Best-laid Plans Gang Aft Agley

So my wife and I set out Friday afternoon for a beachside hotel in St. Petersburg for a 28th anniversary overnight getaway. Just past the Howard Frankland bridge, I noticed the air conditioner didn’t seem to be working. Then I noticed the temperature gauge was nearly pegged on “H.”

We pull off. Coolant tank is missing its cap, nothing in the reservoir. We buy coolant, jury-rig something to cover the top. Drive a little way, gauge still pegged. Manage to get to an auto parts store, but by now I’m thinking water pump.

We decide the prudent thing to do is have it towed to a local mechanic. Mind you, it’s now about 4:30 on Friday afternoon. Tow-truck driver recommends a mechanic and sure enough, the water pump is out. The heat had not only blown the top off the reservoir, it cracked it. So they give us a courtesy ride to a nearby motel, nowhere near the beach.

Twenty-four hours and $700 later, we go home, without having even seen the Gulf.

Fortunately, by this point in our marriage we take such things in stride. But it does remind me of Robert Burns’ famous line from his poem “To a Mouse”: “The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley.” Which in the Scots dialect means something like “go oft astray.”

These things are inevitable, and they can serve the useful purpose of reminding us that if we depend too much on our own powers and devices, we are going to be frustrated more often than not. I didn’t use to be very good about this, but I’m getting better. Evelyn has been a good influence.

Maybe that’s one reason we’re still married.

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