Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Road Trip - Part 2

A Wave of Compassion

Long story short... on the way back from Michigan our longtime friend and minivan had a breakdown and decided to end its life in East Dundee, Illinois.

In one aspect, we were lucky. We had just exited the tollway to get gas and a bite to eat and had given the keys to our newly-christened 16 year-old driver so he could take over and get some more interstate driving experience. However, before he ever got the chance to hit the highway, the power steering went out and we had him pull into the Walmart parking lot so I could check it out.

We can only thank God that this didn't happen while he was driving 70 mph in Chicago area traffic. (thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!)

Anyway, bottom line - blown head gasket. Bottom line of the estimate? Too much. Especially for a 1995 with 150,000 miles on it.


Now we were in a pickle. Here we were 450 miles from home and no way to get there.

Rental cars for a one-way trip were running $600 because of the "drop" fees. Plus, we would have had to hire a taxi to first take us back to O'Hare. Fortunately, this exit was right smack in the middle of a new and used car mecca. But here's where the "wave of compassion" kicked in.

When I first went into the Walmart I asked Mary, the customer service manager, if she knew of any local mechanics who could look at my car. Not only did she offer her sympathy for our situation but she also recommended an excellent shop just a few blocks away. Then she called 411, dialed the number and handed me the phone. I know it's too bad that I have to be surprised by this random act of kindness and good service, but unfortunately it's all too true these days. Fortunately, this wonderful woman was the start of more good will to follow.

The shop she recommended, Casey Automotive in East Dundee, was unbelievably helpful and compassionate toward us and our problem. More on them in a minute.

Next, the car dealer we ended up buying our new/used car from (Al Piemonte Chevrolet) couldn't have been any nicer. Or generous. After hearing our predicament, John, the manager, essentially cut the price of his least expensive used car in half to the point we could afford - so we had a safe and reliable car to get home with. We were going to simply sell it when we got back home but because it's such a nice car we're actually going to keep it long term and use it as our boys' first vehicle.

2002 Ford Taurus

Now back to Casey Automotive. Not only did the owner Jim spend close to an hour checking out our disabled van, but he also gave this new car a full inspection as well as a diagnostic computer scan (which alone carried a price tag of $79.99) before he gave it the thumbs up and told us the dealer was giving us a killer deal. The price he charged us for everything? Only $29.95.

So that's what I mean by a "wave of compassion." Three separate people independently showing concern for our situation and going above and beyond their call of duty to help out complete strangers just passing through and trying to get home. I don't know if this is specific to East Dundee or if we were just fortunate that day. Either way, we were very pleased and grateful for how it all turned out.

The only disappointment we had about this whole potentially disastrous experience was the fact that before the van broke down - we had just filled up the tank.

Now that hurts.


Anonymous said...

And that is why my wife refuses to fill up the tank on her car... if she does it will die. I'm not going to share your dangerous story with her as it would be perfect ammunition.

Glad things worked out. But now you've GOT to pay your good fortune forward. Buy somebody's lunch someday. Trust me - the karma gods will approve.

Mooselet said...

Too bad you couldn't have gotten a length of garden hose for a bit of a siphon going to transfer some gas from the old one to the new one.

But that generosity is pretty overwhelming. Someone was looking out for you that day. I agree with LA Daddy. Next time you're passing through a toll booth, pay the toll for the guy behind you.

Heather said...

I'm not sure whether to say I'm sorry or say how lucky you are. Glad things worked out fairly well for you.

Whit said...

pay it forward was the first thing to my mind, but I see it's been voiced already

when I was in college my friends and I were trapped 3 hours from home with a broken car on a very snowy Christmas Eve, this guy opened his shop and his wife made us cookies, we made it home only 5 hours off schedule

I should probably pay that forward.

Jen said...

That's a real mixed blessing kind of day. It's great that those people each gave you so much!

wayabetty said...

Well you know good things DO happen to good people. So go on Jeff, and pass on those good deeds to other people.

You mean you didn't pull the McGyver and used a hose to suck out the gas of the old car for the new one?!

Anonymous said...

I like so many people passing on good works. I have always tried to buy whenever I see someone trying to put back groceries they cannot pay for. Thank you great people for what you do.

robkroese said...

I have never gotten out of a repair shop for $29.95. Last time I just went in to use the bathroom and it cost me $79.95.

Mom Thumb said...

Now that's a good car-ma story. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Don't you love living in a country where the majority of people are just looking for ways to do nice things for other people? We see it time and time again, mostly in tragedies but sometimes in something as simple as a a family stranded in an unfamiliar town.

Bout time you guys were on the receiving end.

Anonymous said...

what a great story! random acts of kindness are so under reported and/or practiced, it tickles me to know you were the recipient of so many in one potentially devastating day! and a "1st" car for your boy at a bargain price? bonus!

(my dad's been a car salesman for over 60 years, and seems to be among the last of a dying breed: the honest dealer. so nice to know you encountered another on your journey) : )

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna need you to send some of your good luck my way. Walking under ladders to try and use reverse psychology on my luck has not worked for me

Gale said...

Nice car. My faith in humanity is restored. Now I really think with all of your luck you should go and buy a lottery ticket and remember who told you to do that if you hit it big. ummm pay it forward so to speak. or back.

Dan said...

I was reading this post waiting for the "and then I woke up" closer. But it never came.

Are you sure you still aren't asleep? :)

yoo hoo said...

I'm gonna remember them in East Dundee, Illionis, the next time I need work on my car. thanks for the tip!