She and I made a plan the next morning over hot cups of tea. I dunked my tea bag over and over while she listed my problems on a scrap piece of paper. I wished fifteen-year-old-me could have had even a glimpse of that Saturday morning. Our plan hinged on her returning to Vermont with me and staying the weekend. She hated the idea of having me there alone without any form of communication more than I did. I would reschedule the cable company to arrive on Monday and she would be there to meet them while I went to my first day of work and then traveled north to attend my four-day pre-service training. We would stop on our way to Vermont to see if I could find a solution to my lack of cell service. An attachable antenna maybe?
Feeling a little less panicked, I called the cable company. I explained the situation for the fifth time. But I could not get the cable company to agree to come out to my place on Monday. I begged. I pleaded. I got angry. I tried to be sweet. I hung up the phone and cried. “It’s too far out of the way,” I spit out finally. “They only service that area once every few weeks and I missed the service window.” My mom took the phone from me, along with the tiny book that held the cable company number and my address. She dialed calmly, explained the situation thoroughly, and demanded a solution sternly. The cable company booked a service call for 8 am Monday morning, and I wondered if I would ever be able to solve my own problems. But, we were in business.
I took a hot shower. Long and soothing. I stepped out refreshed. Confidant. We climbed into our cars and caravanned north. The windows down, sunglasses on, and the radio turned way up.
I waited at the first cell phone store for an hour before anyone would talk to me. When my turn arrived, the salesman laughed at me. I hardly uttered the phrase “attachable antenna” before he burst out. “Uh, no Miss, there is no such thing as an attachable antenna.” I turned around and walked out. The salesman at the second cell phone store was surprised I didn’t get any service at my place in Vermont. “If you have a couple of bars, you should be able to place and receive calls,” he reasoned the same as I had. He said it might just be that my phone needed a service update. In fact, he was certain it just needed a service update. It would take five hours. Five hours meant we would arrive in Vermont after dark, but I didn’t have any other choice. Five hours later, we were on the road again.
It was about 11:30 pm by the time we crossed the border into Vermont. We appeared to be the only ones traveling the highway that night. I welcomed the solitude. The temperature had dropped quite a bit, so I had my windows rolled up and the volume turned down. I had popped in the CD he made for me. It was melodic and calming after the past 48 hours. I led the way and set the pace; I could see her car behind me in the rearview mirror. With only about an hour left, I felt as though I had at least handled, if not conquered, my problems of the past thirty-six hours. It was hard to believe it had been less than two days, but at least I could finally take a deep breath again.
My car struggled going up the foothills of the Green Mountains. This was nothing new; it always struggled through the Catskills also. But that night I noticed a tug I hadn’t felt before. Or perhaps I had felt it before, I just couldn’t place when. I turned the volume way down on the third steep incline. I could tell something wasn’t right. Three fourths of the way up the side of the tiny mountain, the gas peddle lost all resistance and I heard a thud.
I knew immediately. I threw on my hazards and pulled over to the side of the highway. She pulled up behind me with her hazards on also. I reached for my cell phone to tell her what happened. I didn’t have any service. The road was empty but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I climbed over to the passenger side and squeezed out the door without hitting it on the guardrail. I ran to her car and jumped in. “What happened?!” she asked unusually more panicked than I felt. “My transmission went,” I said matter of factly.
[To Be Continued...]
[Disclaimer: I always have difficulty determining how much of "the story" is mine to tell. This series on my year in Vermont is my version of the year. I am erring on the side of caution to not tell the stories of my friends who journeyed through the year with me. Names, places, details, etc have been changed or omitted for the privacy of the people I care about - and yes, I care about all of them. It's a bit of an old story, really. Most of their journeys have taken them down paths (in Vermont, out of Vermont, some having never set foot near Vermont) that make that year only a distant memory. It is for me, too. But it's such a good memory - a full, rich, important memory - that I want to share my part of the story here.]