A few weeks ago I had the misfortune (or fortune?) to be driving rental cars. On Tuesday morning, there was an unexplained “hot” radiator indicator in my car, accompanied with a funny whine and the smell of burning rubber. (The whine could be attributed to children. Me without coffee. Or bad music. The burning rubber smell is NEVER a good sign.)
I don’t play around with funny car stuff. I drove straight to the garage and got a rent-a-wreck. (The name of the rental car company has been changed. But the bottom line is the car sucked.)
My mechanic was puzzled. The temperature gauge issue went away, but the noise did not. I took my mechanic’s word as Gospel. “We changed the oil and could find nothing wrong.” The car had an oil change, and Wednesday afternoon, I got rid of the junker. Gladly.
And then… Thursday my battery started draining power. Rather suddenly. Fortunately, having owned a Dodge Omni (worst electrical system in a car EVER) I knew what to do… Turn off the A/C, turn off the GPS, and keep it rolling. It wasn’t too bad until I had to put it in Neutral and gun the engine to keep the car from stalling at every traffic light. In rush hour traffic. I managed to jolly it along and coast into the repair shop, just as the engine died.
As I suspected, it was the alternator. That funny whine was the binding of the alternator’s core. And the burning smell? We just don’t know. Maybe the belts were slipping or binding as the alternator died.
So four out of five days that week, I drove a different car than normal. My new employment requires many more miles in the car than my previous job. I can’t get by on public transportation. These temporary jalopies were a necessity (and even as junkers, they beat the alternative — walking over 20 miles in 90 degree heat!)
There was something these cars didn’t have. Something that helps me drive with Grace:
Yup. That little fish is a not-so-subtle reminder that how I live and act (and drive) are a part of the way I demonstrate my faith to the world around me.
I tend to drive with little patience and (occasionally) a lead foot. I realized that in my rental car, I am anonymous. My address and name aren’t connected to the license. But I also realized why I never put the symbols or bumper stickers on my car… I didn’t want to be held responsible for how I drive! (truth!)
I’m taking a little more time as I drive, trying to remember my manners and consider the other drivers. It’s not my default way of driving… but I’m trying to improve.
It’s not just bumper stickers but all the externals that we wear or show as visible signals of being Christians. Does God need another t-shirt wearing, loud, rude group of diners being a “witness”? Or a cross-wearing customer who berates the server when the cook messes up her order?
So I’m keeping the fish on my speedometer… trying to remember to live with Grace.