Sometimes Christ crops up in unexpected places.
Earlier this month, my family was preparing for a drive to Maine and we wanted to bring our bicycles. A mechanic at the local UHaul attached a hitch to our van. Then, we bought a five-bicycle rack at the bicycle shop where our son works. We loaded five bicycles onto the rack. About 6:30 p.m., a few hours before we were to head out of town, we noticed the loaded bike rack was nearly dragging on the road.
The manager at G.’s bike shop told us UHaul needed reattach the hitch and make sure all four bolts were in place. It was almost 7 p.m.
As I drove through rush-hour traffic toward UHaul, I told my son the franchise likely was closed, and if it wasn’t, the mechanics wouldn’t be willing to reinstall the hitch in time for our trip that night. “I don’t expect this to work out,” I told him. I wasn’t upset; I was trying to face the reality in front of me.
As we pulled into the UHaul lot, two employees were leaving for the night. One was literally locking the door. “We are heading out of town tonight and we need the hitch fixed,” I told them. As it turns out, one of the employees was the mechanic who had originally installed the hitch. “That’s defective,” he said when he eyed the hitch. “Pull your van around to the mechanic's bay."
He spent an hour reinstalling the hitch. I sat in the weed-filled parking lot, contemplating the situation in front of me as cars and trucks rumbled by on the interstate. Our sons were so excited about cycling in Maine; we had spent a lot of money on the hitch, on prepping the bikes, on helmets, and on the bike rack. Our younger son had borrowed a bicycle from a friend. So much was riding on this hitch. The mechanic easily could have told us to return the next day or that he would not fix it all. And yet, he stepped up and took time out of his evening to make things right.
After about an hour, the hitch was ready. The mechanic, Mark, helped my son load all the bikes back onto the rack. Mark told me he had felt badly about installing the hitch improperly. He explained that his boss had been shouting at him to hurry and he didn’t think two missing bolts would make such a difference. We tipped him, and we thanked him. "How could I not redo this?" he said. "I take pride in my work."