Where were you and what were you doing on the evening of August 6th, 2011? If this helps, it was a Saturday night. Chances are you don’t remember. For you, this was likely just another weekend. Not so for me and mine. We shall mark that date as “The Night We Were Stranded On The Border.” Let me explain.
My wife, son and I were vacationing, enjoying a week of rest in Maine, when we determined to go up into Canada. We’d spent the money on passports, and we thought, “Why not use them?” So we set out North, in the winding, Maine-road-sort-of-way, and up RT 27 through the border check-point at Corbin Gore. In Canada we did the proper, touristy things. We ate at McDonald’s and looked for a Wal-Mart. (All of the things one could NEVER do back in the good ol’ USA.) Having properly satisfied our wanderlust, we bid Quebec “Bon soir” and turned back for native soil.
Just in case you’ve never been through a border crossing, especially post-9/11, I’ll explain the procedure as we experienced it. When you pull up to a border crossing there are all sorts of signs in all manner of languages informing you exactly what you are about to do and what is expected of you. That is to say, you are about to interact with a Border Agent, and you’d best not mess with him (or her, I suppose.) Duly warned, we proceeded to the first stop-area. A signal light holds you there until the interrogation area is clear. Receiving a green indicator, we pulled forward. The Agent asks you to turn off your car and begins quizzing you about where you went, what you did and what you are bringing back with you. If you pass and are deemed worthy of entrance, you may restart you vehicle and proceed. This was the beginning of our troubles.
Our car would not start.
All of a sudden the stand-offish Border Agent became our best friend. He left his interrogation box and came out to see if he might be able to turn the key in a different way so as to coax our car into starting. He opened the hood and stared at the engine in an intimidating manner – as only armed persons can – as if to threaten our engine into starting. The starter, unmoved by either of these attempts, remained dead. Since we were blocking all entrance into the USA on RT 27, we were forced to push the car out of the way into a parking slot.
Our new friend, Agent Bates invited us inside the Border Station. I warily accepted, noting the Agent’s name and its infamy in Hitchcock film lore. Hopefully, we were not to be spending the night with him. We didn’t realize at that time that God was already beginning to provide for our need.
I used their telephone to call the American Auto Association (AAA.) The girl who took my call and I were in “the same boat.” I couldn’t tell from where she was answering, and she had no idea from where I was calling. “Corbin Gore?” She said, “That’s not on my map.” Map or no, that’s where we were stranded. She was going to have to call “dispatch” in Maine. They would get back to me.
A half hour later, I was told that our rescue was on his way. Now would be a good time to mention that, in all of my conversations with AAA, I had told them that I was broken down at the border-crossing, my car wouldn’t start, and I needed a tow-truck. “He’ll be along in about an hour,” I was told. So we waited.
Ninety minutes later a Ford, F-150 pickup truck pulled up to the Border Station.
“That’s what they sent you?” Asked Agent Bates. His partner chimed in with the obvious, “That’s not a tow-truck.”
The service man sent by AAA jumped out of his truck with a “starter-battery-pack” gadget in hand and said, “Who needs a jump start?” Ummm… Not me!
I was beginning to lose all hope on that dark, Saturday night of either a prompt return to our hotel room or a sound nights sleep. Both of those I considered requisites for my preaching at Vi’s father’s church the next day. It was then that “AAA man” developed a plan. (In the despair of those hours I never got to know that man’s name.) Our rescuer decided that he would take us twenty miles South to the nearest outpost of civilization.
“Is there anyone you can call to meet us there?” He asked. We called Vi’s mother and arranged for pick up at Eustis, Maine (population 685.) Our rescuer and his three stranded passengers all piled into his pickup. Along the way, our rescuer made an insightful observation.
“You know,” he said, “Those AAA folks didn’t say anything about there being three of you stuck at the border. My tow-truck only seats two. If I’d have brought that there wouldn’t have been room for everyone. It’s a good thing there was this sort-of-a mixup.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
Praying that your trips are much less exciting… unless you’re looking for a good story to tell.