Teri Vance: Of cars and calves
For the Nevada Appeal
I had the unfortunate experience of having my car die in an intersection on the way to work Thursday morning. It started with one light on the dashboard turning on (I would tell you which one it was, but I didn’t even know), then more and more started coming on.
The radio kept going out and the windshield wipers barely wiped. From past experience, I thought it might be the alternator going out. And also from past experience, I knew I didn’t have much time.
Sure enough, it died just as I was pulling up to the light at the corner of Goni Road and College Parkway.
Anyone who’s had their car die knows that feeling. First, your heart sinks because the car is dead. Then the public humiliation sets in.
My first phone call was to my husband, who, of course, didn’t answer the phone. The second call was to my sister, Casandra. We made a plan to call a tow truck then she’d meet me at the scene of the crime and give me a ride to the mechanic then to work.
While I was waiting, a couple of highway patrolmen stopped to push my car more out of the way then waited with me to direct traffic — which was nice.
I had it towed to Capitol Automotive, honestly just because I wrote a story once about them donating to Muscle Powered. I talked to Bob there who I told of my notoriously bad luck cars. I told him it seemed like an alternator issue, but with my luck it was most likely a melted computer.
Bob said that sounded drastic.
I left it in his capable hands — asking him to take a look at my power steering that had been giving me problems as well — and returned to the business of writing.
I also called my sister, Leanna, to tell her of my harrowing morning. Turns out, I wasn’t alone.
She had a heifer calve the day before and the first-time momma was not having it. She wouldn’t let her new baby nurse. Even more, she was trying to kill it, head-butting it and throwing it across the field.
When Leanna stepped in, she got head-butted and thrown.
While I was bruised emotionally and likely financially, Leanna was nursing actual physical bruises.
We commiserated over our mutual terrible day.
But our conversation was interrupted when Gary, finally out of his meeting, got my phone call and text. He rushed over to make sure everything was OK.
Having to consolidate cars, I agreed to work out of his office at Basalite for the day to make things more convenient.
I cleared a space for my laptop among hard hats and clip boards and tried to do my job — with Gary shushing me whenever I tried to chat. It felt like detention.
Then Bob called.
It wasn’t the alternator or the power steering pump at all, but a bad serpentine belt that was making them seem broken — my words, not his. I don’t speak that language.
I ended up driving my car home that evening, spending a couple of hundred dollars (including an oil change and new air filter) as opposed to the thousands I had feared.
I called Leanna.
“Guess where I’m calling from?” I asked. “My car!”
“We got the calf to suck,” she replied.
She told me how they roped the heifer and milked her a little, coaxing the seemingly lifeless calf with a syringe full of milk.
She cried when she told me the moment the calf finally latched on.
We agreed it was a good day.