IT’S NOT THE kind of road trip Jed Jacobson enjoys making, but a necessary one.
A Christmas day drive alone from his home in Ann Arbor to his home in Harvey. He does it every year. He has family in both towns so he spends Christmas Eve with his elderly mother and his siblings in Ann Arbor, then wakes up on Christmas morning, jumps into his Range Rover and heads north for a Christmas day party with the rest of his family.
A six and a half hour drive. ETA is generally about 3 pm.
On this past Christmas day, he was making great time downstate on the mostly empty highways, crossed the Mackinac Bridge at 12:30, sped west on US-2…and then between the Cut River Bridge and Epoufette, the screen on the Range Rover’s dashboard suddenly lit up like a light show–“Low tire pressure!” “ABS brakes are out!” “Overheating!” “The hood is up!”
A massive electrical failure.
And the car suddenly jammed into first gear.
Jacobson pulled over to the side of the highway and got out to check whether, in fact, the hood had not been shut.
He closed the car door as he got out. With the key in the ignition. And the engine still running.
Went back and checked the hood. Nope, it was fine.
Got back in…No, he tried to get back in the car but the door was locked. All of the doors were locked.
And he was outside in his shirt sleeves in 25 degree weather. On a road where, on this Christmas day, cars came by maybe every ten minutes.
Oh, one more thing. His cell phone was also locked inside the car, looking out at him, mocking him.
Merry frickin’ Christmas.
Jacobson, muttering under his breath and rubbing his hands together for warmth, knew he wasn’t close to any town so he decided to stand out in the middle of the highway and wait for the next passing car.
A few minutes later, a motorist stops. Thank God! A man alone in his pickup.
Jacobson (sheepishly): “Hey, thanks for stopping. I’m locked out of my car and my phone’s in there and I need to make a call to have someone come pick me up. Do you suppose I could use your phone to make that call?”
Motorist (suspiciously): “Uh…sorry….No. You’ll have to ask the next person.”
He drives off. Jacobson mutters under his breath again, rubs his hands together for warmth again, and waits for another vehicle.
Ten long minutes later, the next one arrives. A pickup with a young couple in the front, and their young son in the back.
Same question: Can I just make a phone call?
Answer: Sure, climb in the truck, use our phone, get warm.
Jacobson introduces himself, gratefully climbs into the heated truck, and makes his phone call to Harvey to ask his UP family to call Triple A. Which they do and they also send a driver out to come rescue him.
It’s all arranged. The tow truck is on the way.
Jacobson (smiling) to the young couple: “Okay, thanks a lot. I really appreciate you stopping. I’ll just get out and wait for the tow truck.”
The mother: “Oh no, we’re not going to leave you out here without a jacket. We’ll wait with you.”
The father: “No, we’re waiting. You’d do the same for us if we needed help.”
Jacobson doesn’t argue. He sits there and talks with them and their son who’s playing with his Legos–a Christmas present he had received that morning at Grandma’s. They were returning to their home in Cooks when they ran into the unlucky stranger on the road.
They wait–the four of them in a pickup parked on the side of the road on Christmas afternoon.
Jacobson apologizes for the inconvenience. They assure him it’s fine, their son is contented with his Legos, and there’s nothing wrong with making a new friend on Christmas.
An hour passes. The tow truck arrives, hooks up the Range Rover, and offers Jacobson a ride into St. Ignace where he’ll wait in comfort for his rescuer from Harvey to arrive.
He thanks the couple repeatedly, offers them money for their inconvenience and they, of course, refuse. He can do nothing but wave goodbye as the mom, the dad, and their son head home to Cooks to enjoy the rest of their Christmas day.
Jacobson is picked up two hours later, and makes it back to Harvey after dark. Late for the party but home at last.
A Christmas day not easily forgotten because of a wretchedly malfunctioning Range Rover, a cold and lonely highway, and a family of three who gave him comfort when he most needed it.
Postscript: Jacobson is having the Range Rover repaired in Ann Arbor (no dealers in the U.P.), then he’s going to sell it, and buy a Chevy.
You got news? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org