The wisdom discount
Trials and tribulations of a summer road trip gone awry

The wisdom discount
David Feela - 11/02/2023

The young man at a Montrose Arby’s surprised me with a comment as he tallied our food order. He said, “I’ll just give you the wisdom discount.” My good ear did a double-what? After we sat down, I realized a wisdom discount must be a courteous way to offer a senior citizen discount without having to count your wrinkles. I’m glad I didn’t ask him to repeat what he said. Because despite being a certified senior, I’d probably have added that wisdom doesn’t always come with age.  

This sage encounter actually started the day before. We’d set up our tiny Scamp atop Lizard Head Pass, to escape a Four Corners’ heat wave. Before leaving home Monday, Pam reminded me of a Thursday appointment. I said, “Oh yeah, I forgot, must be dental denial, but we’ve got plenty of time.”

We slept comfortably that night, even dug out an additional blanket as the overnight low dipped to 37 degrees. Early Tuesday morning, we drove through Ridgway on our way to breakfasting in Montrose, trying out a new restaurant where the food unfortunately only qualified as marginal, but at least the bathroom was clean.

Next we visited some thrift stores, which didn’t pose a problem, because I assumed we owned this worry-free day. Three thrift stores later, I proposed it might be sensible to head back to the trailer. I cranked up the AC, and we headed back toward Lizard Head.

Passing through Ridgway once more, we noticed the Humane Society thrift was open, so we stopped. I picked what I thought to be a lucky spot near the door, and we went inside, totally unaware that over 24 hours would elapse before I ever heard a peep from our engine again. 

Story details developed into tedious paragraphs might explain what happened after leaving the thrift store, but let me simplify with a loose list of sequential events. I’ll use frowny and smiley faces so you don’t get queasy on this emotional roller coaster.

1) Engine wouldn’t start ... dashboard report: “Braking power low ... stop in safe place ... see owner’s manual”... computer glitch? :-( but how clever of me to have parked before the message appeared :-)  

2) Called only repair shop in Ridgway that answered phone ... willing to look at vehicle :-) no, we don’t have a tow truck :-(

3) Talked with owner of Busted Knuckle in Montrose ... willing to tow vehicle to Ridgway repair shop :-) presently working on Grand Mesa, four hours away :-( 

4) Called Apex Towing ... owner of another Montrose towing service, said he could leave shortly, about a half hour :-) 

5) Called Busted Knuckles back ... no cell service ... sent text to cancel appointment, fingers crossed he’d get it :-(

6) Called Montrose Toyota dealer ... yes, happy to look at vehicle :-) but shop closes in hour :-(

7) Apex Towing loads vehicle ... says it might just be battery, which Pam mentioned over an hour ago ... towed to Montrose :-) 

8) Arrived before closing :-) correct battery not in stock :-( orders it :-) should arrive tomorrow :-( 

9) Walked in scorching heat to nearest motel ... completely booked :-( noticed the Busted Knuckle tow truck idling next to parking lot ... Daniel invites us into air-conditioned cab ... calls other motels, drives us, makes our toes happy :-)

10) 8 a.m., Wednesday morning, walk back to dealer ... no battery delivered yet :-( invited to sit in waiting room where cold water and fresh coffee flow :-) 

11) By 1 p.m. battery installed ... vehicle running :-) paid bill :-( thanked staff and exited Montrose, again :-)  

The vehicle ran well, but my confidence had been shaken. We just drove, never turning the engine off, even on Lizard Head while I hitched the trailer to the vehicle. All the way back to Cortez, I wondered if anything else could happen, and not until I’d backed into our driveway and situated the trailer two inches from the garage door did we sigh and sit a long moment, listening to the silence.

Thursday morning I woke early, brushed my teeth and walked to my 8 a.m. dental appointment. The dentist asked me to open wide and looked carefully inside. “Tell me if this hurts,” he said as he tapped the back row of teeth like a xylophone, but I felt no pain, except my lower jaw ached, as if I’d been grinding my teeth all night.

“Nothing serious” he finally announced, “except a filling came loose that needs to be replaced.” 

“Which tooth?” I sputtered.

He tapped the back molar again, and I swear these were his exact words: “This one, your old wisdom tooth.” 

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