[Sticky] What's your story? Please share …
Trusting Fate (Part 2 of 2)
Can there be a state of mind more beguiling than anticipation as it teases by waving the subject of your desires in front of you while fully aware that the time has not yet come to seize the prize?
For me this test of patience would always occur during the Christmas holidays; watching the gifts slowly accumulate under the tree with hands bound by the long and slow passage of time until Christmas morning. And so it was as I restlessly awaited the arrival of my E-Type as it crawled on all fours from Hawaii to the Rhode Island. I passed the time by reading everything I could find on E-Types and gazed for hours at my favorite photos of Series I FHC examples; each passing day ratcheting up the intensity level of this tortuous wait. Like a symphony progressing through its movements, the ebb and flow of this arduous measure ultimately came to a crescendo with the call from the shipping company.
The car had completed its trans-Pacific, cross-country journey to the East Coast and was now awaiting pick-up on the dreary wharves of Jersey City, New Jersey; a destination that, admittedly, raised some concern on my part and certainly muddied the euphoria that I was experiencing after the call. It was that old, familiar feeling in the gut, that fate was once again pulling on the strings in its scheming and shrewd manner. Undaunted, my wife and I, in our trusted Saab 900, began the road-trip south to New Jersey; our spirits gliding high over the interstate.
The miles and hours passed quickly and after a number of missed turns and anxious moments in the belly of Jersey City, we found ourselves at the shipping company. The dark wharf certainly lived up to our expectations with its cacophony of unharmonious clamor echoing off the sooty walls of the adjacent, old warehouses. One would think that the E-Type would stand out and shine amidst this bleak setting, but instead the car sat with a forlorn stance, covered in dust and grime, in perfect camouflage with the drab, surrounding structures.
A quick inspection of the E-Type did not reveal any shipping issues and with a gentle push of the starter button, she roared to life as if eager to escape the gloomy grasp of the wharf. We stopped at a gas station around the corner to clean what we could, checked all the fluid levels and filled the tires with fresh air. After repeating the same missed turns and anxious moments from our incoming trip navigating through the city, my grip on the steering wheel relaxed as I guided the E-Type onto the entrance ramp of I-95 North with my wife following in the Saab.
The section of I-95 North from New York to Rhode Island, with the majority of miles occurring along the Connecticut coastline, was an incredibly peaceful and scenic drive. It was just what I needed to flush out all the anxiety, apprehension and stress that had accumulated within me during the hectic few hours on the wharves. I began to feel the much anticipated excitement and exhilaration of truly driving an E-Type, in stark contrast to the puttering around that I did on the test drive in Mililani. The motor was very responsive to the occasional jab of the throttle which quickly became habit-forming after seeing the bonnet lift up under hard acceleration. The steering seemed precise and the car tracked well. The captivating exhaust notes reverberated through my body.
It wasn’t long before that certain pride of ownership began to percolate though me, reflected by my body language. My driving posture relaxed; my left arm casually draped over the door through the open window. Periodic glances at the Water, Oil, Fuel, and Amp gauges revealed no issues; confidence built with each mile. Occasionally, someone would pass me on the left and offer a “thumbs-up” to which I would return a smug smile and nod.
Old age has taught me that life never occurs on a single plane. Instead, there are ups and downs, in a yin-yang fashion, with fate always there to ensure that good luck is balanced with misfortune. And so it was on that fateful day, somewhere along the Connecticut coastline on I-95, that fate decided I was having way too much fun and delivered an equilibrium adjustment.
The loud pop from the back of the car was immediately followed by a brutal “fish-tailing” of the rear end. Struggling to maintain control, I frantically tried to steer the car onto the right shoulder of the freeway. Fate, perhaps sensing its judgement was too harsh, conveniently placed an exit ramp immediately on the right. I coasted down the ramp; shaken, confused and disheartened.
Good fortune, all a matter now of perspective, had situated a gas station at the very bottom of the exit ramp. I was able to coax the E-Type into the parking lot and turned off the ignition. By now a small crowd of curious on-lookers and gas station employees had gathered around the car to silently and collectively acknowledge how lucky that they were not the poor fellow sitting behind the wheel. A gentleman stepped forward from the crowd and introduced himself as the owner of the station.
After hearing my description of the events and a brief inspection, he concluded that it must be a rear wheel bearing failure. He said he could repair the E Type once he obtained the parts. Whether it was his confident, sincere delivery of the proposal or that I, by this time, had lost all hope, is irrelevant. I simply threw myself into fate’s hands while placing the car key in the hands of the gas station owner.
My wife and I agreed that we needed some time to collect ourselves before continuing to Rhode Island so we decided to take a break at the roadside diner directly across the street from the gas station. As I awaited my coffee, I concluded that I was not ready for E-Type ownership and could not believe how foolish and naive I was to let things progress this far. What had I gotten myself into?
My coffee arrived and in the most dejected and despondent fashion, I reached over to the tray of sugar packets and pulled one out. In those days, it was common for sugar companies to print their company name and logo on one side of the packet and have some uninspiring line drawing of an animal or flower on the other side, annotated usually with the appropriate scientific name of the subject. I never found this practice to be either interesting or educational, and yet, I always flipped over the packet to see what I had randomly selected. Acting on sheer rote behavior, I turned the packet over with my mind a thousand miles way lost in despair. Time instantly paused, as my eyes and mind attempted to shake out from the tangles of depression and focus upon the ink drawing of a 1948 Jaguar XK120 DHC.
Clearly, fate had once again intervened and in the most profound and yet uncomplicated manner sought to reassure me that all will be well. I showed the packet to my wife and exclaimed, “Everything is going to be OK. We are going to sell the E-Type and get an XK120”. Just kidding
And things did work out well. A week later, we picked up the E-Type from the gas station and successfully completed the maiden-voyage to our Rhode Island home. Of course, the car would break-down a few more times through our course of ownership, but fate was always present to ensure that a proper balance is maintained between the highs and lows of life’s experiences.