Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head again this past weekend, at the worst possible time of course. Oops. I’m getting ahead of myself. I should tell you first how it all began.
On this past weekend, Mid-Michigan RWA held its annual Retreat From Harsh Reality, my hands down favorite weekend of spring. On Friday morning, my friend and fellow romance writer Margo Hoornstra and I rode to the Bay Pointe Inn in Shelbyville, Michigan, in Majel, my trusty Ford Edge. Majel had a full tank of gas and had very recently visited a car wash to spruce up for the trip. I entered the Bay Pointe Inn’s address in Majel’s navigation system, and she got us there without breaking down or getting us lost. Good girl, Majel. I can always count on you.
The uneventful ride was a very auspicious beginning to a much-anticipated weekend of writing, learning, sharing, and having a darn good time with other writers who don’t bat an eye at our shared insanity. Guest author Katherine Ashe presented two excellent workshops. One helped us to explore why each of us writes. The other touched on writing and marketing the high concept novel. Great stuff! Ashe even took a personal interest in helping me hone the high concept pitch for my work in progress. Even more great stuff!!
During lunch, Margo realized that our Board of Directors had overlooked buying a gift of appreciation for our retreat chair. Yikes! As president this year, Margo couldn’t allow our Retreat Chair to go giftless and feel unappreciated. We decided to shop for the gift during the scheduled block of free time in the afternoon.
From that point on, our karma began to go south.
Margo went to the front desk and got a map from the desk clerk of the local area with store locations. The clerk told her the Family Dollar store around the corner from the local McDonald’s was the closest, about nine miles away. It was marked on the map the clerk gave Margo.
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that we forgot the map in our room.
Unfortunately, we were already well on our way down the road when Margo realized we didn’t have the map with us. We remembered where the McDonald’s was—we bought lunch there—so we figured we could find the store without a map. We got to the McDonald’s intersection but didn’t see a dollar store of any kind from the intersection, so we kept on going. Just like the men we always chide, we didn’t stop to ask for directions. So embarrassing.
We didn’t remember the store’s name was Family Dollar. For some inexplicable reason we thought we were looking for a Dollar General store. Margo searched for the closest Dollar General on her iPhone and found one in the nearby town of Wayland.
Not so nearby, as it turned out. We followed endless twist and turn directions forever to Wayland and finally found the Dollar General.
It was about 4:45 p.m. when we took our treasures out to Majel and loaded them inside. We climbed in and fastened our seatbelts, ready to get back on the road to the retreat. I stepped on the brake and pressed the ignition button.
A curious and unexpected silence followed. Uh-Oh.
I tried it again. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
The readout on the dash chilled me to the bone. No key detected. Majel, please don’t fail me now.
I told myself there was no need to panic. This happened once before when the fob’s battery died and I knew exactly what to do. There is an alternative procedure to start the motor when the fob fails. I slid the fob into an aperture inside the center console. Confidently, I stepped on the brake and pushed the start button.
Again, a curious and unexpected silence followed. This isn’t funny, Majel.
I tried starting Majel again, and again, and again. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Don’t do this to me, Majel! Not here. Not now.
The chilling readout continued to reappear on the dash. No key detected.
Majel’s interior was unbearably hot from being parked out in the sun. We couldn’t lower the windows to let air in, and every time we opened the doors, the car alarm went off. Fortunately the alarm cancel button on the fob still worked. Whew!
I called MG, my go to car guy, who told me to do all the things I did already. Then he said the car would have to be towed. O joy. MG was out of town too and couldn’t come for me until morning. He said to leave my car in the parking lot and get a ride back to the inn.
It was then officially time to panic. Unbeknownst to Margo, she was to receive a special award on Saturday evening. Majel’s unwillingness to start put the presentation in jeopardy and my life in danger. If I couldn’t get Margo back to the retreat in time for her to be presented with the MMRWA Angel Award for Service, I was a dead woman. The girls in the chapter would undoubtedly kill me and probably torch Majel. I loathe Murphy’s Law.
While I was on the phone with MG, Margo had gone back into the Dollar General and asked if there was a Ford dealership in the area. She learned that the Ed Koehn dealership was less than a block away but that it closed at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. It was already 5:00 p.m. but she got the number and called anyway. Good thing she did. Someone was still there!
Margo handed me her phone and I spoke to a young man named Jonathan. I explained our situation to him. We were a little over ninety minutes from home. The Edge didn’t detect my key fob and wouldn’t start. We were stranded in a parking lot when we should be at a writer’s retreat in Shelbyville. Help?
Jonathan said he was the only one still at the dealership. He told me he wasn’t a mechanic but would try to help. He came to the parking lot and took the fob back to the dealership to put a new battery in it. When he returned with it, I tried starting Majel again.
I asked Jonathan if he would try. Maybe it would start for him. Men just seem to have a way with cars. It’s not fair, but there it is. Well, Majel didn’t start for him—not at first. Jonathan thought it might be a computer glitch. He pressed buttons on the fob in different sequences, and at last Majel started up! Her engine roared to life and her dash and touch screen lit up like Christmas lights. Yes!!!
Margo and I were overjoyed to say the least, and I was relieved to know that the girls in the chapter would probably let me live. We thanked Jonathan profusely and offered to pay him for his help but he refused. As luck would have it, he was a writer too, and he felt he had to help other writers in trouble. He did let each of us give him a big hug. He was our Knight in Shining Armor, no doubt. I asked for his card so I could write to his boss to let him know how helpful his special finance manager Jonathan Rodriguez was to us in our time of need.
On the drive back to the inn, Margo pondered over our misadventure and our salvation. It was fate, or maybe somebody up there was looking out for us. According to Margo, we were meant to forget to take the map with us. If we found the Family Dollar store to begin with, there would have been no dealership close by with someone to help us when the Edge failed to start. She was certain we were meant not to find the Family Dollar store in Shelbyville. We were meant to go all the way to the Dollar General in Wayland where there was a Ford Dealership a block away, where an employee who was also a writer stayed after hours, where said employee chose to answer the phone after hours and was willing to help us when my Ford Edge wouldn’t start. Hmmm…
Maybe Jonathan was actually our Knight in Shining Karma.