Day 10: Bad News Turns into Good News


When I last wrote we had been marooned in Victorville. The Harley was in the shop getting its clutch fixed and we were only 90 miles out of LA. Before the incident I had actually planned to keep driving all the way into LA that night so as to surprise my daughter Hannah by showing up a day early. That wasn’t going to happen now, so we made the best of it.

Jeff and I walked down to a shop and bought some snacks and drinks. Later, we holed up in the hotel room and watched TV, mainly a rerun of the first Lord of the Rings films. The next morning we got a call from Matt the service manager at the Harley dealership.

“Good news and bad news.” He said. “The good news is that we have the parts for the clutch and we can get it done for you today.”

“And the bad news?” It turned out that the bad news was the cost, which I won’t mention. But there was more bad news. There was a leak in …are you ready for this? The shift shaft seal.  I kid you not. Say that quickly three times.

“What’s the shift shaft seal about?” I asked

“Well, it leaks oil which can get on your chain or belt or your tire and cause you to have a bad accident. It’s not safe.”

“Can you fix it?” The answer was yes. I told him to go ahead.

“The last of the bad news.” He continued.

“There’s more?”

“Yep. You have a stripped shifter shaft lever and stripped shifter shaft.”

“Of course I do!” I laughed. “Let me get this straight: “I have a problem with the shifter shaft seal, a stripped shifter shaft lever and a stripped shifter shaft.”

“You got it.”

“I don’t even know what I’m saying!”

“What?”

“So what are we talking about?” I asked.

He told me the cost. I sat down, caught my breath and I told him to go ahead.

A few hours later, Jeff and I were at the Harley dealership picking up the bike. They had cleaned all the road dirt and muck off her and she looked beautiful. It would be nice to drive up to see my daughter in a pretty bike. I didn’t mind paying the bill. These things happen. Besides, if my clutch hadn’t gone they wouldn’t have discovered the more serious problem which, if uncaught, could have been “curtains” for me. Hard to tell the good news from the bad.

Jeff and I headed out from Victorville. I glanced at the street where my bike had broken down. For the first time I noticed that the name of the street was La Paz, which in English means “peace”.

We rode into LA that afternoon. The traffic was heavy and Jeff took a wrong turn. I figured he did that just so I could see Hannah first by myself. Jeff’s thoughtful that way.

It was great to see my daughter again and my wonderful son-in-law, Bill Taylor.

What do I make of all this? After crossing the Mojave Desert the bike breaks down at the Harley Davidson exit. A guy stops to help me and it turns out he’s the service manager at the Harley dealership. We get the bike over to the dealership  and it turns out that there’s a party going on! Hot rods, old Harleys, food and music. There’s a hotel within walking distance we can stay at and I avoid having to drive into LA on a Friday night.

The bike has a burned out clutch but it reveals a more serious, dangerous problem I hadn’t noticed.  Coincidence? I don’t know. Is there such a thing? Coincidence conspires against us, for us. I remember an old saying: Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

I hug my daughter and son-in law. Twenty minutes later Jeff rolls in.

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