My sister and I were roommates in Chicago back when we were both beginning our professional careers. To travel home to our small town in rural Missouri for a holiday was a seven-hour one-way drive; long, boring and made treacherous by winter weather. We drove Interstate 55 and, not only is this a long stretch, but a flat, wind-blown road with snow fences along the fields to keep the drifting snow off the Interstate. We drove a 12-year-old, hand-me-down Chevy Caprice, nicknamed the Green Beast; it was a boat, so we felt safe amid the trucks and other holiday travelers zooming down the road with us.
It was a cloudy, cold day with intermittent light rain. Three hours into our journey we needed coffee to keep our caffeine-fueled minds focused. I was driving and took the first exit ramp to come our way. Immediately the tires began an uncontrolled slide on the newly accumulated ice. We spun around like a top and crashed into a road sign that snapped as it was conquered by the Green Beast. The car came to a standstill. We were both were fine, but the corner of the sign hit our windshield and knocked a quarter-sized hole in the glass on the passenger side. The spider web cracks radiated out from the hole but did not reach so far over to the driver’s side to obscure our vision.
We looked at one another, grateful that the accident had not been worse, but what to do next? This is before the days of cell phones, and we had no AAA to call. Luckily, the only thing damaged was the windshield and the hole was small, so we resumed our trek. However, we quickly realized the car became very cold with a hole open to the outside. We ran the heater on high, layered ourselves with all the clothing we had packed for the holiday, and did not stop again for fear of the icy exit ramps.
Upon arriving home, we sheepishly told our parents what happened, and my dad quickly jumped on the challenge of replacing our windshield so that we could drive back in just three days. His friends owned Winkler’s Auto, a combo gas station/towing service/junkyard, and somehow between my Dad and those wizards at Winkler’s Auto we had a new windshield in the Green Beast before noon the following day! I was still sleeping when this was all accomplished. Stunning! How could they do this so quickly?
It was an everyday miracle in small-town America, a place overlooked today. In our small-town relationships had meaning. Neighbors helped neighbors. And a windshield can be replaced overnight on a holiday weekend with an after-hours telephone call from a friend who’s two daughters needed help. Let’s help one another when we can. Safe travels and see you at our next mediation. https://usam.com/scheduling/