A ride to remember
By Susan Manzke
You’d think that spring weather would make Bob happy. Oh he is relieved winter is over, but spring brings other problems. Ever since the snow melted and revealed all the stones thrown up on the grass by the snowplow my husband has been fussing about the rocky mess. As early as possible, he started raking, only to earn himself blisters on both his hands.
Since the stones are on the lawn and up and down the length of the ditch Bob mows, he started thinking about a mechanical solution to the problem. Last week, Bob decided to call on an ad in the paper for a used hydraulic rotary broom. With this machine he could battle the stone problem without working his hands raw.
Of course Bob hadn’t called immediately when he saw the ad. He put it off and now he was sure it had been sold, but happily, the broom was still available. Since it was a nice day, I decided to join Bob for the drive down to West Bend to check it out.
As we rolled south in Bob’s truck, we observed geese and ducks flying in the sunny sky and turkeys strutting across fields. We left home at three thirty, figuring to return about dark.
Traffic on Highway 41 moved right along, which was nice. As we neared our exit, I phoned the seller, Rich, to tell him that we would arrive in about fifteen minutes. Bob guided our truck onto the exit ramp. Suddenly foul words came out of his mouth. “The brakes went out!” he said as he downshifted and stomped on the resistant pedal.
I gulped and hung on as we headed toward a stopped vehicle ahead of us. Luckily, the car turned onto the crossroad and Bob managed to get the truck slowed enough to make the same turn.
It was five o’clock in the evening and we were heading into West Bend’s rush hour, but Bob continued to drive.
“Shouldn’t we stop and check the brake fluid?” I asked.
“It’s not the fluid,” grumbled Bob. “If it was the fluid, my foot would be on the floor. I have some brake, but it’s real tough to push.” He downshifted again as we neared a stoplight.
I was not happy about the situation. Actually, I wanted to get out of the truck and walk, but I was trapped.
Rich’s directions took us only a short way into the busy city before we turned and headed south. It seemed like we had to dive a long way to our destination, but in fact it was just outside the city limits.
Bob emitted a few addition curse words as he attempted to turn into Rich’s driveway. “The power steering’s out, too,” he said as he muscled the steering wheel around.
When we rolled to a stop, I wanted to get out and kiss the ground, but didn’t. There was too much to do.
Rich was sitting in his car waiting for us when we arrived. “You got something hanging down under your truck,” he told Bob.
Bob explained our troubles as he got out and opened the hood. There we all saw the problem. All the belts had broken.
“It looks like the air-conditioner belt broke and when it flew off it took out all the other belts,” said Bob. “Darn thing is that air-conditioner never did work.”
Rich took out his cell phone and called an auto parts store. “They close in twenty minutes,” he said when he finished his call. “We can take my car.”
He and Bob grabbed the remnants of the belts and took off for the store. I stayed behind, still trying to calm my thumping heart. As I waited, I pulled down the tailgate, sat and tried to relax.
By the time they returned, I felt better. Of course, Bob and Rich were ready to go to work replacing the belts.
My husband only had a few tools with him in the truck: a crescent wrench and a pair of pliers. No matter that we weren’t prepared for this repair, Rich was. He unlocked his shop and brought out an assortment of wrenches. If this had happened anywhere else, I would have had to climb up into the big truck engine and helped Bob. For this repair Bob had the benefit of Rich’s help.
“I guess we couldn’t have picked a better place to break down,” said Bob. “The weather’s good and we got to the parts store before they closed. Things seem to be going my way.” (At least that was his point of view.)
It took an hour to fix the truck and another half-hour to load the rotary broom but we didn’t take off immediately. We continued talking to Rich for another half-hour or so.
Luckily, the ride home was uneventful, yet every time Bob went to brake, he first downshifted, then cautiously applied his foot to the pedal. All I could do at this time was hang on and pray.