Last week, my car got towed. The starter died on me, and the engine wouldn’t turn over. So I called Triple AAA. They got me a tow truck at 7 a.m., driven by a bandana-clad urban cowboy with a fervent love of country music, classic cars, and motorcycles.
It was a two day process: my car initially died Sunday afternoon, after a weekend-long visit with my family. Luckily, I had just stopped for gas on the side of a road as my family hit the road, and they were able to turn around and give me a jump. I made it back to Evanston that night, but the next morning, the engine wouldn’t turn over. So, I called Triple AAA and they sent a service vehicle, but Tony couldn’t figure out why the engine wouldn’t start even though he had given me another jump. After an hour of tinkering with the wires under the dashboard and the battery, he gave up and called me a tow. Unfortunately, the wait was over 2 hours (apparently, there is such thing as “tow truck rush hour,” between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m.), and I was advised to call the next morning.
So, as I sat in my Buick just after dawn the next day, waiting for a tow, I prayed that Jesus would send me a Jesus tow truck man. I was too tired and stressed to deal with anything other than a rock-solid, Christian dude that early in the morning.
I smiled when the Illinois tow truck pulled up and out stepped Keith, a USA-bandana-clad tow truck man who walked with a purpose.
“So, Minnesota plates, huh?" Keith said as he hooked up the tow. "A woman I dated once went up there and had five kids. Then, she became a drug addict and an alcoholic.”
I couldn't see any huge cross tattoos anywhere on his ink'd up self, and wasn't sure what to do with that statement, but I figured God knew what he was doing, so I started to talk back.
“Wow,” I replied. “Sounds like she would have been better off with you!”
“Maybe,” he chuckled. “But I’m not so sure about that.”
We then had a lively chat about how much he misses Florida, where he used to live with two horses on a hobby farm. He used to drive an ATV before he moved up to Chicago with his dad and stepmom, who got sick and needed medical help in the Windy City, where his two stepbrothers lived. She’s doing better now, five years later.
“I hate the city,” Keith said with disdain. “I’m a cowboy."
As we rode to the auto shop, we listened to Toby Keith and Garth Brooks on Chicago’s country music station. I found out he has played drums since he was a kid, has a fervent love of country music, Marlboros, motorcycles and vintage cars. He got his start in a band at church. The group broke off to form a band then broke up several years later. According to Keith, the keyboard player was a Barbie.
“No, really. She dressed up like Barbie. And she had long blonde hair too,” Keith said. “But when she found me on Facebook a couple years back, she’d chopped off all that hair and saw the dark side, just like me. She hasn’t been back since.”
So, when Keith asked who I knew around here, I said I had a pretty solid church group, and he responded with disdain:
“Lord have mercy! You ain’t one of those church-going girls, are ya? Dear Jesus, why you gotta do this to me??”
He shook his head and continued, telling me about his mother who's a southern Baptist preacher who just called him the other day to say she’s worried about him, and thinks he should reconsider his life and choices.
I took it all in, then asked if he'd ever consider going back to church - maybe even at Willow Creek, where I go, and where the "High Road Riders" motorcycle gang pulls in every Sunday morning.
"But, those church folk don't drink or get high!" Keith said.
"They could use a personality like yours," I said, as I thanked him and told him a bit more about them as he set me up at the shop. "Think about it."
And he smiled as he got back in his truck, and I smiled as I walked away, knowing that, as a result of that encounter, God is a bigger fan of adventure than routine - maybe I'll see Keith around the halls of Willow Creek, at the next Toby Keith concert, or maybe even later, in heaven - it would be a pretty boring place without him.