Monday, May 21, 2007

A Very Scary Sunday

I've just come from three hours on the side Mo Pac, a lucky victim of a blown-off hubcap. I say lucky because I pulled over when my hupcap flew off. It was only when I stopped and looked at the car that I realized ALL THE BOLTS of the tire were completely gone and that there was nothing holding on my front driver's wheel except for dirt and faith.

So I called AAA, taking advantage of my free towing, told them what was going on and nestled in the back seat of the caddy, enjoying the beautiful evening and occasionally peeping my head up to see if the tow truck had arrived.

I whistled, I sang (Erasure mostly, What? Don't laugh.) and then I got a little philosophical. All these cars whizzing by me, whizzing by each other. Each one of these cars carries lives that are as rich and complex as we can imagine, but as they pass by it's just a blur. I won't know these people. They won't know each other, and yet we're mere inches from each other, constantly.

I started saying small prayers of thanksgiving, and in the distance, headed the opposite direction, was an ambulance in full siren mode. I said a special prayer for them and whoever the poor mortal bastard they were on their way to help.

Well, as it turns out, the poor mortal bastard was me. Someone saw a girl lying in the back of a car on the side of the road and called EMS. The rescue workers, wearing Scary Blue Gloves of Death, came to have a look at me. I had a look at them. They asked me if I needed help. I asked them if they knew anything about finding hubcaps or --motioning to my textbook on the seat next to me-- physical anthropology. By the time the Scary Blue Glove Guys wandered off the tow truck arrived and thus began the great adventure.

Michael was young, I'd say 22 at the most, with tight wiry muscles and a Tom Sawyer face. His once and almost definitely future girlfriend, Jessica, was riding with him. Tom clenched his jaw. He walked around, swore a little bit and stood there with intense focus. I won't bore you with the details, but it took nearly two hours of jaw clenching and mechanical brilliance for this man to get Stella on the truck, but he did it it -- lifted her up, removed the tire and the brake drum, set them under her sideways so as to not have the car crash down. I was struck by his intensity but also the tenderness with which he treated Stella. He knew this wasn't some old Ford Fiesta and thought long and hard --really, you could see him do it-- about each move he was going to make.

After an hour and a half of the previously mentioned jaw-clenching and mechanically wizardry, Stella found herself firmly ensconced on the flat bed trailer and Jessica, Michael and I were on our way back to my apartment. I wanted to do something nice for these guys. I knew from what Jessica had told me that he was just recovering from a rather embarrassing mistake at work and that they were having troubles because they never got to see each other. Obviously I was going to write a letter to his boss, but if only I had some cash to tip him, or a pack of cigarettes or something, but I came up empty.

That was, until I looked in the folds of mypocket liturgial secretary and found two large unused gift card to a nice Italian restaurant I had received the week before. Once Stella was nestled in the safe confines of my parking lot I handed over the gift cards with the admonition that they should go to the restaurant, order a couple of bottles of good wine and eat something stuffed with lobster.

Michael did the funny clench-jaw thing, which I suspect was his form of showing emotion. He gave Jessica the sweetest puppy dog look then re-clenching he swallowed hard and as he announced that "I'm really not supposed to do this" gave me the strongest, sweetest most embarrassed and awkward man-hug I've had in a good long while.

Those crazy kids. I hope they make it.

As for Stella...I hope she makes it too.


Blogger Rachel's Big Dunk said...

What a great story.

My dad had a Rambler station wagon when I was a kid and one time the front wheel just fell off. Luckily it was in the driveway when it happened.

Hope your car is ok.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth K said...

Poor Stella! Were any of the EMS guys cute?

10:28 PM  

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