This I Believe

Leigha - Muskegon, Michigan
Entered on April 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: carpe diem

I believe in unscheduled pit stops, the kind that throws all your plans out of whack.

I haven’t always been this way. Actually, far from it. Ask anyone I know and they will tell you I’m a schedule person. When I eat breakfast, always Cookie Crisp , to when I do my homework, always at night. I like plans, that way you know exactly where you’re going.

Things changed for me drastically last summer. I went on vacation with my boyfriend Bill to the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Before we even left, I had an itinerary all planned out: Engineer’s Day on Friday, car show on Saturday, Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point Lighthouse on Sunday, Soo Locks boat tour on Monday. It was all planned and nothing could possibly go wrong. But before we reached the Soo, a hole blew in the tailpipe of the truck. It was so loud that when we went down the highway it sounded like the vroom of an airplane taking off.

The first night of our vacation was spent trying to fix the truck. I sat on the cold pavement holding the flashlight as Bill used special tape to try and plug the hole. I had to bend and shine the light under the truck so he could see what he was doing. The night was cold, yes, but it was the most beautiful star filled sky I had ever seen. Normally, I would have been upset that my plans went out the tailpipe, but instead I admired the stars when I had a chance.

Needless to say, the repairs didn’t work, so we repeated this procedure two more nights. The second try was with epoxy. The third method, epoxy and some rocks that Bill shoved into the hole. Each morning we would start the truck and laugh as the previous night’s work blew out of the tailpipe. We’d drive down the highway listening to the ka-ting ka-ting vroom vroom as the rocks and epoxy shot out the back until we couldn’t hold it in any longer. We pulled off the road and laughed until we cried.

If someone had asked me how I’d react if all my carefully laid plans backfired, I’d have said steam would be coming out of my ears. I surprised myself when I rode the wave of uncertainty. Like my grandpa always said, calm down and you’ll have a more harmonious outcome. Schedules and plans are necessities of life. Without them I wouldn’t know what direction I was going. But unscheduled pit stops have a special place for me now. Without them I never know when I’ll get another chance to pause on the cold pavement and soak up a beautiful starry night.