“Dad, why don’t we call a friend?”
Broken down on a country road… after dark… eighteen degrees, windy. Susan took the ‘good’ car, we took the pickup. A 1995 Dodge Dakota. It’s fun to drive around town, but you don’t want to rely on it—on a country road, after dark, when it’s really cold.
“Dad, why don’t we call a friend?” This is Sophie. She has a cell phone; I don’t. She’s carrying our salvation, our rescue. Our means of calling a tow truck. And a ride. In her hand, Sophie has our way out of the cold, our way to get back home.
“Dad, why don’t we call a friend?”
“Because I don’t have any friends.” There’s no one. No one I can call to help my children and me. I don’t know any phone numbers. Really, I don’t know any people. Susan’s parents are out of town. Jillian used to be a pretty good friend, but she’s not home. She’s at a school event. The one I’m supposed to drop Sophie off at right now. And I don’t know her number anyway.
If things were reversed, if any of my many acquaintances called me, my response would be “Don’t you have any friends you can call?” Maybe I wouldn’t say that out loud, but certainly in my head. I guess I’d help them out, but then I’d gossip about it afterwards—with my friends… if I had any friends.
I once heard a story about a story about my college girlfriend, Lori. Her fiancé asked eight groomsmen to stand at his wedding. Lori asked a few friends, but her options quickly became thin. She called up her friend Julia to see if she would be one of the bridesmaids. Deep into the conversation, Julia interrupted, “Wait, who is this?”
Me: “Hey Joe, we’re broken down on 116. Do you think you could help us out?”
Joe: “Jeff who?”
This didn’t happen. We took the trip. We have that truck. The bit about the phones is accurate. So is the wedding story. But we didn’t break down. We made it to our destination, and we made it back to the school to drop Sophie off. But for the entire ride, this break-down scenario played out over and over in my head. Probably time to restart therapy.
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