By Lisa Manners September 21, 2015
My Thursday afternoon started as it had for the last couple of weeks that my truck had been broken down. I get up around 11 AM and finish packing my backpack after I mapped out my route for this trip, with the help of the weather channel and the map on my phone. I love my job, but even better, I love to drive and travel. I was asked to start working out near West Palm Beach in Florida, about two months before this day that I will never forget. As a sleep tech I stay up all night and monitor up to three patients as they sleep. My recordings are used to help diagnose and treat people for sleeping disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. I lived out in the St. Petersburg area of Florida, so it was about a four hour drive in a car or in my truck. On my motorcycle, it was a five hour trip that involved a lot of stopping and a lot of being prepared for anything.
On this trip though, I was not prepared for the adventure that was about to happen. My truck being broken down for a month had forced me to take my bike everywhere. My bike is a nice size cruiser or what my grandma always called my Harley, but it is a Honda. It has a bar on the back for my passenger that I attach my backpack to on my trips. I kept a change of clothes and my scrubs for work in my bag, but I also had drinks and snacks for work. My day was going fairly well as I stopped for gas and checked the weather again.
After my second stop of the afternoon, I noticed the traffic was stopping fast in front of me so I tried to slow down. I couldn’t down shift! My clutch cable had broken and I couldn’t get the bike to down shift to help me slow down as I was coming up to traffic! I was able to push my breaks just hard enough to slow me down until the bike stalled out from not being able to pull in the clutch. As I came to a stop the women behind me slammed on her breaks and swerved to miss me. She lost control and went off of the road and spun around in a donut! Thankfully the side shoulder was very wide and she missed the pole running the electric wires across the state.
A moment later a big truck pulled up next to me, I looked up and saw a big smiling face of a dirty bearded man in a truck. He said, “This must be your lucky day!” and I laughed and said, “Oh yeah! Very lucky! That lady almost hit me.” As he laughed and pointed at the door of his truck he said, “No, not just that, check it out!” The side of his truck said ‘Mobil Mechanic’ and my adventure had just begun. He got out of his truck and first tried to rig my clutch so we could maybe just get me going to the next town, but that didn’t work. So, we put the bike in neutral and pushed it into the bushes off of the road and out of site as much as possible so it wouldn’t get stolen.
I jumped into the truck with these two guys and I started texting my boss and my dad and everyone I knew to let them know what was happening to me. I called all over looking for the part but everything was either closed or too far away. The mechanic offered me his couch to sleep on for the night and told me, “It’s not the Ritz but its free and we can get your bike taken care of tomorrow.” He wasn’t kidding. His place was in the midst of being remodeled and I was basically sleeping outside. It was also in the middle of nowhere and I had no reception on my phone. Thankfully, I brought my sweater and pants to protect me from the mosquitos.
The next morning we went and picked up a trailer from his buddy and picked up my bike from the side of the road. He actually pulled his back out lifting it into the trailer and had to wear a back brace for about a week after, but he was still being so nice and helping me with a smile on his face. We dropped it off at his house and he took me with him out on his jobs for the day while we waited for my dad to wire me money and wait for the part to come into the bike shop in town.
He fixes cars and does odd jobs for a living. We stopped at farm so he could take pictures of a gulf cart he modified for a women that jumps horses for the Olympics. Now it can be used to pick up the horse dung all over her home track. I got to watch her practice because she was outside running the course on her horse for a while before moving on to his next job. I had never seen a horse doing jumps like this before! It was really neat watching her up close like that. I even helped set up some of her jumps.
As we headed back to his place he told me he had twenty-three chicken coops to build and he had seven left to build, so I helped him build the last seven. I had never made a chicken coop in my life! It was kind of fun really. Then again, living in the city, I had never seen a chicken up close and still alive. My chicken at home was deep fried and delicious, but I never got to see them alive like this. After we had gotten two of them done I received a phone call.
The part had arrived at the store, but my dad had not sent the money yet. We took the bike to get fixed and this amazing mechanic went ahead and paid for the part! I had to wait another three hours before my dad could send the money. We finished up the chicken coops while we waited. I had fun and made a new friend. On my way home I saw an amazing sunset that made it seem like I was chasing after the sun as it went down.
I still talk to the Mobil Mechanic. We sent friend requests on Facebook and he told me I am welcome to come back and stay anytime I want to get away from the city. I actually saw him again one morning as I was on my way home from work because I stopped at the gas station on the main road by his house. I came walking out of the store and I saw him talking to someone in a truck. When he saw me he stopped and got out of his truck to walk over and give me a hug. I will never forget the guy that showed me another side of Florida I didn’t know existed and helped me get home. This experience showed me that every day is an adventure in traveling, even in your own state.