Friday, June 6, started off with double scares. The Jeep Renegade tire pressure was a dozen pounds less than Jeep recommended. The automatic door on the Chevy Uplander failed to close fully after loading.
Improbable as it seems, the Jeep and Chevy dealerships respectively were located within three blocks of the Western Star Hotel we just checked out of in Estevan.
To save time, we split up.
The Estevan Jeep dealer immediately helped Gosia. But he expressed worry.
“Those tires are not made for Alaska deep snow,” he said.
“That’s why we bought chains,” Gosia replied. “Isn’t that enough?”
“You brought chains?” he said. “That should work.” He warned Gosia that law enforcement officers might stop the Jeep if they felt chains were not enough for bad weather.
Gosia drove the short distance to the Estevan Chevy dealer. My situation was different. Customers were arriving all at once and the garage door was opening and shutting.
“We can help you, but it will have to be at the end of the day,” said a busy, harried clerk trying to help two customers at once.
Now, some of you know that Gosia says I have a congenital condition that physicians technically call “Poopy Face.”
She says that when things don’t go my way, my brow furrows, my lips quiver, my eyes grow moist.
“I have to be in Alaska by the 10th,” I said. “I have a new job.”
The Chevy greeter looked at my manly almost 77-year-old self. “You’re going to try to get through the Alaska Highway in midwinter?”
“If you can help me close the door, yes.”
He gave it a try. Another customer arrived. “Let me call the body shop manager,” he said.
In a minute the body shop manager hustled over and with sheer strength, slammed the automatic side panel-door.
They wished me luck, and I went through the open door where Gosia’s Jeep sat running.
Oh, no. My poopy face returned. The Chevy’s warning system emitted a jarring noise like a smoke detector going off.
“You have to go back inside,” said Gosia. “Or drive with that noise going off.”
I imagined facing those two sweet Chevy workers. My stomach gurgled.
Then I imagined driving 2,400 or so miles with a smoke alarm ringing in my ears. “Beep,beep, beep” over and over.
My first day of work I’d be talking to the staff and sounding like Porky Pig.
Alternately, I went around the van, opening and closing the electronic and regular doors.
I got back in the van and twisted the key. The alarm was silent.
Like magic, my poopy face grew a smile.
We pointed the GPS in our phones north and west toward Saskatoon and North Battleford.
For today, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”