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Dropping Off the Grid

Oct 4th, 2013 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

Nick Kemper photo.I got to have my car towed this week. It overheated. We were in the middle of three days of 90-degree heat, clinic which is a little odd for this time of year in Oregon, and I thought my A/C was acting up until I noticed the temperature gauge looked a little off. I shut it down and checked the coolant, which was full, but cloudy. Not good.

I pulled off 99E on the south end of Oregon City and called my friends at Speed’s Supertow, one of our sister companies. They gave me an ETA of 60-90 minutes, which I didn’t so much mind, because it gave me time to find a local refreshment. As it happened there was a pub only a couple blocks away. Closed on Mondays. Bummer.

I headed the other direction and saw some beautiful old homes that I’d never seen before. Oregon City is an old city, Oregon’s original capital. It overlooks the Willamette River. Right there on that end of town there is an abandoned paper mill that would make a great site for a real-life Halo location. It’s big — with lots of structures of varying sizes and shapes in states of disrepair connected by catwalks and enormous tubes and latticework. There is for sure a basement of some sort, and it’s right on the water so my player can still mistakenly jump off the wrong balcony to his death — just like in some of the real Halo locations (well, “real” in a virtual sense).

Fortunately I found a pub that was open and I had just enough time to drink a Black-and-Tan, eat some happy hour fries and read a book that I’ve been needing to finish to get it back to the library only a day or two overdue. (I finished it the next day while stuck in traffic — some guy’s boat fell off his trailer and got hit by multiple vehicles on I-5.)

When I’m where I’m supposed to be — home, work, in transit in-between — I always have multiple tasks on my calendar that I’m checking off. I’m not multi-tasking — I don’t believe in the idea — but I’m moving from one task to the next and sometimes back and forth. I have even regular, menial tasks on my calendar. You might think it’s crazy, but if I don’t schedule myself to pick up the dog poop out of the yard twice a week I’ll forget. When my car overheated and I had 60 to 90 minutes with nothing to do but eat and read, I felt like I had fallen off the grid. I guess I was lucky it happened in historic old-town Oregon City and not in the Mojave Desert, but luck counts too.

The Supertow driver who finally rescued me did a fine job. Very efficient, meticulous, confident. The cab of her truck was very clean. We discussed a few minor issues she had with the truck. It was a new truck, only a couple months old, and it already had some problems, like a loose arm rest (shame on you, Ford). We also talked about driver turnover (don’t know how we got on that subject). She was a year into the job and liked it. I confessed to her that I had driven tow trucks for 20 years and never once towed a car on a carrier. I’m an Eagle man, tried and true. That gave me an excuse for not assisting with the hookup or unhook. She dropped me off at the light-rail station after we left my car at our company shop. On the train home I got to avoid eye contact with many interesting and aromatic people.

Embracing the 60-90-minute ETA was an example of a new acronym I’m coining along the lines of YOLO: DWYW. I don’t know how to say it, but it stands for “Do What You Want.” Maybe “Dewey-Do.” The caveat is that you have to be an emotionally and psychologically healthy person. If you are, and you DWYW as much as you can, you actually might enjoy life more and make it a better place.

That might turn out to be the last time I drove that car. Could be a head gasket, and the car’s not worth that much, and the tranny had been acting up as well. I don’t like the car — a Subaru Legacy station wagon — nearly as much as the Honda Civic I wrecked last year, but oddly enough I appreciated it more that one day, when it told me to stop and find a pub, than I had the whole year I drove it.

Thank you, little Subaru, for dropping me off the grid for an hour or so.

You made my day.

Nick Kemper