Sometimes it is the simplest problem that is hardest to fix. Usually this is the day of packing--when a steady stream of my kids with dufflebags, tackle boxes, armloads of books, soccerballs, late remembered krocs and sneakers and floppy hats file out of the house and onto our 35 year old converted school bus that will be our base-camp for the next two months; but instead, our living room has become the holding cell of our summer dreams, for the bus is drydocked at the truck repair shop in Bedford waiting to "pass inspection" before we can head up to Windsor Mountain in New Hampshire. And all because of two little lights on the back of the bus, but more because I waited until the last moment to get the ball rolling.
For many years the local Mack repair shop would do whatever work needed to be done on the bus that was beyond my skill set to fix. They are a good bunch of guys who know me and the bus well; however, the state has a new mandate that only certain repair shops can give an RV an inspection sticker. In our case there are only two shops anywhere close by that can do this work. Both of these places are huge truck dealers who seem to have little sympathy for one guy with one old truck (and believe me, our RV is classic truck--a 1978 solid steel Bluebird with a 3208 cat diesel). It was supposed to be done on Friday ( so I told the kids we'd just have to leave on Saturday) and then it was Saturday (so I told the kids that we'd just have to leave on Sunday) and now it is Monday, and I can only pray that there is no another bump in our metaphorical road to keep us off the highway heading north.
Every experience can--and should be--either a lesson, a celebration, or at the very least, a memory that lives on in some way shape or fashion. For me, as a writer (and an explorer of the literary sort) I hope to find some nugget of gold out of this setback that I can weave into a gaggle of words, which will serve as a story I can retell to others--and to myself-for many years to come. It is easy and handy for me to blame the repair shop, but the reality is that I had many months to prepare the bus for inspection; I had plenty of time to fix the tailights, and I actually know how to fix most anything on the bus--something which is usually a source of pride for an old shop teacher and tinkerer in the yankee tradition of a true New Englander, but instead, I am no different than my students that I criticise for putting off their assignments until the last possible moment. I can hear my own voice saying, "It is not as if I didn't give you enough time to finish your essay..." Some of my students reading this might be smiling and thinking: "Ha, serves you right." And it does.
There is a great scene in The Odyssey when Odyyeus and his ships are faced with a choice as they approach the "Straits of Skylla:" On on side of the strait is a six-headed monster that will devour them whole, and on the other side is a monstrous whirlpool that will suck his ships--and all if his crew--down to a watery grave. As is often the case in life, there is no turning back; the only way out is through, so Odysseus chooses the lesser evil and deals with the six-headed monster.
Though I am no Odysseus, I am still left with a choice. I will leave now and make my peace with the repair shop. It is my way through.
Maybe I will even bring them coffee and save my newly earned wisdom for another day.