We had a very weird adventure last weekend.
So there we were, heading home from the family camp on Sunday at about 4:30pm when I hear a "clunk" at the back of the bus and look back in time to see a small "something" bouncing down the expressway behind us. It could have been from another vehicle and the engine was running fine so we kept driving but a couple of miles down the road the windshield fogged up and I could smell antifreeze so we pulled into the breakdown lane for a quick look. The power steering and power brakes had lost their power so I knew I had a problem with the serpentine belt.
Popping the hood revealed that the belt was fine but one of the idler pulleys on the tensioner had called it a day and bailed out. Fortunately we were near an exit with a gas station so we got off the road to decide what to do next.
I knew I could fix the thing with the tools I had with us but how to get that bloody part late on a Sunday afternoon? Just when we were about to call for a tow THIS GUY pulls up in a nasty, ratty old pickup truck, rolls down the window and says "I'm a mechanic. Can I give you a hand?" I said that he most certainly could so he had a look and said he could pick up the part and install it for $100 plus the part. It all sounded too good to be true so I went inside ostensibly to get us each a Mountain Dew and while in there slipped my carry pistol into my pocket. The guy called Autozone to reserve the part and asked if I could front him some cash to pay for it. I gave him $80 bucks for a $62 dollar part and off he went to pick it up. I'm generally a trusting person but the thought crossed my mind that he could just take the cash and head for the bar.
While he was gone I pulled off the engine cowling and about the time I had it off here he comes, part in hand. We proceeded to pop the thing in and check for collateral damage (apart from some nicked fan blades there was none). I gave the guy the hundred he'd asked for plus a nice tip and we talked about the bus and our conversion for a bit. Turns out that the guy would cruise up and down that stretch of the expressway looking for broken down vehicles. He would change tires, arrange for towing or fix stuff himself for (tax free) cash. Not a bad gig.
He was quite the jokester and yakked on and on but bottom line, from the time we broke down to the time we were repaired and on our way was about an hour.
Neither of us could believe our luck. Had we gotten towed we'd have probably spent the night in some repair shop's parking lot and paid twice as much for the fix. Instead, we got home just a bit later than we normally would have. The whole thing was surreal.