Along the Fraser: Riding along with my angel

More than once, my angel knew something was wrong with my car.

Along the Fraser Jack Emberly

“When you focus on the journey, you will be blessed with guardian angels … ” – Lailah Gifty Akita.

 

We had a craving for spicy squid and hot and sour soup.

“Phone number?”

He knows me by four digits of my phone number.

“ … 6743,” I said.

“Twenty minute,” he said.

Tonight my guardian angel knew we wouldn’t get there on time.

He’s stepped in before. Once, a tree that used to be on the shoreline suddenly appeared in the middle of the Kettle River near Rock Creek. I hit it sideways and was thrown – dazed – into the current. My angel’s voice brought me to my senses, and I scrambled ashore, shivering.

My angel – or my wife’s – saved us on the Chehalis River. We were with two paddling instructors when our boat hit a tree branch and flipped. I can’t explain how my hand found hers under the dark water, and planted it safely on the gunnel of the other canoe. It was my wife’s angel. I bounced down river, under another sweeper, and over some rocks before crawling – with hypothermia looming – onto the bank.

After a hot shower and pots of tea, my teeth stopped chattering. Thank you, devine friend, for both of us.

More than once, my angel knew something was wrong with my car. For example, we’d planned to drive to Los Angeles to introduce our new son to my wife’s aunt, but just before leaving, everything quit on our Olds Cutlass – the starter, air conditioner, brakes. The car would have failed on a freeway, but it got us to L.A. without a hiccup. Thanks, angel.

And thanks for last week. Janis was scheduled to take her mom on a little holiday in the U.S. I had her Nissan Quest serviced – oil changed, tire pressure. An angel knew it wasn’t enough.

We found out just before the intersection of Harris Road and the Lougheed Hwy. on the way to pick up the Chinese food. Without warning, the van hesitated. My speed dropped to nothing. No power steering. Cars whizzed by, honking. I coasted into the left turn lane with just enough brakes to stop, put the flashers on. I phoned BCAA.

“Busy traffic, heavy rain, dark. Need a tow ASAP.”

I called the RCMP next.

“Afraid someone will plow into me before the tow arrives,” I said. “Your flashing lights behind me would help.”

“Don’t worry,” the cop said. “We’ll look after you.”

While we waited, the woman who pulled behind me tapped on my window.

“Are you having problems with your car?”

“It’s not safe out there,” I said.  “If you pull around me, be careful.”

Then, my phone rang.

“ … 6734? Order ready. You come.”

“ Sorry,” I said. “Can’t. Had an accident.”

“You come,” he insisted. “Twenty minute already.”

Divine friend, thank you for the RCMP officer who tucked behind us with his lights flashing. Thanks for knowing modern vehicles are over, computerized and a camshaft position sensor – all modern vehicles rely on them – can fail without warning. My mechanic says these tiny electronic gadgets have controlled fuel injection in all late model cars since the 1990s. Online testimonials explain what it’s like to suddenly lose power brakes and steering when they quit.

Thank you, angel, for making it possible for my wife and her mom to avoid that on the I-5 at 100 km/h.

Thanks, too, for the friendly Maple Ridge tow truck driver who dropped us off at our door.

“I’m still hungry,” I said, 90 minutes after we were supposed to pick up the Chinese food.

But Parker, my trusty old Buick, was there to help out. I called the restaurant.

“It’s … 6743,” I said. “Is my order still there?”

“Order ready,” he said. “I keep warm.”

“Okay,” I said. “Twenty minute.”

 

 

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.

 

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