once again, saved by an angel

as many of you know, i have had some challenges with the mechanical devices in my life — namely, cars and boats and motor coaches.  for some reason i seem to run into problems with them from time to time.

my recent trip to Death Valley was no exception.

as most of you also know, my mechanical IQ and abilities are very, very limited. in fact, some have argued that they are non existent.  this shows up from time to time.

my recent trip to Death Valley was no exception.

and as my readers know, i have often been blessed to find an angel or just get plain lucky. Somehow I have been able to not only survive, but get the problem in some way or another taken care of, and been able to move on.

my recent trip to Death Valley was no exception.

so what happened on this trip to Death Valley, you may ask.  it was a “small” problem compared to some of the ones i have had in the past, but still it was a problem that needed attention and a solution, if only a temporary one.

on my first day of hiking in Death Valley i drove my 2007 Jeep Liberty into the parking area at the trail head.  i parked the car, got my backpack on, extended my hiking poles, double checked my water supply, tied my hiking shoes tightly, made sure that i had a naval orange and some dried apricots in my pack, and put on my visor.  once i did this i made sure that the car was in park gear, the car’s headlights were turned off, the windows were up.  i then make sure that i have covered all of my belongings that are in the car with a large blanket.  all this before i locked the car.

you need to understand what was in my Jeep Liberty vehicle that i was leaving in the parking lot as i started my 4.2 mile hike.  my quick answer would be “my whole life.”  that is an exaggeration, but it feels that way to me.  since i am traveling from Southern California to Seattle, i have 20+ hangers with clothes hanging from a circular bar that stretches from one side of the car to the other, across the back seat of the car.  i have food for a road trip including all kinds of snacks and of course my essential peanut butter, jelly along with my Wonder Bread.  many, many bottles of water and Zero Gatorade.  i have all of my sports equipment including my golf clubs, golf shoes, tennis racquet and balls, pickleball paddles and balls, my swim googles, my frisbee, my yoga mat. and my extra set of hiking poles.  i have two Office Max file boxes full of files needed for my foundation and my consulting.  i have a pile of books, newspapers and magazines that i am reading.  i have my tennis shoes, my dark black dress shoes, my flip flops.  in short, the car is loaded.

i take my hike and two and a half hours later i return to the car.  as i approach the car, i cannot believe what i am seeing.  the right front window, the one on the passenger’s side of the car, is missing.  it is totally gone.

OMG.  holy cow!  i say to myself what the hell has happened.  my first thought is that someone has broken the window and gotten in the car and stolen everything, everything.  Oh my goodness!

i quickly walk up to the wide open window, and peer inside.  everything seems to be in order inside. all my gear seems to be there. and there is no broken glass on the front seat.  what they heck has happened?  there is no way that i would have left the window down when i locked the car.  no way, i say to myself.  i am always so careful to push the automatic control buttons on the center console to raise both the window on the driver’s side and the one on the passenger’s side simultaneously.  always, always.

i go over to the driver’s side, unlock the car door, turn the ignition key on, start the motor, and push the button that controls the up and down movement of the right front window.  low and behold, nothing happens when i move the button no matter which way i push it — neither up nor down.  i realize at this point that my automatic window is not working.  it is busted.  it won’t go back up.  the window is still there, but hidden in the door panel.

this is no problem in one sense.  i love to drive with my windows down.  i love the fresh air, and i really despise air conditioning.

however, it is a real problem from the point of few of security.  with the window down, it is an open invitation for someone to ransack my car and help themselves to whatever interests them.

i need to fix this window.  one thing is clear.  i am not able to fix it myself.  not even close. other than trying the buttons a few times to try to coach the windows back up, my efforts are completed.  i have no idea how to fix this.

my next instinct is to search for help.  the obvious first thought is to go to the one gas station and ask for help.  the station says the sell gas and “other services”.  so, i am hoping that they have a mechanic on duty who can help.

dream on Neil.  the only employee the filling station has is a young man who stands behind a glass window to take your credit card for gas.  he does nothing else.  there is now, never has been, and will not be in the future any mechanic at that filling station.  it is gas only.

but, i ask the young man if he has any ideas on who could help me.  he says “check the off road jeep rental “store” down the road.  he may have an idea.”  i thank him and head down the road to find the “store” he is talking about.  just 150 feet from the gas station is a trailer with a big sign saying “jeep rental”.  this must be the “store”.

there is not a single jeep out front, and the door of the trailer has a handwritten sign on it which says “closed”.  i drive up with my jeep and stare at the trailer.  what am i to do.  there is no other “stores” in Death Valley.  there is no where to go to find anyone to work on my vehicle. at this point, my mind is racing, trying to think of different potential scenarios.  none of them are good ones.

at this point i am shocked to see a man walk out of the door of the trailer.  i get out of my car and ask him if he works here.  he says no, but Sal is inside.  i then walk up the ramp to the door that says “closed” and knock.  a gentleman comes to the door, opens it and asks what do i want.  Sal is a little scruffy, hair unkempt, tee-shirt is torn and wet from sweat, torn work jeans on, has not shaved recently.  Sal keeps looking at the ground.

i tell him my predicament and ask if he can help me.  he closes the door behind him and walks toward my car.  he says “i will take a look at it”.   “thank you” i say.

he opens my front right door and plays with the automatic button that is supposed to raise and lower the window.  he looks down the window into the car door.  he attempts to put his fingers down the very narrow opening in the door that the window retreats when it is down.  he carefully explains each step he is doing.  he identifies and then eliminates one, two, three and four things that could be causing the problem.  that leaves him with one thing — the regulator.  he determines that the regulator must have gone bad.  i need a new regulator he says.

i have never even heard of a regulator, much less known that they are critical to having a window go up or down in car.

well, i am impressed by Sal’s approach to the problem.  he obviously knows something about windows in jeeps.

i ask Sal what am i to do between now and the time when i can get a regulator in some city in California. He says that maybe he can somehow pull the window up out of the door — enough so that he could duck tape the window in place until i can drive to a city to get it fixed.

somehow he is able to pull the window up and out of the door to its original up or closed position.  it is wobbly, but it is there.  he asks me to hold the window while he goes back in his trailer to get some duck tape.  he comes out and start to duck tape my window to the door frame.  everywhere he can.  it does not look pretty but it appears to be holding the window in place.  and surely will be a deterrent to any would be car prowlers.

what an angel, i am saying to myself.  wow.  am i lucky to have found Sal.  what would i have done if i had not met Sal.

Sure enough. a few days later in San Rafael CA the jeep repair shop ordered a regulator for my window, installed it, and everything works just as it should.  Sal was right.

once again, i was saved by an angel.


5 thoughts on “once again, saved by an angel”

  1. I had the same issue. Was away on trip, on return back window half down. Costly repair. 6 months later the other window. This time, ordered part and repaired myself. 1/4 of the cost.

  2. Great story Neil. You are lucky to find angles in your life. Hope the rest of your trip will be safe and no more surprises.

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