journal 9/29, Anchorage, Alaska
A half-mile from the airport, shifting from 2nd to 3rd, I felt the tranny linkage go… the shifter flopped loose in my hand, unable to grab any gears. I got to the shoulder and said, “Guys, I think I can fix this, but I need 30 minutes… you better call a cab or start thumbing.” We snapped a few last photos, capping their 3-day surprise visit, then I was alone on Anchorage airport road, just like that. I opened the GoWesty package with the replacement part - the 3rd time they’ve saved my ass - and laid down with all sorts of traffic whizzing by. I tried not to get too much grease on my face or hands or arms, but failed quickly and knew I wouldn’t be clean for another week. A car stopped behind… “Hello, I’m Officer Something… are you okay?” said his voice from the light. I pulled myself from under the dark rig. “Well, I had a problem… think I just fixed it, but I gotta test it.” I walked to the driver’s seat while he gave my van the official shakedown… my fault for leaving both side doors open. But I had nothing to hide, and so I pushed the shifter into the new-feeling 1st, eased through the friction point, and there it was… forward movement!! “Think we’re good,” I told the blond cop. “Nice work,” he said, probably the last compliment I would ever receive from the Law. He mumbled some codewords into his talkie and I reached out my hand… why a handshake? I don’t really know, guess I was excited to have just made my first repair in the field, and this cop was the only one around to celebrate with.