In Our Own Backyard.... 'I am woman, hear me roar!'
I've always considered myself something of a liberated woman. After all, I grew up in the Sixties and Seventies, during the days of the women's lib movement, Gloria Steinem and bra burning (don't worry, Mom - I'm not that liberated!). I can capab...
I've always considered myself something of a liberated woman. After all, I grew up in the Sixties and Seventies, during the days of the women's lib movement, Gloria Steinem and bra burning (don't worry, Mom - I'm not that liberated!). I can capably manage my own bank accounts, check my credit score online, caulk the seams on the tub, contact my senator at the drop of a hat and hold my own on most any subject at a cocktail party.
But I'll be darned if I don't turn into a blithering idiot when it comes to dealing with car trouble. I'm not proud to admit it. In fact, I hate that I'm that way because I drive my car several hundred miles a week. My car and I are nearly inseparable - that is, until something goes wrong.
One memorable morning on the way to work, one of the trouble lights came on in my dashboard. As soon as I glanced down and saw it, I froze. I had never seen it illuminated before, and I had no idea what it meant. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road, paged frantically through my owner's manual and finally called a local auto mechanic. He asked me to describe just what the light looked like, and I told him it was shaped something like a fat goldfish. I could almost hear the grin on his face over the telephone line, as he patiently explained that it was my emissions light and that I had likely failed to completely tighten my gas cap last time I pumped gas.
Another time, I dashed out of the house on my way to work one morning, only to find one of my tires was almost completely flat. Since we live 35 miles out of town, that was nothing short of a catastrophe. And once again I began to lose my cool, sensing all of my carefully laid plans for the day quickly going by the wayside. I knew that I had one of those "doughnut" spare tires somewhere in my trunk, but I wasn't sure exactly where it was hidden, and I had no faith in the fact that I would even remember how to change one. Thankfully, my husband was there to save me, and by then I was in such a hurry that I didn't really pay attention to how he actually changed the tire.
This past Monday really took the cake, however. My car had been sitting in our unheated garage for two days over the weekend, and when I went to start it that morning as I prepared to leave for work, the turn of the key was greeted with only a clicking sound. My husband had left on a business trip to St. Paul earlier that morning, and I knew most of the neighbors were already on their way to work.
Mentally, all I could think about was the fact I wouldn't be at the office in time for the 9 a.m. morning meeting, I had phone calls to make, appointments to schedule, stories to write - and most likely a dead battery. I desperately called my husband, though I knew he was too far away to be of much help. He suggested a call to emergency road service, particularly in case the problem was due to more than just a dead battery, such as a bad starter or alternator.
To make matters worse, the emergency road service guy said it would be up to an hour and a half before he could get there. When he finally showed up, he jumped out of the tow truck almost merrily, despite the fact the thermometer was showing 16 degrees below zero.
"Saaaaaay, that's quite a deck you have on your house!" he exclaimed. "You must love living way out here!"
I told him that most days we did - but today was not one of those days.
I expected him to maneuver his truck around by the garage so he could hook jumper cables to my battery, but instead he pulled out a little portable battery charger pack and walked straight into the garage.
"Just jump on in and unlatch the hood," he said. "This shouldn't take long at all!"
I slid behind the wheel and suddenly drew a blank. He must have recognized my hesitation and hastened to "remind" me where the little latch was to release the hood.
And true to his word, he had the battery fired up within about 20 seconds and my car purred to a start.
"You might want to get that battery changed next time you're in town," he suggested. "It looks like it's put in its time."
I stopped on my way to work, had a new battery installed and then called an auto mechanic and made an appointment to have the rest of the car looked at.
Gloria Steinem would have been proud.