Bryn drives this 1995 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. It’s a sort of plum-lavender color not otherwise found on America’s highways (thankfully), with a white ragtop and a white leather interior. For reasons often explained but still understood only by Bryn, she calls this aging wonder Ernesto. Her brothers, for their part, have christened it Yzma because of its resemblance to the wrinkled, purple-hued, Disney character often described as “scary beyond all reason”—a much more fitting moniker if you ask me.
Yzma—er, Ernesto—has spent the last year or so mostly getting in my way and dripping oil onto the floor of my garage while Bryn has been living in New York. So you can imagine how delighted I have felt knowing that in just a couple of days Bryn and I will be driving the car and a backseat full of Bryn’s earthly possessions to Utah where she will begin her first semester at BYU.
At least that is the plan. Did I mention that Ernesto is almost 20 years old? And that there are over 600 miles of desert between here and Provo, Utah? And that it’s a Chrysler?
Thus the mixed emotions with which I have anticipated the drive: delighted that Bryn gets to experience the fun and challenge of university life, thrilled to reclaim the open space in my garage, and trepidatious over whether the LeBaron will make it past Victorville.
Which is to say that yesterday’s phone call from Bryn didn’t exactly come as a surprise. “Um, dad?,” she started, trying to sound cheerful. “So my car won’t start.” She was stranded somewhere in Anaheim. I’ll spare you the play-by-play from this point forward, but as you might guess it begins with busted jumper cables and ends three or four hours later with a repair shop calling about a new fuel-something-or-other and $600. (I definitely remember the $600 part.)
Now I’ll admit that my first thought as this ordeal began to play out was not, Thank God. Rather, I immediately started worrying about the logistics of transporting her to school and getting her from place to place while she’s there. I began wondering about potential disposal fees and replacement costs and probably several more months of oil stains on my driveway. And I thought a lot about all of the things I should have been doing rather than standing around a parking lot waiting for the guy from AAA to show up.
No, Thank God was not my first thought, nor my second or third or even my seventeenth. But somewhere around seventeenth I finally got to Thank God and in a big way. What if, it occurred to me, that fuelamajig had gone out somewhere between Vegas and Mesquite? What if Ernesto decided to give up the ghost a week after I had left him and Bryn there in Provo—or worse, when Bryn and a couple of friends were in the middle of a weekend adventure trip on some side road north of Indianola? What if? “Scary beyond all reason” does not even begin to capture it.
Thank God, indeed. The timing and location of Bryn’s breakdown probably could not have been better. Do I think God had a hand in that timing? Well, I do not know if He bothers himself with 19-year-old LeBarons, but I do know that He cares a whole lot about His 19-year-old daughters. And I know this also: You can never—never—give God too much credit for the good things that happen in life.
So let’s try this one more time: Bryn’s car broke down yesterday—Thank God.