Come for the Yard Sale; Stay All Night

Posted on April 25, 2021


In the Disney story, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the kids have a magic bed, and now, I do, too. Their bed took them on adventures…Mine did, too!

The sun was shining brightly as I prepared for a little road trip to pick up a day bed from my friend’s moving sale. My dog, Bernie, danced around me whining as I got ready to go, but I knew I was going to be on “big roads,” expressways, in a busy metropolitan area, and I thought, “If I die out there, I don’t want you to have to die, too,” so I left him at home.

I wasn’t really worried about dying, but I drive a 2005 Toyota van, so something could happen. I’ve never broken down on the road in this vehicle, but I would hate to be worried about my dog’s safety if I did. So I left him home. Smart move.

I had a lovely drive. Traffic was light; the sun was shining; Phonella (the GPS in my phone) was telling me where to go, and I was enjoying the very rare treat of a road trip, however small, because you take what you can get during a global pandemic, right?

I’ve had both vaccinations, and I had my mask. I was ready for adventure!

I had exited the expressways, and the traffic volume in town was MUCH higher than it had been. It was very hectic. I haven’t lived in a highly populated area for over 20 years, so I always feel nervous when I’m in unfamiliar territory with lots of traffic, but I was within minutes of my destination, so I was also getting excited to see Lorena, my friend, and pick up my new day bed.

I’ve been looking for a day bed to put in the breezeway since the weather was getting warmer. I hadn’t been able to find what I wanted for a price I could pay, so I assembled my camping bed: wrestling mats layered on top of an open bi-fold door, on top of milk crates–so that I could sleep there in the meantime.

Lorena and I met at an Eastern Michigan Writing Project retreat several years ago, and we’ve been Facebook friends ever since. I’ve always thought of her as a friend, but in real life, we really hardly knew each other. That would soon change.

As I drove by a golf course, what looked like smoke started pouring out from under the hood of the car. “Oh, shit!” I thought, pulled onto the roadside, and turned my car off.

I couldn’t remember if I was up to date on my AAA membership; since the pandemic started, I wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought about letting it lapse, but I didn’t know if my last update had run out. My voice shook as I called Lorena; I was nervous about my safety in a really busy area. There was so much traffic, I had to stay in the vehicle to be able to hear her. I quickly told her the problem, and her kind and capable husband, Jeff, was dispatched to my aid.

In the meantime, I called my my trusted mechanic back home, at Hadden Tire, for advice. Pat told me to look underneath the engine for leaks, and I did see what looked like water dripping down. He said it was probably coolant, that I may have a radiator leak. I seemed to remember that there had been a small leak some years ago, and Stops Leaks had been used. Now, apparently, it was used up! I also told Pat that I had noticed that it seemed like the engine fan had run more or louder the last time I drove it, so I was already planning to bring it in to him. He said that would be from a thermostat or radiator problem.

By the time Jeff arrived, I had sat too long with the hazard lights flashing, and my battery died! By this point, I was getting pretty frazzled, but Jeff took a look, agreed about the radiator, gave me a jump start, then I followed him home in a cloud of steam.

Jeff and Lorena suggested that I take the car to their mechanic at Muffler Man, so they filled my radiator back up with water, and I followed him to the shop. By then, it was Friday afternoon, and it was most likely that the job would not be done until Saturday.

Lorena offered to drive me home when the sale closed for the day, but I couldn’t find a ride back, so I had to ask her to host me overnight.

Lorena didn’t hesitate. She told me she knew how awkward I must feel (for sure!)–and that she felt JUST as awkward, because their house is basically empty, and she couldn’t be the host she would normally be. The house has been sold; they’ve been living up north for a year, and the few pieces of furniture that remained were moving sale items. BUT she and Jeff, their daughter, Jessie, and their neighbor, Kristen, were all so kind. They helped me calm down, and after I arranged for my son to go to my house and collect my dog until I could come home, I relaxed into the situation. We would make the best of it.

When business was slow, we talked and got to know about each other’s life stories, and when customers came, we all tried to get an offer and make a sale.

By late Friday afternoon, I received the estimate for repairs, at about $850. It seemed high, and I expected a higher cost in a bigger city, but that seemed like just too much. I called Hadden tire for advice again, and Steve checked all the prices for parts and labor, and said it wasn’t much different from what he’d charge.

At that price, we decided to call this trip a vacation!

After a lovely dinner of carry-out Mediterranean food, we sat in the living room and talked: Jeff in a lawn chair, Lorena on the floor, and me on a foam flip chair. At some point, Lorena made tea, and we ate baklava, which was delicious. When we had talked ourselves tired, Lorena pulled the day bed mattress into the living room, handed me some blankets, and I laid down for my first night’s sleep on my new bed. It wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined it, but I was glad to be in the home of such kind people, and, in spite of the car problem, I was having fun! I slept well and woke feeling rested.

Saturday was a good time at the moving sale. I enjoyed meeting folks who came and hearing their stories. After living in the home for 27 years, Jeff and Lorena knew a lot of the neighbors, and some “kids” from the neighborhood stopped by with their own children to shop and visit. A couple of Jeff’s old coworkers from USPS came by, and a happy reunion was shared, and a woman who had rode the same horses as Lorena when they were kids came to shop at her sister’s insistence.

Muffler Man was not finished with repairs by 1 or 1:30, as Jeff and I had guessed, and around 3, Lorena decided to call and check. The clerk announced, “They’re test driving it now.”

Woohoo! What a relief!

When I went in the shop to pay the bill, I had to tell the clerk, “I came to town to pick up an item at someone’s yard sale, but my car broke down, and I had to spend the night at their house!”

Her eyes widened considerably. Then I softened it by adding, “We did meet before, briefly, at a teacher retreat. She’s right out there, waiting for me.”

The clerk was suitably wowed.

I thanked her for their help in my time of need and paid for my “vacation.”

The van started without hesitation, and the engine sounded great as I followed Lorena back home.

When we got there, I didn’t shut off the vehicle. (I plan to get a new battery at Hadden Tire.) By then, the new homeowner, Jeff, had arrived, and the two Jeffs helped load the day bed into the van.

Then Lorena handed her Jeff the phone, and we posed for a picture, “Mission accomplished!”

As I headed to my son’s house to pick up my dog, I was kind of sad to leave my new friends, and very grateful for their kindness, compassion, and generosity. I hope to return the favor by hosting them, just for fun, in the future, and I definitely want to visit them up north, and meet Lorena’s horse friend, Tesoro, too.

Thank you, Lorena, Jeff, and all who turned my misfortune into a vacation. BIG LOVE to you all.

Happy Sunday, friends. Be well. Thanks for reading.

May be an image of 2 people, including Lorena Burke

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy
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I don’t have the hardware on yet, but I’m ready to ride!