Today (3/26/15) started out early with the need to get our Chinese friends taken care of.  They had called last night with the decision to scrap the car and ride back with a friend from Alabama who had rented a car to come pick them up.  To be honest, we were a bit disappointed they would not be spending the next few days with us!

We awoke early (well aware that our late nights and early mornings were catching up to us) and headed down to the hotel to pick up our new friends to take them to arrange the details of the sale.  I had been a bit nervous when I looked up Carr’s Auto Sales and Service and a negative review came up.  However, in his “negative report,” this man mentioned how Carr’s sent someone to Florida to tow his car back to Tennessee to fix the problem.  He claimed this was to cover up shoddy workmanship, but the condition his “expert” described his transmission being in would have rendered the car impossible to drive even one day, much less 6 months.  For his one negative review, there were countless others sharing tales of how the owners had gotten out of bed to come out at midnight to help get their car out of a perilous situation or that they always stopped here for a check-up while on vacation.  It definitely restored my confidence, as did their help today.

Saying good-bye to the car--Thanks, Carr's!

Saying good-bye to the car–Thanks, Carr’s!

We collected our friends, asked if they had the paperwork, and proceeded to the shop–only to learn they had no idea what the correct paperwork was, and therefore, did NOT have it.  So, we headed back to their motel and looked through their stack of car documents to eventually find the RIGHT paperwork.  I remember a friend of mine telling me the biggest need her Mexican immigrant friends had was someone to help them know what they needed to know–to understand the process of how we do things in America.  I’m so glad we were at the right place at the right time, but what about the countless others who don’t  have someone there?  It was a wake up call for me to be more aware in my own community of those who might not know how to accomplish things.

We proceeded to complete the transaction with Carr’s.  The receptionist not only gave us the best possible scrap price for the car, but also gave her 1/3 of the money in cash up front–the rest to be sent when the title is mailed to them.  She did this simply because “this is a bad situation, and I don’t want her to have nothing to go home on.”  Additionally, one of the mechanics took time to ask her how to pronounce her Chinese name, actually say it correctly, and say, “It’s nice to meet you.  I’m so sorry it turned out like this.”  Just these little acts of kindness reminded me how often we get so stuck in our own business to be accomplished that we forget to take time for others.  If there’s anything I should have learned in my stay in Tennessee, it’s to slow down a little and enjoy the ride–hard to do for a Chicagoland resident.

Saying good-bye after making the best of a traumatic experience

Saying good-bye after making the best of a traumatic experience

We said farewell to the car, and headed back to pick up the rest of the group.  We made a side trip to our condo (to explain how a condo is different from a hotel), and headed to a Chinese restaurant for lunch where they gave us the special blessing of treating us.  One thing I had noticed the night before is that one of the ladies would always pull out a chair for my mom.  These little tokens of respect are too often lost in our culture. Throughout our time, we had the opportunity to learn so many interesting things about China.  When we were discussing family, we shared that my sister has seven children.  The lady who’s car we had just sold shared that she only had her one son–China’s one child policy.  One of the other students with them was from a family with two girls and a boy–they live in the country and were able to have more children due to family connections rather than a fine.

Rainclouds moving in

Rainclouds moving in

We also discussed the thing they missed the most from China–the food.  When  we got to the Chinese restaurant, I asked the boy if it was like the food at home.  He said Chinese food is more spicy, but they’ve made it sweeter for Americans.  We Do like our sweet things.  The hardest thing for them to get used to in America?   The culture.  One woman shared her fear of doing something wrong.  We explained that as a whole, American’s are remarkably helpful and forgiving–and we’re also incredibly diverse.  Finally, it was time for them to return to Alabama.  We were sad indeed that we were losing more time with these dear people, but after hugs, promises to keep in touch, grateful thanks, and invitations to visit China, they headed for home.  (We just got the text that they made it safely!)

We went home to catch up on our sleep.  I awoke to the rain clouds moving in over the mountains.  Since tomorrow promises to be a rainy day, we’ll see if we venture out or just enjoy a quiet last day in Tennessee at our “home away from home.”  Either way, I’m glad our plans changed to help out some dear new friends from China–we’re definitely richer for the opportunity!