Monday, January 17, 2005

A Turn of Events

Have you ever had that happen? You’re going along with a plan when something turns up and everything starts going a different way? You end up doing something completely different. As a lookout, I am concerned with my ability to agilely adjust to changing circumstances.

A turn of events; I don’t know how many times that has happened to me. I remember back in the 70’s I had this plan to avoid my draft notice. I was going to move from Seattle to Florida, get a job on a yacht via some vague family connection, and then save enough money to make a trip to Europe with my high school friend, K., who was also trying to skip out on the draft.

We took a couple of buddies with us in our hippie van on the trip out east to Florida. They just wanted to come along for the ride and then have a hitchhiking race back to Seattle.

Before we could get out of the state our back wheel came off as we were exiting the freeway. That was pretty lucky I guess. K. got a bad scrape on his back when he was thrown from the couch on to the floor. The wheel didn’t roll too far away, though it nearly missed hitting a car. Of course we had to get towed to a repair shop. That delayed us a day or two, and ate into our capital funding, which wasn’t very healthy to start with.

Then in Nebraska the engine in the van didn’t seem to want to run. I installed a new fuel pump that we carried with us for just such emergencies. I broke a bolt off when I over tightened it during the install process. The fuel pump still worked, but we started leaking oil at the enormous rate of a gallon every hundred miles. Unfortunately, the new fuel pump didn’t correct the problem.

Luckily we had access to the engine from inside the van while driving. We filled up empty coke bottles with gasoline and I sprayed the gas directly into the carburetor as we drove down the highway. That got us going! It was before the days of video cameras, but we did capture the procedure on 8mm film, so I can prove it really happened. We had about enough of that after a few hours, and we pulled over in Valentine, Nebraska. We were running behind our schedule, so I called home to find out about the job on the yacht. Too late, we missed the boat on that one.

So we did what any ordinary person would have done when a turn of events changes plans. We made a new one. It was decided that K. would hitchhike to his Dad’s house in Arizona and pickup his 1965 Mustang which was garaged there. Then he would meet up with the rest of us in up state New York at a designated state park, where we would await his arrival. From there we would go to Boston and find employment.

So K. left on his journey, and we were left with figuring out why our van didn’t want to play nice. As it turned out there was a pink cotton fuzz ball in the gas tank blocking the fuel line. Apparently the pink shag carpet we had installed around the drivers seat had shed enough fuzz that it got into the gas tank. The fuel inlet was behind the driver’s seat, so there you have it. It was a 1947 UPS delivery van, what can you expect?

This adventure goes on, with one unexpected turn of events after another; maybe I’ll tell you some more about it on another day. It makes you wonder what is directing things. Though the events seem haphazard, they create a specific result. Is there some unseen force directing it? I don’t know, I remember on that trip my friend B. told me that was my problem, I thought everything had a reason behind it.

Now an important part of my lookout duties is keeping a lookout for unseen forces.

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