Sometimes Bad Luck is Good Luck - Share Your Stories



Sometimes what seems like bad luck turns out to be good luck when you really take time to think about it. I was driving our 2002 Roadtrek Camper Van, pulling a trailer, from Lawrence, Kansas to Angel Fire, New Mexico, and then from Angel Fire to Alpine, Texas. The trailer was to pick up my BMW G310GS which had just blown the second engine.

Look at that route. There is an awful lot of area along that route that truly should be called the “Middle of Nowhere.” See, only for example, the 83 miles between Clayton and Springer, New Mexico or the 97 miles from Vaughn to Roswell, New Mexico, which stretch of roadway has only one single ranch house barely visible from the highway only if you are looking to see it.

So I was driving our 20 year old Dodge 3500 based Roadtrek camper van when the water pump self-destructed and the serpentine belt driving all of the engine accessories became a broken tangled mess. I heard this strange slapping noise and the steering suddenly became much more difficult. My first thought was I had shredded a tire. I slowed to a stop on the narrow shoulder right at a gravel cross road. I then made a left turn onto the gravel cross road to get the van and trailer off the narrow shoulder of US Highway 56. I checked the tires. They were all fully inflated. I opened the hood to discover the tangled shreds of the serpentine belt and a slightly overheated engine.

I called Voni who was visiting friends in Angel Fire to tell her I would not be getting there any time soon. We had a brand new policy with Good Sam Roadside Assistance which is actually Allstate RV coverage. She called them. They provided the information needed for us to be reimbursed if we went ahead and arranged our own tow. Meanwhile realizing where I was I made a couple of phone calls. I was one mile – yes one mile - from the intersection of US 56 and US 50 just east of Dodge City, Kansas.

I used my cell phone – yes I actually had cell phone coverage – to identify Lopp Motors, a Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge dealership in Dodge City. I called them. They could get me in immediately. They recommended a tow service so I called Bailey’s Auto Body and the wrecker arrived within ten minutes of my call. Yes, ten minutes, not a few hours as last time I needed a tow for a motorcycle in South Dakota. They towed me the 6.2 miles to the Dodge dealership. I have in the past been on hold listening to awful music from roadside assistance call centers longer than that all took to get me to the dealership, not to mention the hour or two until the call center and “George” (a mythical fraudulent being at a call center) in Mexico City called back and said they couldn’t find a wrecker for me.

This was all late in the afternoon but Lopp Motors got the van into the shop anyway. They then provided me with a loaner car to get around until the van was fixed. Yes! A loaner Chrysler minivan, courtesy of the dealership until they fixed my van. I went to a motel we have stayed at several times traveling through Dodge City. The next morning they determined that it wasn’t just the belt. They identified the worn-out water pump as the real culprit. But they got the part and got me going the next day.

Had I had this failure a few hours or miles later I might have had no cell phone coverage, a 50 or more mile ride to town with a Good Samaritan to call somebody, a similar hitch hiked ride back to the broken-down van, and then if lucky a three hour minimum wait for a wrecker and a 50 or 100 mile or longer tow to the nearest mechanic of any reasonable competence.

So breaking down could easily be considered bad luck. But I do believe that where it happened was very good luck. And the service from the dealership and tow service was spectacularly good. I wind up with very little to complain about.