“Oh man. No way. This can’t be happening.” we softly uttered as the engine seized…
Our band had been invited to play an event for a rock radio station in Philadelphia. We hadn’t played together in almost a year, we had no new material to showcase, some of us moved to other states and we would only be able to get one rehearsal in…we went for it. We missed each other and needed a excuse to play music together again. Besides, we are professionals right? We would all remember the lyrics, harmonies and parts after a hour of rehearsing right? Sure - it's like riding a bike - 'we got this' repeats over and over again in my head.
I landed back in Philadelphia to rehearse, caught up over some beers, packed up and we were on our way. Chris and I drove our ramshackle van full of equipment while the other guys went separately due to prior obligations. When we get together we think we are invincible and even at our age, which is closer to 30 that 20, we find ourselves reverting to our adolescent mindsets. Even the worst ideas seem probable after we all convince one another it's possible. Case in point - driving our band van, which is literally falling apart, 20+ miles to Philadelphia.
We got this...
Right before we departed there was a (very) quick conversation about the possibility of the van not making it. Back up plan? Nope. “She is going to make it! There is no other option!” We decided as we all raised a toast to the van that has gotten us around the world and back. “Here goes nothing.” Chris whispered in a moment of clarity “Okay Ol’ Trusty…all you have to do is get us there. We will take it from there.” caressing the steering wheel. I turn and place my hand on the dusty dashboard. "We got this."
There was traffic so we decided to make our into New Jersey and then cut back over into Philadelphia from there. This made sense if you were driving a vehicle that was well maintained and knew it was going to get your to your final destination. In our case though this was a tricky maneuver. If the van died in New Jersey we were screwed. We crossed the bridge from Delaware in to New Jersey and all was going well. As we had reached the crest of the bridge there was a loud, unnerving bang. Where did it come from? Chris and I side-glanced at each other. “Did you feel that?” I asked. “It’s nothing! Ol’ Trusty will get us there!” Chris responded and then it happened - the van shut off. Died. We were motionless at the crest of the bridge like a roller coaster at the top of its track. “No way!” We both barked “Start rocking forward and hopefully we can coast down the rest of the bridge!” We rocked and pushed and then she went. The centrifugal force and gravity started to pull us into New Jersey as we coasted with a dead van full of equipment. “Oh man! Do the brakes still work?” as I turn to Chris who is throwing an open container out the window. He responds “Man! This is probably an awful time to tell you that the van is uninsured!” We both scream held each other and pray for the best as we careened towards the garden state.
Frantically, Chris pumps the brakes as we whiz by a colorful "New Jersey Welcomes You" sign. We were running out of road fast as we see our lane was coming to an end. "Woo! The shit hit the fan quick on this one, baby!" Chris yells and he jerks the wheel steering us into another lane. I could see there was a fork in the road at the end of the bridge. "Aim for that shoulder man! If we can land there we'll be fine!" I point as I pull out my phone to document with a quick social media post...and to send to the rest of our band to keep them up to date with our current whereabouts. What? If we are going down like this I want social media to know we went out in glory. "Already ahead of you!" Chris responds as our ship starts to course correct towards the fork 's shoulder.
With a screech of the tires, a cloud of black road dust and a touch of luck we land on the shoulder of the road. We wipe the sweat from our brows and slowly turn to look at each other in awe. After a wide-eyed, jaw dropped pause of amazement we slowly crack smiles. "Holy shit! We did it!" Double checking my phone for the video playback. "Damn straight we did. Now, lets fix this beast." Chris motions to me exiting the drivers seat to pop the hood. In a few moments, along with a a lot of cursing, hitting the engine with hammers and readjusting battery connections we were back on the road.
The rest of the ride was steady besides a few pops and sputters. We made it to the venue in time to load in, sound check and grab a brew together. The show went on and we had a blast seeing all our family, friends and creating memories. See…like I said…we got this.