Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

I love Tesla’s cover of that song. “Signs.”

Well, we tried to attend a friend’s wedding in Palm Springs on Saturday. Let me tell you how that worked out.

We left late in the morning for the 3:00PM ceremony, anticipating a pleasant four-hour drive through the desert. We love driving through the desert. It was sunny and warm, and the broad sky was as gorgeous as usual. I made sandwiches. We loaded up the truck with water and a selection of our favorite driving-through-the-desert music.

The previous evening, we’d had a little mechanical drama when our truck died while we were out running errands, but when the time came to leave for California we felt confident that everything was fine because the emergency road-side service people at our insurance company had sent Steve Buscemi in a tow truck, and he’d hauled us off to Auto Zone; we had a brand-new battery under the hood thanks to him.

Steve Buscemi’s secret identical twin brother, that is. Same exact difference.

 

Same looks. Same voice and manner of speaking. Hell, same mannerisms all the way around.

Same looks. Same voice and manner of speaking. Hell, same mannerisms all the way around.

 

So it’s Saturday morning. We have our new battery, and we hit the road.

 

Quartzsite, our last stop out of Arizona

Quartzsite, our last stop out of Arizona

 

Not long after we cross the border into California, we break down again. It’s the same scenario as the night before, but this time, we aren’t in the parking lot of a Target, and there’s no Steve Buscemi to come to our rescue. This time, we’re in the desert on the outskirts of Blythe, conveniently close to the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, which I’d heard has good Eggs Benedict. We just manage to coast off the Wiley’s Well Road exit to the rest area.

 

I actually don't even know where I took this, exactly. Does it matter?

I actually don’t even know where I took this, exactly. Does it matter?

 

Callaghan and I have a long-standing habit of cracking jokes about Blythe (and Bakersfield, but that’s irrelevant), so I guess a possible moral of this story is, don’t make fun of Blythe, because if you do, you’ll break down on the road and end up spending the afternoon there.

The more likely moral of the story, though, is that we weren’t supposed to go to that wedding.

Now, I’m not a trigger-happy “signs of the Universe” type person, seeing signs everywhere, in everything, for every reason, but I do keep an open, aware mind and gauge matters according to the facts apparent in the big picture while holding my sixth-sense finger attentively on the pulse of my intuition. When the collection of “coincidences” too profoundly resembles an enormous glowing neon SIGN that we are NOT supposed to go to the wedding, it’s just plain common sense. You’re not supposed to go to the wedding. You turn around and go home as soon as you safely can.

On Saturday, the Universe plainly said, “You guys aren’t supposed to go to this wedding, and you didn’t heed my warning when your truck broke down last night, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to concoct another mechanical break-down, but I’m going to put all the pieces into place necessary to ensure your safety and get you home with minimal hassle. The snafu is going to be serious enough to cause you to miss the wedding completely, and dramatic enough to let you know that it’s a sign from ME and you’d better not push it by trying to get to the reception. Take the gifts I give you and use them to get home.”

And so it was that everything was exquisitely in place.

–Our truck broke down precisely when and where we could glide onto Wiley’s Well Road.

–Within ten minutes, a trucker appeared off the freeway in a vehicle whose engine was perfectly suited to jump-start our 4-Runner’s battery,

–and, being sent by the Universe, he knew the area very well, so he was able to give us specific directions to the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in Blythe.

–After we changed out our battery in Blythe and prepared to continue on to Palm Springs, we broke down again – for the third time! – when we stopped to get gas at the Valero station positioned on the on-ramp of the freeway.

Universe: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING STILL PLANNING TO TRY TO MAKE IT TO THAT WEDDING? WHAT PART OF “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO PALM SPRINGS” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? HERE, HAVE ANOTHER BREAK-DOWN, YOU FOOLS!

Us: Uh. Okay. Guess we’re not going to that wedding.

The day continues on in this serendipitous manner:

Somehow, Callaghan is able to manipulate things under the hood enough to get the engine going. Back at the auto parts store, a different guy runs the diagnostics again and discovers the real problem – a dead regulator (inside the alternator). It was the alternator that killed the battery.

–An alternator specific to the make, model and year of our truck happens to be in stock.

–An auto repair shop happens to be right down the street… the O’Reilly Auto Parts guy gives us the phone number.

–By the time our transactions at the auto parts store are complete and we get to the shop, we find that the lone mechanic, who’d been working on a car and had another on deck when I’d called, had just then become available to take us. He gets right to work replacing the alternator and gives us an estimated wait time of one hour.

We walk to the Starbucks (miraculously positioned there in that tiny desert town) across the street to get some coffee while we wait. Callaghan gets online and calls Bill, one of the grooms (it was a two-groom wedding). They’d been expecting us, and we didn’t want them to worry. The ceremony is over and Bill is finally, officially married to his partner of 20 years. We congratulate them heartily. From Blythe.

We drive back to Arizona with a picturesque sunset behind us and get home just in time to feed Ronnie James and Nounours, who had no idea that Mommy and Daddy narrowly escaped some fate far worse than breaking down on the road. What unspeakable catastrophe did we avoid by not making it to Palm Springs?

We’ll never know.

One thing we do know: the Natural Born Killers soundtrack is still an entertaining soundtrack to play while driving through the desert in the American southwest.

 

Driving back to AZ with the sunset behind us. Cue Leonard Cohen.

Driving back to AZ with the sunset behind us. Cue Leonard Cohen.

 

Also, Blythe? Is a cute little place with friendly, helpful people. If you break down in the desert between Arizona and California, try to make it there.

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