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Admit it. Something bad you don’t expect occurs, and you immediately think, “why did this have to happen?
This week, it happened twice to me. And the answer was “to prevent you from something even bigger happening in the future."
It started last Sunday. My daughter was visiting and realized when she came home late Saturday night that one of her headlights had burned out. That’s something you have to fix, or when you’re driving home from work the next night you run the risk of getting a ticket for not having two working headlights. And Sunday isn’t the best time to be getting repair work done.
I suggested she call our normal repair shop in the neighborhood and see if they were open. They were, from noon to 5, and were able to fix it, although for a not-so-cheap $350.
“Why did this have to happen?” may have been heard somewhere in the house.
It got worse. While fixing the light, the technician said the water pump was leaking. That’s a major repair of over $1,000, and for a millennial walking the tightrope of making ends meet, getting hit with thousands of dollars of auto repairs can be a source of significant stress. The technician did suggest that it might be covered by warranty, so call the dealer.
She did, and they told her, sorry, the warranty had expired. As in expired just two weeks ago. They would, however, be happy to fix it. For $1,300.
As all fathers know, the Dad’s handbook specifically states no matter how independent your daughter wants to be, this is where you have to get involved. So I called the dealer and was politely told "no" as well. I just as politely replied I understood, but all manufacturers usually allow for some discretion, so could you at least ask if something could be done, given the condition probably had been going on for two weeks.
I won’t name the dealer because he probably doesn’t want hundreds of people asking him to do the same. But the conversation drifted toward the fact he also had daughters and how these things are so upsetting to young people. He said to bring him the car, prove the car had been regularly serviced, and he would at least try to make a case to the manufacturer.
We did, and at the end of the day, we heard nothing. The next morning, nothing. At the end of the second day, there was a message on my phone saying come get the car, but no other information. When I got there, the receipt showed they had fixed the water pump. They also did a check of recalls and there were issues with the fuel pump and a part that worked with the air bag. While they had it, they replaced both, which would have also been major repairs. They even washed it.
Total amount due: Zero. The manufacturer had agreed and absorbed all the costs under warranty.
My daughter of course was elated. But my first thought was none of this happens without the burned out headlight. Odds are she would have been driving somewhere, the car would have run low on water and maybe overheated…she could have even ended up being stranded on the side of the road. Plus by then, it would have been over a month since the warranty expired, not weeks. There would have been no case to make.
A blessing in disguise, I believe it is called.
Then yesterday, the monsoon hit. A few weeks ago, a small leak appeared in my kitchen ceiling. It appeared to be at a seam in a gutter, so I caulked it and thought it was fixed. Since it hadn’t rained much, there was no more evidence of a leak, so I had mentally pronounced it repaired.
I was wrong, and the 4 inches of rain that fell in six hours here in Ashburn revealed that. Again, that feeling of “why did this have to happen?” popped up as I headed down to the basement to go look for a bucket. But when I got down there, I noticed something strange.
Water was dripping down a specific area of one of my basement walls. In 18 years, that’s never happened. And it was starting to puddle at the bottom. So I went outside to see what was going on at that specific part of the house outside. I had hired a crew to do some landscaping two weeks ago, and at the bottom of a downspout exactly where the basement wall was taking in water, there used to be a lengthy cement base that moved water away from the house.
The landscapers moved it. The water was just pouring down like a fire hose right against that part of the foundation. I put the stone back, and everything stopped. Had I not seen that, I could have gotten up this morning with a flooded basement. With the forecast calling for rain for the next 6 days, it could have really gotten ugly.
A blessing in disguise, I believe they call that.
So I’m sure more things like this are going to happen. As I told my daughter, this is the definition of life. But as I also told her, don’t be so quick to believe when these things occur, it's necessarily a bad thing.
Sometimes, if you’re patient, they actually turn into something very positive.