Thursday, January 21, 2010


We Angelenos typically get overly excited when it rains, but this week, the series of fierce storms we've had since Sunday has made life inconvenient and dangerous. The ravaged hills where this October's fires raged are flooding, causing mudslides and evacuating whole neighborhoods. We Topangans worry about rockslides blocking our only exit road. Even in relatively urban parts of town, intersections are flooding and tornado-like gales are flipping SUVs over like toys.

It's such a serious storm my mother called from Chicago to see how we're doing. My mother-in-law also called - and she's in Florida experiencing record freezes!

Even some readers have written with concerns - for which humbly I thank you!

This morning I was scheduled to drive to Burbank to attend a seminar for my job - some 30 miles from my home. The storm predicted for today was supposed to be the Big One, but when I went out today, though the sky was overcast, it was dry and we seemed to be in a lull. I figured could make it to Burbank, attend the seminar, and be back home before the storm hit.

My little '99 Volkwagen is becoming increasingly less trusty, but it had just been serviced a few weeks ago, and it was running fine. There's been a little problem with a balky defroster, but as I headed up to the San Fernando Valley my windshield was clear and I crested the Top of Topanga summit by 7:20 am.

The Ventura Freeway looked like it was moving, so up the ramp I went. We were moving fine, even passing the 405. A brief cloudburst, then it cleared. I was cruising along just shy of the fast lane, passed a sign that told me I'd be at the junction to the 134 in 15 minutes, and then it happened.

You know how you can almost feel it in your hands, through the steering wheel when something's wrong with the engine? My "check engine" light came on and I felt the car weaken. I flicked on the turn signal and changed lanes, at another break changed again, skirted merging traffic and changed again and then only my forward momentum carried me out of traffic and onto a broad shoulder which - magically - just began right there.

I wasn't at all afraid when I was negotiating my way off the road, but once the car stopped I felt a rush of adrenalin so strong my hands were shaking.

I called AAA. A truck would be out in 25 minutes, they said. I sat in the car and read a book I'd stashed in my purse, and right on the money Monty's Club Service rolled up and pulled my little Volks up on the flatbed.

You can see from the photo how I managed to roll off the freeway right where the shoulder broadened out.

Monty took me to an auto repair shop in North Hollywood, where the proprietor gave me a cup of coffee, and started to work on the car. I called [The Man I Love] and let him know what happened. I knew he had a busy day. I figured I could find a restaurant or coffee shop down the street to wait out the day. But he said he could cancel some meetings and come pick me up.

The proprietor came back and rolled a small space heater by my chair and turned it on. "It might be a while before we can fix it," he said, and turned the TV on to CNN.

As I sat in the cramped little office, warmed by his kindness, I noticed hanging over the doorway to the garage three good luck charms.

A blue glass eye, a downward turned horseshoe; a sequin-and-bead saint's charm with a dangling cross (is it Saint Christopher? Saint Sebastian of Aparicio?). Above the door a piece of unspeakably shredded and melted metal adorned with a medallion of the Virgin and Child.

Luck. I'd certainly had some luck this morning.

A dry road. Light traffic with breaks to merge. A broad safe shoulder. A fully-charged cell phone. A kind tow-truck driver, and a warm cup of coffee. A husband able to change his schedule and come pick me up.

We're back home now, and by the time we pulled into our driveway, the storm let loose. We're inside and cozy. We don't know what's wrong with the Volkswagen, or how much it will cost, and we haven't even thought about the logistics of driving back to North Hollywood to retrieve it.

But as the voices on the radio read out accident reports and sigalerts, and warnings of flooding and injury accidents, I just thought about how very grateful I am for the good luck that had blessed me this morning.


Chuck Pefley said...

Isn't it amazing how things have a way of working out sometimes? A great story and I'd venture to say if you didn't make photos and blog you likely wouldn't have examined and contemplated the good luck pieces hanging above the doorway.

Blessings ...

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Glad you're safe - and the photos of the good luck charms are terrif!

M. Bouffant said...

And, it wasn't raining (visibly) when the car gave out.

Stay dry!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Oh it all sounds just horrible!

Life with Kaishon said...

I am so glad you are safe. Some call it luck. I tend to lean towards God, but to each his (or her : ) own!

What a blessing!

I love that the shop owner was so kind and caring. Very nice.
I also love that you had a book tucked in your purse! So wise! What are you reading? I just finished (in one sitting) reading Push which is the book Precious was based on. It was disturbing.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


A round of Luck for everyone, on the house!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I'm so glad it turned out well for you. I drive, but I don't like it. I haven't for many years. I can't imagine driving on the freeway. I have a hard enough time when I'm the passenger!



When you retrieve your VW, please find out more about the charms. Curious.

phd in yogurtry said...

Ok, I just love the car repair art. Art found in the least likely spots is some of the best art of all.

And yes, thanks be to the designers of broad shoulders in just the right places, to include on top of the torso's of men ; )

Gilly said...

Oh, Glennis, you were lucky that morning! Its frightening when something like that happens isn't it? Especially on a motorway (freeway to you?)

So pleased it all turned out right - and I hope your car won't cost the earth to repair!

AND I hope that those storms won't cause any more harm - the world is sure having some very strange weather!

kcinnova said...

I'd say Someone was looking out for you! So many things could have gone wrong... and didn't.
I love how you noticed and photographed those good luck pieces and wove them into your tale.

Stay safe!

cactus petunia said...

I think you were most certainly both lucky and blessed!