Dateline: June 25, 2014
Today’s story features my wife of nearly 40 years and her faith and unwavering optimism.
The story actually began on the morning of Saturday, June 21 when we were receiving our orientation to the features of the motorhome. We had to sign off on a paper that showed our agreement that all of these specified components were in good working order. One of the items on that list was the glass plate inside the microwave. The RV rental guy had asked E to open the microwave and look at the plate. He told us to be sure that whenever we open the microwave after driving, we be prepared to keep that plate from falling out because it jumps around inside the microwave while traveling. He told us that he would charge us $50 if we broke the plate. He told us that they are really hard to find in order to replace them, and the $50 was supposed to deter us from being careless. OK. Fine. I get it. Watch for the plate when you open the door.
After no more than 5 minutes of driving on that Saturday, I made a left turn, and I heard a giant crash from behind me. E looked back and told me that the microwave door had opened. When I stopped at a light, she went back to check things out. She reported to me that the plate had flown out and had broken. I was dumbfounded. I was angry. I was frustrated. Evidently, after E had opened the door in response to the rental guy’s instructions, it hadn’t closed properly. It looked latched, and it sounded latched. But evidently, you have to really SLAM this microwave door to get it to latch. If the guy hadn’t told us to open the microwave, this never would have happened. Over the next couple of hours I kept stewing about this on-and-off until I finally decided to let it go. E had a different approach. She started thinking about ways we could replace the plate. She got the idea of going to a thrift store, like a Goodwill or Salvation Army store. She said that she has seen microwave plates in places like these. I pointed out that this was a specific model of microwave and that the plates probably weren’t very interchangeable.
When we got to the campground on Saturday I looked more closely at the plate. It was very specialized. It had three bumps sticking out in the center on the bottom. These three bumps fit exactly into a gear-like mechanism in the microwave, and this is what enables the plate to rotate while the microwave operates. I thought maybe I could duct-tape the plate back together, because it was mostly just broken into two big pieces. I did bring duct tape on this trip with us! I did manage to duct-tape the two pieces back together, but then E and I wondered if duct tape was safe to put in a microwave. By this time we were at a campsite with a cell signal, so I asked Siri if duct tape was safe in a microwave. Her results were pretty clear that there was no danger.
So – we gingerly tried out my repair. We put a potato in and nuked it for 30 seconds while watching closely to see if there were any sparks or smoke. Everything seemed fine. The tape seemed to hold up well too. Then we went ahead and cooked a bunch of potatoes, and again, all was well. Over the next couple of days we used it a couple more times. By yesterday the tape was beginning to get a little soft, and it wasn’t holding the pieces together solidly.
Today, as we were driving from Denali to Wasilla, E reminded me that she had seen three thrift stores in Wasilla on our way through the first time. I asked her if she was still thinking that we could replace this plate. She was a little non-committal. I told her that there was no way we were going to be able to replace this plate. It is a very specialized plate from an obscure manufacturer (Rival). I explained that any replacement would have to come from this exact same model of microwave. What I didn’t say was that the chances of finding such a plate were virtually impossible. She didn’t push me to stop at a thrift store, but I knew she wanted me to. We didn’t really have time to waste on such a fantasy, but I didn’t want to get into a big, stressful disagreement with her. So, I offered to stop at a thrift store if we could find one.
We needed to stop for gas in Wasilla. Gas prices were much higher in Alaska than I had anticipated. I paid $4.69 per gallon at a station just outside the park entrance. When we got to Wasilla I drove past a station with a price of $4.09. As good as that looked, it was the very first station in town, so I kept going. The next couple of stations were in the $4.12 range. So I did the unthinkable (for me). I turned around and backtracked a mile or so to get back to the $4.09 station. While I was pumping the gas, E went in and asked the attendant about a nearby thrift store. She came back and told me that almost right next door to the gas station was a huge thrift store. So, I drove us over, and in we went.
While I was poking around looking at a few different things (like a microwave), she was in the bakeware section. After a few minutes I caught up with her, and she had two glass plates that were from microwaves. One of them looked smaller than the one we needed, but the other looked about the right size. She turned it over, and it had the necessary three bumps. Holy cow! She thought it was too big, but I wasn’t so sure. I decided to go back out to the motorhome to retrieve the broken one so that we could compare them. When I brought it back in and matched them up, the fit was exact. It was a perfect match. Do you believe in miracles? Well, this was, in my opinion, a bona fide miracle. It may not have been a very big or meaningful one in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t change things at all. I looked at E and tears were leaking from her eyes. God had given her faith that He knew what we needed even before we ask. She had known that we were going to find this plate. When I saw her reaction, I began to find some moisture around my eyes as well. God loves my dear wife, and so do I. She is always this way. She always believes in the impossible. I don’t know how she does it, but that is simply who she is. I am a very blessed person to be able to spend my life with her.
Oh, and the price of the plate was $1.99. But – because today is Wednesday, and Wednesday is 20% discount day for senior citizens, we got the plate for a grand total of $1.60 plus tax. The only thing is, she wouldn’t let me put it into the microwave until we were returning the motorhome. So, I had to worry about it getting broken the rest of the trip!