I drive a 1985 Dodge Aries K car (remember those?). It’s a two-tone . . .gray and rust . . . adorned with a subtle but effective bullet hole motif on the passenger side. The previous owner was also a bumper sticker fanatic, and I swear they’re the only things holding that heap together.
The first thing to go wrong was the exhaust system. I got in one morning, and after about two miles, the car filled with huge blue clouds of carbon monoxide.
Then the second thing went.
I desperately cranked (yes, manual windows—remember those?), but the handle went round and the window stayed shut. I leaned over and tried the passenger window, but it was jammed and the crank broke off in my hand.
Meanwhile, my life was flashing before my eyes which, adding insult to injury, was extremely depressing, and I was getting really sleepy. I pulled over and jumped out, sucking in the fresh air while smoke and fumes lazily drifted out the open door.
“Hey, dummy,” a polite passing motorist called, “don’t you know that smoking is hazardous to your health?”
He drove away, laughing.
I called the local garage to come round with the tow truck. Two hours later, I was back on the road again, $400 poorer, and had only covered a couple of miles in all that time.
At mile three, a blowout, bearing a startling resemblance to Krakatoa. I pulled over and got out to take a look.
“”Hey, don’t worry. It’s only flat on the bottom!”
It was the same guy. He drove off, laughing again. Well, I was glad I could bring a little joy into his life before I tracked him down and killed him.
If it’s one thing I know how to do, it’s change a tire. I had made sure that there was a spare and that it was in good shape before I bought the car, so I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed the jack, and fetched the spare. In truth, the spare was like new, unlike the collection of rubber streamers that my old tire had become.
Unfortunately, though like new, it was the wrong size for the car.
So, now filthier than Andrew Dice Clay’s mind with a mood rivaling Bea Arthur with PMS, I called the garage again.
“Well, hi there, Ms. Buckingham. Missed me, huh?”
Oh, God. Squiggy the Mechanic thinks I’m fabricating excuses to call him. After a short conversation (he asked me out, I said, “No.”), he sent the truck out once again.
Thirty minutes later, I resumed my journey . . . and for only $75 – the price of a new tire.
This time, I made it six miles before the brakes gave out.
Extricating myself from the car via a hopelessly crumpled door, I checked the concrete Jersey barrier I’d swerved into. No damage. Well, it probably wouldn’t sue.
“Woman driver!” Laughter. Guess who.
I whipped out my cell phone and called the garage, yet again.
“Hi, it’s . . .”
“Oh, hi, Carson!” Not only were we suddenly on a first-name basis, but he had recognized my voice, too. “Rethinking that date?”
“Uh, no. I’ve very flattered, but I’m quite busy these days. Sorry.”
“No prob. What can I do for you now?”
“I need a tow.”
“I thought as much. Where are you?”
“I managed to get six whole miles this time.”
“Yes. I’m so proud.”
“Well, our limit for a free tow is five miles.”
“Look, I have not spent the morning putting your sister through college to hear things like that! I have exactly $15 left. It’s not much, but it’s yours.”
“Towing outside five miles costs $50.”
Well. Squiggy the Mechanic and I went to the movies the next evening. The only concession was that the loudmouth motorist, who had delivered such helpful comments during my time of distress, happened to be attending the very same film.
I excused myself and went out to the lobby to have a brief chat with the manager about the fellow in the theater who was indecently exposing himself to the children in the audience. Upon my pointing him out from the back of the theater, he suddenly found himself helped from his seat by two burly concessionaires and unceremoniously deposited on the sidewalk in front of the movie house.
And you know what? When he got out to his car, all his tires were flat.
Now how do you suppose that happened?