Earlier this week I was doing research for a class I’m considering teaching in January. I remembered having written something about the topic I am studying, so I searched my own blog. In case you haven’t poked around SWYW, there’s a search box in the upper right. There are also menu headings and a list of post tags, little descriptors for every post I write.
The post I stumbled upon wasn’t too bad, if I say so myself. I’ve written over 300 posts since I started blogging two years ago. Not all have been great, but there are enough that I’d like to put before you again from time to time. I may edit them a little.
This remix is from a very long post I wrote as part of a series looking back on 2009. Hidden in this 2,000 word post (egad!) is the crazy story of our moving night, when I got the truck stuck on a frigid Saturday evening in January.
The day we packed up the truck in Toledo was a long one that started for me at 6 am and extended through the following day until 3 am. Our helpers completed the task quickly, arriving at 9 am and finishing before noon. We still had to pack some miscellaneous items, whatever we could fit, and do some cleaning. We’d also wanted to prepare the home a little for Laura.
So it was nearly 9 pm when we finally set out for our new home. The U-Haul truck we rented was a 26-foot behemoth, behind which I towed my minivan. Because our street wasn’t a through-street, I decided to park it behind Applebee’s, about 50–75 yards from our house. We departed from there, Cindy in the Sienna with the kids and whatever else we could fit safely.
I decided to exit onto Monroe Street, but the Applebee’s parking lot was crowded; it was a Saturday night. I realized I wouldn’t be able to make the turn out of the parking lot without hitting at least one car. I couldn’t very well backup, because the one thing I remembered from the U-Haul guy was, “Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’ll have to go in reverse. You could damage your car.” He might as well have been a prophet.
Applebee’s shares a parking lot with a vacant Rite Aid building, which features a sharp driveway that originally led to their prescription drop off/pick up window. It seemed my only option, so I proceeded cautiously. I became rather proud of myself after navigating the sharp U of the driveway until I realized I wouldn’t be able to clear the small canopy intended to protect drivers picking up their medications. That blasted canopy became my greatest obstacle, an object of much scorn, at which I lashed out at least once.
I refer you to my rudimentary drawing I sketched on the whiteboard in my office. Notice, my original plan would have taken me safely to Monroe Street with ease, if not for the cars of Applebee’s revelers. Instead, I was now stuck on the east side of Rite Aid, cursing more like a sailor than a pastor—thankfully far from earshot of anyone else.
To my right was a 2-foot drop, which I could have easily leapt if not for the furniture and boxes in the back of the truck, which was the whole purpose of the truck anyway. There was no way I could back out the way I’d come in, especially not with the minivan behind me.
Cindy arrived back at the truck, wondering why I hadn’t made it to our meeting place, the McDonald’s where we’d grab food for the journey. We devised a plan. We’d unhitch the minivan and the car trailer. The Plymouth Voyager we’d bought used six years ago featured a hitch we’d never had a use for, the same one I’d regularly hit my shin on while loading and unloading the rear. It came in handy that night.
I had to back the Voyager out of the drive then back it in the opposite way to retrieve the trailer. This was not an easy task considering the sharp angles, one that led me to believe backing out the truck was a hopeless cause. Perhaps because my wife had arrived, my curses had changed to desperate prayers.
I hopped in the truck and Cindy remained in view of my mirrors. I offered up countless petitions for literal guidance over the next 30 – 45 minutes which consisted of shifting from drive to reverse repeatedly and making quick bursts left and right. Many times I had to jump out of the truck to examine the situation behind me. At long last, I was excited when I steered the truck out of the drive into the clearing of the parking lot, an exhilaration the captain of the Titanic would have felt had he been able to avoid his obstacle.
I drove the truck to the north side of Rite Aid where we’d planned to hook the minivan back on. I needed Cindy for one more chore, making sure the tires of the Voyager were aligned with the ramp of the trailer. Directly behind the truck, she moved from side to side to make sure I was set when she apparently forgot the trailer attached to the truck. She suddenly hit it and immediately flopped to the ground on the other side. She let out what the girls, who were sort of observing, said sounded like the first syllable of an incomplete sneeze.
I was horrified thinking I’d lost my bride on the eve of our move. She was okay, though. Certainly angels cushioned her fall to the asphalt, the same angels who likely guided the truck out of the Rite Aid drive. We would further need them to safely escort a sleepy family in two vehicles on the 180-mile drive.
James 2 says to consider troubles as an opportunity for great joy, because they develop our character. That great trial behind Rite Aid was just what Cindy and I needed. We’d been squabbling all week, little spats primarily about what needed to be packed, what needed to be thrown away, what should be saved, and what should be given away. Our nine years in Toledo shouldn’t have ended in conflict on our last night there. I realized this even then when before we departed we embraced like Super Bowl victors.
We never quite know what God has planned, and the future can seem as foggy as the past couple days here in Eaton. But two things are certain: I don’t want to see a U-Haul truck again for a long time and I’ll opt for the inside of the store to pick up a prescription—and it’ll be a Walgreens.