Resilience and Minivans

This morning Ting had an early meeting in Easter Market, so Bjorn and I planned to meet up with her there this afternoon for grocery shopping. Tuesday is local day at the market which makes it a great time to pick up some yummy Michigan veggies. Grocery shopping is also one of the only activities that gets the three of us Internet based un/self-employed people out of our apartment. (To be clear, they're the self, I'm the un, at least until 5pm today.)

It's a rare opportunity, so we like to make an event out of it.

So anyway, that's what had Bjorn and I roll into our parking garage today around noon. ย We headed out,ย warm curry tucked under arm. (Ting had been in an unheated converted shipping container all morning and was getting pretty cold and hungry.)

Bjorn shuffles up to the Buick and slides the key into his driver door - twist, pull, open, reach around for the auto-unlock button.

He hits the button, and we are met by a very loud silence.

No click.

No satisfying "thuh-wop" of electric unlocking.

Just the useless softness of an impotent little plastic button.

We look up at each other, and there is only one word.




We both knew instantly - have you guessed?

Yep, exactly.

Dead battery.

A few trillion electrons went for a walk and left us stranded.

Dead battery, dead car.

Two tons of useless steel, curry on the front seat getting cold.

And, of course, we're on the third floor of an enclosed parking garage - not the kind of place where you get a lot of altruistic drive-by traffic.

Bjorn called Ting for an update and I went out to flag someone down. A woman in a green car pulled up onto the floor. She didn't have cables, but she recommended we try the workshop in the corner. (Our parking garage has these small rooms on each floor that the apartment building rents out to craftsmen.)

Smart woman.

Knock on the door, toothy smile on my side, nice middle-aged man on his. Cables retrieve, mini van in gear, mini van moving, back hatch left open. Pull up, careful placing of clamps, car started up, electrocution avoided, BUICK BACK IN ACTION.

The whole business set us back maybe 15 minutes - a miracle.

Ting's curry was still warm on arrival.

It's funny, I don't think anyone is ever in the mood to jump someone's else's car.

That mood just doesn't exist. It's boring at best, and most likely a little annoying and inconvenient.

And yet.

In that moment - the knock on the door - I knew he would help us.

If you're the guy with the mini van and the cables, staring down the other guy with a dead car and no other options, can you really say 'no'?

Is that really even an option?

I spend a lot of time worrying about us Americans, worrying that we're drifting away from each other. Worried that we spend our days shuttling from home out to work and back home again. Kitchen to garage, to car, to parking lot, to office, back to car, back to attached garage, in through the kitchen and plopped on the couch. No sidewalks, no walking, no spontaneous meet ups, no conversations outside the drug store.

I worry that we don't know our neighbors, that we're growing further away - lonelier and weaker with each passing year.

And yet.

Community is resilient.

We're built to love each other, built to care, built to connect.

We rely on each other, we are connected by strong ties, just by virtue of being mutually human.

We still offer our cables, we still offer our mini van.