The Prophecy of the Broken Down Car

“The three givens in life: Death, taxes and a broken down car on the side of I-55 in Holmes County.” Sparky Reardon

Angels are with me. And they guided me as I zoomed up I-55 yesterday afternoon.

So here’s the story: I was running late (as usual) as I drove to Booneville, Mississippi to be the speaker for the Prentiss County Development Association annual banquet. My contact had told me to be there by 5:45 — and my car’s GPS said I’d make with time to spare.

I felt joy.

And then I felt no joy.

The warning light lit up on my dashboard. It read “Emissions System Problem” as the car went into limp mode (it downshifted so it wouldn’t drive faster than 50. I put it in neutral, coasted up the off-ramp and felt my stomach sink as the car slowed. I turned off the ignition as my head began to spin.

What now?

One thing was for sure — I had become the prophetic car broken down in Holmes County that Sparky told me about.

I restarted the car. Light was still on. Damn damn double damn. Then I started to panic. How would I make it to Booneville (a three and a half hour drive)? I took a breath and started thinking about what I needed to do. I needed to call a wrecker. The folks at the PCDA. Patty Peck Honda. My wife. The car is out of warranty, so I started panicking about the cost. Then I took another deep breath to prioritize what I needed to do by what would take the longest. Number one was to get a wrecker on the way. I couldn’t get to Booneville without another form of transportation — whether it be a loaner car or our van. I called Patty Peck and told them what happened. Jennifer (my awesome service advisor) spoke to the service department to speculate what it might be. I turned on the car again.

The light was off.


I told Jennifer that I was going to drive it on the backroad to see if it would run. It did. No light. I called and cancelled the wrecker and had Amy meet me in Canton. The car ran smoothly and made it to Canton. Whew. She then took it to the dealer, got a Honda Fit as a loaner and headed home. I loaded books in the van and started the long journey to Booneville.

Did I make it? You’re darn right I did. I walked in right before it was time for me to speak.

Like I said, angels are with me. And they continued to be with me as I dodged deer on the way home. My head hit the pillow at 1:44 a.m. I dreamed of warning lights and deer.

I pray the glitch is nothing expensive to fix. But I am so grateful I was able to get the car to the repair shop without a $200 wrecker bill. And I am grateful I was able to honor my speaking commitment and the kind folks at the PCDA were so understanding. I’m also grateful that Amy was able to shuffle her deck around and let me have her van.

Have I mentioned I am grateful?

After I got the van, I passed the exit where I pulled off. Right beyond it was another broken down car — in Holmes County, of course. Maybe there can only be one at a time and that’s why my car mysteriously fixed itself. Maybe that’s part of the prophecy. I really don’t know for sure.

I’ll have to ask Sparky.

P.S. I spoke in the Frank Haney Union on the Northeast Mississippi Community Campus. One person told me that the spot was a few feet from where the dean’s old residence used to live — which is where Malcolm White grew up. I was on hallowed ground!

About Marshall Ramsey