Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kate Miller 10: Back Home

It can be hard to leave weeks of fun and go back to "real" life, but there are always beautiful things that brighten the transition.

10. Back Home (Jan 7, 2013)

          About a week and a half before Kate took her pregnancy test, she had gotten in a car accident. She
was surprised to later find out that one of her best friends, Louise, had also gotten in a car crash shortly
before finding out that she was pregnant with their first! The crash itself was minor, but the front end was
pretty damaged. Kate was infinitely thankful that the engine was fine and that she was able to drive it
home, though from all appearances, it certainly looked pretty smashed! Over the next few days, she had
checked into the local autobody shops and asked about rates and checked the internet for customer
reviews. She decided to try out one Auto Body of Vienna. It was a little farther away than she wanted, but it had really excellent reviews.
           It was hard to find. And when she did find it, she wasn’t sure she would stay. The shop was down
a back way, and was very small and a little shabby. But inside, there was a friendly staff of mechanics and
painters, and they were eager to do what they could to help Kate. Sometimes it’s handy to look at least
eight years younger than I am, she thought. She knitted while she waited, and delighted in the supposition
that she was a social abnormality. One of the owners had done the evaluation, and went over the car with
her, taking time to explain and make alternate suggestions. Kate was very pleased and impressed with his
thoughtfulness. But when she looked over the proposed bill with Mister, her toes positively curled. Mister
flipped through the sheets to seek out what was absolutely necessary.
         “If we don’t have them repaint,” he said eventually, “it would cut the bill almost in half.”
         “Wow! That would make it much more manageable. Let me call them back and see if they can do
that, and if there’s anything else that could be reasonably cut out.”
          The owner was happy to keep costs down by cutting out the paint job, and would try to find all the
second-hand parts he could from his contacts. “It’s an uncommon car,” he said, “and some of the parts are
surprisingly cheap. And if you decide that you can pay in cash, I’ll knock off another two-hundred
dollars. So—about $2700. And we’ll certainly store it for free while you’re on your trip.” Kate was sold.
She dropped the car off a couple days later.
          While Kate and Mister were visiting the Millers in Colorado, Kate got a call from the auto shop.
         “We’ve finished your car,” he yelled over a loud clanging, “you can come pick it up anytime!”
         “That’s great,” Kate yelled back, “But we’re still out of town. We’ll be back on the 7 th.”
         “No problem! By the way, our boys painted your hood white because they couldn’t stand seeing it
black! They were working on a different white car, and had some paint leftover! It’s a different white, but
it’s better than black! No charge of course…I hope you like it!”
          Kate laughed, “That’s great! I’ll love it. Shall we bring the cash when we pick it up?”
          “Sure!” he yelled. “I think about $2600 should be good.”
          Kate smiled as she hung up. What a sweet business. She hadn’t been looking forward to having a
black hood on a white car. And he just knocked another hundred off the price!
          After getting up at 3AM, Kate and Mister were drooping when they arrived back in D.C. Aunt
picked them up and took them straight to the auto shop. The owner showed them the car; it looked good,
even though the hood was a bright snow white, in contrast with the pearl white of the car body.
         “You folks went to Hillsdale College?” he asked, admiring their sweatshirts.
         “Yes,” they both smiled, “that’s where we met.”
         “Great school, great, great school.” He mused. “Trying to get my youngest to go there.”
         When Kate jumped into Aunt’s warm car as Paul went inside to pay, Aunt handed her a foiled
covered pan and a bag of frozen beans.
         “Here’s your dinner,” she said matter-of-factly.
         Kate was so tired already, and so hungry, and she knew that there was absolutely nothing in the
fridge. Aunt certainly had moments of being angelically thoughtful.
Driving home in their restored car, Kate asked almost as an afterthought, “How much did he
charge you for the car?”
         Kate grinned. “An extra hundred off!” Then she laughed, “I call that the ‘Hillsdale discount’. A
good car and dinner to eat and home,” she sighed contendly, “We’re so blessed. So, so, very blessed.”

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