On A Highway, An Unexpected Meeting

Five months since I last wrote. The last track event I documented was Indianapolis. Since then, I’ve driven at Roebling Road Raceway four times, Road Atlanta twice, VIR thrice, NCCAR once, and Mid Ohio for three events logging 30 additional days on track.

AND I’ve attended three club races: twice with Swami Mike (48 Hrs of Sebring and RennderMeister MidOhio), once with Tex and Vader (SAARC with SCCA).

AND I’ve instructed two students, gaining certification as an instructor with two driving clubs.

Driving is progressing slowly but surely. I continue to experience small triumphs and large blows: “You have no business being at Chin.” In the meantime, my neglected blog sat, gasping for air, its agonal respirations uncomfortably rasping against my conscience.

Then, out of the blue, came a day flush with abnormally large quantities of vexation, perspiration, and foul language.  Still: Your heroine struck gold! Inspiration to write again!A young gentleman named Roman. Former law student, current truck driver.

I Realized Sunday night that I had been walking around for Lord knows how long with only one earring. It’s a known track hazard: earrings get pulled out by the balaclava or the helmet. I finally found a replacement pair on my way home. After I lost a diamond at Road Atlanta in the fall of 2015, I’ve switched to cubit zirconia. Can’t afford the risk. I’d rather buy tires.

I’d just wrapped up 5 days at MidOhio, bruised and torn after suffering scathing reviews from Swami and others at Chin. Driving back home for Lexington, OH had proved a nightmare. The Pig was in “limp-home” mode and couldn’t top 45 mph going up hills on the highway. Towing Moxie and the trailer was trying. There was no operational A/C, my turn signals didn’t work, and Piggy couldn’t start with out a jump.

All I knew was that I HAD to get out of “limp-home”. The whole week, Swami’s valiant Sir Truck had patiently jumped Piggy every morning. Moxie did so every evening. Vader provided text-support on the return journey: “Just pull over and disconnect the positive node on the battery. It’ll reset the computer codes.”

Easier said than done. The battery change operation on a Mercedes R Class is a 6 hour job. But, in desperation, I resolved to bite the bullet.

Pulling over on the highway welcome center at the NC State line, I accidentally entered the parking area for tractor-trailers. There was no going back to the ramp, so I parked the rig. The operator’s manual showed that the battery was located beneath the driver’s seat, and would require a 6mm hex wrench. It said the carpet had perforations, needing “extra force” to pull it up.I set to work. Guess what??  It was a 10mm hex, there were no perforations in the carpet. My tool kit contained several box cutters; all were flimsy plastic covering thin blades. The carpeting was over a centimeter thick and needed more than just “extra force.” Hacking through it was a slow and painful process. Finally, managing to pull back the front panel, I looked down to find my gloves shredded in three spots. Red sticky stuff emerged. Pulling off the gloves I found where the knife had jabbed my fingers. Both hands slowly began a burning throb, with the rear panel still left to go. This wasn’t gonna cut it. I looked around to ask someone for a good knife.

A unique young man, who was willing to loan me his tactical knife. He said I inspired him. But HE inspired me to return to this forgotten blog. Thanks Roman. 
A muscular young man wearing athletic attire walked toward me, heading for his truck. I stopped him. He had a military issue knife, and stood by patiently while I stabbed into the plush foam. We chatted. I gave him my card. We said goodbye. After he left, I uncovered the contents of the compartment: It was not a battery. Really. THERE WAS NO BATTERY BENEATH THE DRIVERS SEAT.

I was at my rope’s end. Was driving since 7 am, it was now close to 5:15pm. Guess what?

I ACTUALLY GAVE UP! Yes. I accepted my limping fate and pulled onto the freeway. It took me another 3 hours to get home. Big T and the babies noticed when I arrived, and hugged me. Of course, the puppies did too.

That night, I thought of Roman. What would his life be like? And, in parallel, where would my journey take me? I’d been told by more than one person: I’m a failure as a driver. A blinding fatigue ushered me into dreamlessness.

Two days later, I got this note:

Yes, it is me, Roman, the trucker who gave you my tactical knife (lol) to cut your battery out. I just wanted to share something with you. The moment I met you, I didn’t think much of it, but as soon as I left, I realized that you planted a remarkable seed in my mind; You’re a mother, a doctor, and a race car driver and you’re happy. Why can’t I be? You inspired me to follow my dream to pick up law, again (I dropped it because of expenses and stress), and get into racing my motorcycle. I will include a few pics. And thanks for the motivation, I will never forget it. Wishing you all the best!

Ashamed that I’d not prioritized writing, I replied with thanks. Guiltily, I realized that my writing did matter. Many months ago, Swami had said to me “Writing is serious work. It changes lives.” Although I knew that to be true,  I felt surely that couldn’t apply to my amateurish efforts. I’d brushed it aside. Roman hit the message home.

For you, for Roman, for my children, and for myself:  I hereby resurrect this blog.




10 thoughts on “On A Highway, An Unexpected Meeting

    1. It took me until Wednesday to catch up with my life and work before I could take another look.
      My eldest son helped me, and figured out that it is under the *front passenger seat*!
      Took one and three quarters of an hour to tear out the carpet from under the driver’s seat.
      On the passenger side, turns out, the carpet does have perforations. Took less than 20 minutes.


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