I knew it was a bad sign when I walked out of the gas station on Saturday evening and saw that my husband had the hood propped up on the Jeep. We are definitely not the kind of people who check the oil every time we fill up the gas tank.
“It won’t turn on,” Jim said. “The ignition just spins in the cylinder.”
We checked our roadside emergency supplies and discovered that although we lacked the proper tools, but we did have a stack of children’s books and a box of mini candy canes. I sensed that we would be stranded for a while.
I took our two small children to play on a nearby patch of grass and counted passing cars while Jim repeatedly clenched his jaw and said “I don’t know what this part does, but I feel like it’s important.”
By a stroke of Providence, our neighbors showed up. Because they are wonderful people, they drove 10 miles back to Prescott to pick up the part we needed. Meanwhile, Jim unsuccessfully tried to remove the ignition with the wrong tools. I said “Watch out for that car!” 5,000 times, then bribed the children into their car seats with Tootsie Pops.
“It’s a good thing I was with you when this happened,” Jim said.
“Yes,” I replied. “If you weren’t here, I would have promptly called Triple A. Then we would’ve gotten a ride to a friend’s house, and the kids would be watching Disney Junior right now while I snuggled under a Pendleton blanket on a queen-sized bed. Instead, I’m squished between two car seats, eating a gray hot dog and reading Scooby Doo to a toddler who smells like mashed bananas.”
I am grateful for my husband’s willingness to mechanic on our car, though, especially since he’s a cowboy and it goes against his professional code of ethics. When our neighbors returned, we discovered the auto parts store had sold them the right part but the wrong tools. So, Jim called Donnie, a fellow gas station customer who had stopped by earlier to help us. He lived one mile down the road, owned a large selection of tools, and drank Natural Light.
Donnie searched through his toolboxes, located the special star-shaped wrench, and drove back to the gas station. Jim fixed the ignition and – over two hours after our ordeal began – the engine finally turned over. Me and the kids cheered, and I hugged Donnie. He wished us safe travels, and we all buckled up. Jim turned on the headlights and tried to shift into drive, but the shifter wouldn’t budge. Joining in the spirit of the evening, it had apparently fused into one solid piece, immovable by human – or even husband – hands.
I began mentally sorting nearby hotels according to price and cleanliness. Jim called his dad in Colorado, who is a knowledgeable DIY mechanic. He was also sound asleep when the phone rang, which is perfect because we don’t consider a roadside emergency complete unless we wake up at least one person in a different time zone.
Jim said things into the phone like “It’s never done this before,” and “It just won’t move” until the handle actually broke off in his hand and we could see its inner workings.
I couldn’t believe my good luck; most humor writers have to make this stuff up. I’m just lucky I have a car that sometimes doesn’t start and a cowboy husband who is handier with a rope than a wrench.
Note: My husband would like me to mention that he did indeed fix the Jeep’s final issue and safely pilot our family home that night. Also, a HUGE thanks to our neighbors Stormy and Bailey, and of course Donnie the Good Samaritan.