaced over the years. It’s a perfect photography vehicle though. With 4×4 drive train, good clearance, decent fuel economy, great turning radiance. But half of those 135,000 miles have been on rough dirt forest roads and snow, so things are going to break. We’ve resigned ourselves to keeping it though. We bought it new, and it has long since been paid for. A few repairs over the years have been cheaper than buying a new vehicle, so every couple of years I put it in the shop for a minor overhaul. This year was overhaul year.

My repair shop does quality work. So good in fact that I usually expect them get the vehicle back to me fairly quick and most of the time they are faster than they promise. But, sometimes, things aren’t as simple as anticipated. All those sensors and electronics have a tendency to keep secrets. The Explorer has been in the shop this past week fixing a check engine light, a broken fuel gauge and some kind of chattering in the heat/ac duct that sounds like someone playing the bongo drums. “We’ll have it done by the end of the day” I was told when I dropped it off.

It’s Thanksgiving week, the shop is swamped with work and I’m just happy I can get the SUV back from being repaired before the holiday. I go home and spend the day waiting for the phone call. That call comes late in the day, about 40 minutes until the shop closes. “We ordered a new evaporative purge valve, and they sent us the wrong version, so it won’t be ready today” they explain. “We’ll have it done tomorrow, sorry for the delay” They add.

A minor disappointment. Spend the day waiting in anticipation. Not the end of the world, I have a perfectly good second car, so I can do what I need anytime. but it messed up our dinner schedule as we were holding off eating until we heard back from the shop. My, my, my, one doesn’t want their eating schedule interrupted. The next day, Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I’m a little more apprehensive about the situation. I wake up figuring I’ll have the vehicle back by noonish, assuming they haven’t come across some major hidden problem. The wait continued. Anticipation rises along with my anxiety as I ponder the possibility that it’s going to cost me a lot of money.

As the day drags on, my mental state is deteriorating. Noonish comes and goes, no phone call from the shop. By late afternoon, my wife is contemplating when to start dinner, we don’t relish the thought of having food cooking and getting a call right before closing time and then have to drop everything to go get the SUV. Trudy tells me to call the shop and see what’s going on. I hate bugging the repair shop when they are working on the car. It takes me back to when I was younger, working in a high stress newspaper production environment and trying to repair some major problem under a deadline. The national poobaa’s would always hound me on the phone wanting an update on when things are going to be fixed, constantly causing me to drop what I’m doing to repair a problem and slowing down the repair. It always seemed counterproductive, and I just don’t want to distract the tech working on the car, particularly the afternoon before a holiday when they are probably crushed to get things done. I relented an hour before the shop closed. I called them. “Hey bud, is the Explorer going to be done today? The wife is trying to plan dinner and we’re waiting to hear back.” I explain. “Well, the tech has it out for a test drive right now, should be ready before we close.” He explains. It’s 5 pm, the shop closes in an hour. Now the shop is only about 2 miles away from the house, we can get there and back in 10-15 minutes, but if they don’t call me back by 5:40, I’ve resigned to just wait and pick it up on Friday after Thanksgiving.

We watch the clock, 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes click by. It’s now 5:30, the wife is getting antsy and starts dinner. I proclaim that if they haven’t called me by 5:40, we’ll just pick it up in two days. 5:40 on the button, I walk into the kitchen and tell the wife, “They’ve missed the deadline, we’ll wait until Friday.” As I’m saying that the phone rings, it’s the shop. “Your Explorer is good to go, we close in 20 minutes” Whoopie! Just in the nick of time. We drop everything and Trudy drives me to the shop and drops me off, then quickly zips back home to finish dinner. Life is good.

I walk to the counter in the shop, the two guys working the counter looked pretty ragged out. It’s been a tough day for them, my car is the last thing on their agenda, and they too are ready to close up, go home and enjoy Thanksgiving with their families. At least I didn’t keep them waiting. I ask the service manager “how much do I owe you?” and he tells me “No charge. We should have caught this problem when we replaced your fuel pump so it’s under warranty.” Wow! I’m thinking, that’s $400 I don’t have to dish out. I express my gratitude and adulation, take the keys from him and head home to a hot cooked meal.

The Explorer is now 100% problem free. I took it out to the car wash on Friday morning, cleaned it up, vacuumed out two years of dirt and gravel, dumped a half dozen McDonalds bags, cleaned the windshield and then ran by the gas station to fill it up. It now looks and drives like a brand-new vehicle. I can go anywhere I want at any time. No stress, no anxiety. No waiting for Da Go.

It’s been sitting there since, undriven. Turns out, it wasn’t really all that important that I have it back before they closed, as I wasn’t really planning on using it until Sunday at the soonest.

I’m such a twidge sometimes. Life is a struggle of staying patient.

I just don’t like waiting for “Da Go.” Samuel Beckett is probably laughing in his grave.