I have always relied upon my cousin Dane.
We grew up together. I’m a year older, but he’s the closest in age of my many cousins. Our families went camping together and bought a cabin up north together, and I’ve gotten into the habit of asking Dane for help whenever I’ve needed it, because Dane is the kind of guy who can be relied upon.
Dane works as a stage rigger and he’s the road manager for a band so he has to know a lot about a lot of things. He understands electrical gadgets of every kind. He knows how audio systems and lighting work. He is quiet and mechanical and practical and laid-back. His garage is the tidiest I’ve ever seen, with a tool of every kind, all neatly labeled.
He’s the kind of guy who sits back in a room and listens to everyone trying to solve a problem and, after they’ve exhausted themselves trying to figure something out, he’ll say, “You know, what you might try is…” And whatever he suggests, it will be exactly the right thing to do.
Because I have always relied on Dane, I didn’t think I could be surprised if someone said that Dane had come around to lend a hand. But last week, I was surprised.
My husband, Peter, and I were up visiting my parents while my sister, her husband and her son were on their way to California, camping along the way. My niece, Isabelle, is taking summer classes at the university and working at Target, so she stayed behind to watch the pets.
Isabelle called one night right before dinner.
“Did you hear what happened with the camper?” she said, a little breathless.
“What happened to the camper?” my mother wanted to know.
“It came right off the hitch! While they were on the freeway!”
“Oh, no!” my mother said.
“It did! But the chain caught it.”
I tried to imagine careening down the highway with a pop-up camper attached to the back of the car with only a safety chain. It sounded awful.
“But they got off to the side of the road to fix it. Then you’ll never guess what happened!”
“What?” my mother and father and Peter and I all wanted to know.
“Dane came and helped them get the camper back on!”
This made no sense at all.
My sister and her family were in Nevada. Dane lives approximately 1,800 miles away.
“Dane! He said he saw them pulled off to the side of the road and he stopped to help.”
I talked to Dane a little later on.
“You helped my sister with her camper — in Nevada?”
“Yup. About 30 miles out of Reno.”
“How does that happen? What are the odds of that?”
“I dunno. I was driving back from the show and I saw this camper pulled off the side of the road and I thought that looked like your sister, so I stopped.”
“You realize what the odds against something like that happening are? If you read that in a novel, you’d say it couldn’t happen.”
“Well, it’s not impossible, I guess.”
That was all Dane had to say. He helped them back onto the road and headed off in the opposite direction. I thought how lucky it was to have someone as helpful as Dane show up exactly when he was needed — as Dane is apt to do.
“That’s crazy,” I told Isabelle when I next saw her.
“It is crazy,” she agreed.
But not impossible, as Dane pointed out.
Till next time,
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