“Where you from?” the RACQ Breakdown mechanic asked. He was replacing a shoddy battery in my sister’s car. I told him we left Gympie a week ago and were travelling around Australia. “I worked with a bloke from Gympie in Mt Isa,” he said. “Odd sort of fella.”
Then he told me his name.
I have a theory the only thing between discovering you and just about anyone you meet have a connection is the right question. As I said in a post a couple of days ago, Tracey walked into an office to book the bus in and discovered the lady behind the counter was drinking champers at a convention on the Gold Coast with my sister and brother-in-law a few weeks earlier.
“I know him,” I said, marvelling yet again at how small the world really is. “And you’re wrong. He’s not one of the odd ones. I am.”
It was Christmas Eve and, because I was running an hour ahead of schedule, I’d decided to duck into Bunnings for a gas fitting and some reflective insulation for the bus windows – something I swore I didn’t want in the month before we left because of the aesthetics but which I now think is the sexiest window dressing out there. I emerged from the store with my purchases and, even allowing for the twenty minute drive to town, a solid two hours up my sleeve before the shops shut for last minute Christmas shopping.
Not the big ticket items, like beer or prawns, just the extras such as a present for Tracey and something to win the heart of our grandson the next day.
I put everything into the boot and, because I was feeling relaxed and confident, I walked the trolley all the way back into the store.
I should have known better. There’s a train of thought which says the more important something is the more time you should allow to get to it, in case something goes wrong. I’m calling bullshit. My experience is the more time you have up your sleeve the more likely something is to go wrong.
Not only did the engine not start, it didn’t even pretend like it might. Usually when I have a flat battery (yes, I get to say usually) it at least goes whrrrr or ticks. Not a single sound issued from under the bonnet.
RACQ Breakdown told me help was on its way but might be up to an hour and a half. I looked at my watch and did some calculations, then send Tracey a message.
Not sure what to buy Izzy. Do you think he would like a tool belt?
Weren’t we getting him some clothes and Little People?
Yeah, about that….
‘If she thinks she’s disappointed about Izzy’s present,’ I thought to myself, ‘wait until she unwraps her shiny new gas fitting tomorrow.’
An hour and a half later on the dot the yellow & white car-ambulance arrived and the bloke set to work replacing the battery and we discovered our connection.
When he was done and we’d completed the paperwork I had 35 minutes left until the shops shut. My iPhone was telling me it was a 19 minute drive. After parking I figured it would leave me with fifteen minutes in an unfamiliar shopping centre to visit a chemist, JB Hi-Fi, Target, Kmart, Coles and Camera House.
“I got this,” I muttered to myself, because this is not my first rodeo and being a serial procrastinator has given me a stupid sense of what is possible if you’re running late and really really need to meet a deadline you’ve been mentally preparing for but physically avoiding like it’s foot fungus. “I might even have time to grab a coffee.”
Which is when my phone on the seat beside me started to buzz. I tossed up whether to risk pulling over or ignore it. Figuring it was Tracey wanting me to reassure her we’d have a present who’s age rating matches our grandson’s I decided I could spare thirty seconds.
“It’s the RACQ bloke here,” a voice said into my ear. “What’s your wife’s name?”
“Tracey,” I told him, thinking he’s just worked out he knows her too but also hoping to wrap this up so I could get on with speeding into Cairns.
“Tracey Devereaux?” he said. I nodded, because dumb. “I thought so. You’ve left her credit card on the ground here.”
NOTE: Only because the good people at Coles and Kmart and Target all stayed open beyond the hours advertised on the internet was I able to get everything I needed in time…but of course, if I’d known they were open later I wouldn’t have left to go to town when I did 😉 Lucky that.