Friday, July 15, 2011

Strange Day In The Neighborhood

     The morning had been delightful.  Harris and Keaton were gone to Pella; Heath and Kelsey had already left for work; Haley and her friend Ashlyn were quietly sleeping in the basement.  The serenity of the morning was the perfect scenario for me to leisurely enjoy a little iced coffee and some Jesus time in our screened-in porch.  There are always a myriad of things to pray about, and one of the more "trivial" ones on my mind was my computer.  I woke up to some issues Monday morning already, so this was my one final chance to pray over the thing again before taking it to my favorite computer technician who lives just down the street.  He called while I was still in my pajamas, saying that he was ready to take a look at it, so my clothes were quickly changed, the computer was unplugged, and once again, I found myself carrying a computer to Chuck's house.  (I've done this a few too many times and always feel like kind of a dork but am always so thankful God gave me this connection.)  His wife and another neighbor lady were just pulling out and going for their Friday morning coffee date, so we chatted a bit in the street. 

     I came home, logged into Facebook on Harris's laptop, and proceeded to have a wonderful chat with a friend who had seen my frustrated gardening status and was offering us some veggies.  Soon enough Chuck was calling to tell me that he had my computer fixed, so the retrieval was made, and I came home just feeling so grateful for the answered prayers.  All my data and pictures were still intact!  It wasn't till later, though, that I discovered that there is still an annoying fix that I have to manually make to each and every single picture on my computer, but at least they are there.  Backups had been made to an external hard drive, but even those had been affected.  The whole thing was just rather bittersweet. 

     My mind was forced to shift gears and start working on some brunch to be served before taking Haley's friend to the airport.  I called downstairs to make sure they were up and told Haley that muffins were in the oven and sausages patties were being cooked.  They each hopped in a shower, and I went back to cutting up strawberries.  All of a sudden, our doorbell was ringing off the wall, and my initial thought was that one of our kids' friends must be at the door feeling a little crazy for a Friday morning because I'd never heard our doorbell ring quite like that before.  I walked through the living room and glanced out the window and was shocked to discover a fire underneath our pickup!  Our neighbor Bill was obviously just trying to get someone's attention, and he was frantically grabbing our hose and turning the  faucet on.  He stood in our front yard and battled the flame that was underneath the front of the truck near the tire and told me that his wife was calling 911.  All I could think about was how on earth something like that would start and wondered if someone had thrown something under the truck to cause a fire.  Heath's car was parked in the street right in front of the truck, so I tried to call him, but he didn't answer his phone initially.  I was pretty sure he had the keys with him at work, but I came inside to do a quick search for them, turned my stove off so our house wouldn't catch on fire as well, and hollered for Haley, but she was still in the shower and didn't hear me. 

     Before I knew it, Bill's wife was hollering from their yard and telling him to get away from the truck because the fire was under the hood, and at that point we both just backed away and watched the fire get more and more out of control, taking over the front of the truck.  Very, very scary.  Haley and Ashlyn came outside about the same time the police and the firetruck arrived on the scene.  By the time the truck was doused pretty good, the whole hood had melted right on through and onto the street.  Somewhere in there, Heath had returned my call and told me he'd come right home so he could get his car moved out of the way, but the fire had been extinguished by the time he got here.  Thankfully his car was not damaged at all, but if the firetruck had gotten here two minutes later, I'm convinced that the fire would have ravaged the whole pickup and it would have exploded.  We definitely had the attention of the neighborhood at 11:30 in the morning!

     The fireman gathered lots of details from Haley and me and told us that he was pretty sure it was an electrical short of some kind under the hood.  The last time it had been driven was the previous night, and no, no one had been smoking in it or around it.  He showed us where the fire had started and told us that we would need to get it towed away within a timely fashion because it's considered an eyesore on the street.  The kids both talked to Harris on the phone before I had a chance, but there was little he could do from where he was anyway.  The neighbor ladies came back from their coffee date and told me that the exact same thing had happened in that spot to one of the previous owners' vehicles before we moved here, so that's a little crazy to think about. 

     Until further observation by someone else, we accepted the fireman's explanation of a short under the hood, but Bill came back late afternoon with an internet printout detailing a cruise control recall that was declared on a few Ford vehicles back in 2008.  That was before we had the truck, so we obviously would not have known that it was something that needed to be corrected.  From what I read, it makes sense to me, though, that that could be the cause.  I thought the first part of the week had lots of random occurrences, but this one definitely topped the list!

     By the time the whole thing was said and done, all we could do was choose to look at the blessings.  Haley and Ashlyn could have driven that pickup to Coralville on Thursday to meet up with Beth from Pella, but we had opted to send them in a different vehicle because of the poor gas mileage it would get.  This is the second close call Haley has had with a vehicle in the last couple of months, so we're very thankful for God's protection over her!  The truck could have been in the garage or in the driveway and caught the house on fire, but it wasn't.  It could have exploded while we were out there watching it burn, but that didn't happen either.  It could have been setting anywhere else and exploded and caused serious damage or injuries to others, but we were spared from that nightmare as well.  And besides all that, God definitely gave us opportunities to talk with all our neighbors! 

     I was just thankful that I was home at the time and that our neighbors were proactive when they sensed the problem.  It's an old truck with over 200,000 miles, but it was a good, functional truck that rarely gave us any problems.  It's a disappointment and a loss for sure, especially since we only had liability insurance on it.  Haley was rather depressed because it meant the loss of her beloved "Hank, Jr.," that she had been driving for the last year.  It was always available for hauling things for us or others; it was our truck we used to pull our camper; it was just a good ole truck to have around for the kids to drive or for Harris to use for all those things that guys need trucks for.  It's a sad day, and we have no idea why this had to happen, but finally all you can do is smile, move on, and be very, very thankful for God's protection over all of our lives.  It could have been much, much worse.  It could have had all of us in it next weekend on our way to our big family campout.

     We made it to the airport on time, said a little prayer together, and sent Ashlyn on her way back to North Carolina.  It was definitely not the perfect ending I thought we'd have to the wonderful week we had together, but she was very gracious and kind.  Her family came home after church to a house fire one time, and they were out of it for a year, so our little dilemma pales in comparison to what they experienced. 

     Our minds were rather consumed with the whole situation the rest of our day, and we found ourselves having conversations with a few more of our neighbors, which was unusual because oftentimes everyone is just so busy and wrapped up in their own little world.  Not today though.  Today was a day of reaching out, and there was a little more camaraderie than usual.  I liked that.  I liked that part a lot.  It's just too bad we had to lose our pickup in the process. 

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