Last week I broke everything I touched except my marriage and that’s only because we’ve been together so long we are fairly indestructible. We both know that there is no one else on earth that would put up with the other one’s crap and neither of us could navigate life without the other.
Cars have never been important to me as a status symbol and I tend to drive mechanically sound but undesirable vehicles with cheap parts that my husband can repair himself. Last week my $500 car got me the 101 miles back to college with no problems but couldn’t get me the four blocks to campus the next morning. I arranged for my handy husband to drive up Friday afternoon and help me limp back home. I walked everywhere I needed to go, or bummed rides.
In the two days between break down and rescue, I managed to break the zipper on my favorite pair of boots (luckily I know a guy); the toilet in my apartment (still undetermined whether it was the new flapper or new plunger that fixed it or if it is really fixed); my son (not my fault); and the kid who had earned a B and was a delight to work with, quit coming to tutoring and has a good chance of failing the class (it’s always the quiet ones).
My husband showed up Friday afternoon to determine what I had broken on my car. He listened to it run—of course it never stalled and sounded better than it had all week—and poked around under the hood with a screwdriver. (I knew it was the fuel filter, so all this was unnecessary!) We turned it off and he poked around some more, then crawled behind the wheel to start it himself.
“Which key is it?” He held up the key ring with two keys attached.
“The big one. The one that’s not a house key. ” I rolled my eyes and continued talking with my friend, Laura. He looked at me like I was nuts, but figured it out and got the car started.
When he gave me back the keys I noticed he had broken the car key in half and the two keys looked exactly the same, except that one had the word “Ford” stamped on it. Luckily the other half was in the ignition and the car still ran—sort of.
We decided to take a chance driving the car home since I probably wouldn’t make anything worse. My husband would follow in case of breakdown. The car was almost small enough to haul in the back of the pickup if it died. We caravanned to the gas station and then felt we should make one last stop for a sixpack because we were going to need a beer, or two, when we got home. Coming out of Safeway I looked at the keys in my hand and had a realization.
“This key won’t work in the door locks, will it?”
“Why did you lock it?” My husband demanded.
I shrugged but thought to myself “habit.” The car was loaded for the weekend with books, dirty laundry and my computer.
We went to my apartment in the pickup to get a wire coat hanger. On the short drive back to Safeway I thought I would be helpful and untwist the coat hanger hook so it would be ready to stick through the door and pull up the manual locks. It broke off it my hands!
I drove home watching my husband’s headlights in the rearview mirror. I kept the gas pedal to the floor (which meant that sometimes I got up to 60 mph) and dared any deer in the ditches to step in front of me.