Last night when I was driving home from a friend’s in Denver, my driver’s side window started acting funny. I noticed it was cracked open which was weird because it was a) freezing out and b) I didn’t remember touching it, but anyway, I hit the window up button and nothing happened.. Maybe the window was frozen to the door or something? I kept driving, intermittently trying to get my window to go up when suddenly I heard “Ker plunk.” That is the sound of a 2003 Jetta driver’s side window falling akimbo into the door. What does “falling akimbo” mean, you might be wondering… It means the window kind of flipped on its side and fell in so that the corner was facing up… Kind of like when your sliding closet door goes off track only you are driving on I-25 at night in the dead of winter with cold air blowing in your face, and you still have 35 minutes at least till you get home. You have the heat blasting, your wool hat on and your hood up but you are freezing and terrified so you decide not to try and mess with the window any more, lest it shatter into a million pieces into your freezing lap and you really want to get home tonight.
This morning I called Safelite auto glass. Luckily they could come to my work and fix it onsite. Not so luckily, they couldn’t get out till tomorrow. That left me with two choices for today. Drive to work and leave my car with the window wide open in a public parking lot or drive Dan’s car to work. After much deliberation I chose the latter. The problem with Dan’s car is that it has a standard tranmission. My experience with driving his car thus far included a lot of cursing, holding my breath, and yelling “What f—ing gear am I in!? WHAT GEAR!? WHERE IS THIRD?” That was my role anyway. Dan’s role was to gently coach me, to encourage me and to kindly inform me of what gear I was in. I wasn’t sure what I would do without him on my first solo mission.
I decided to go for a little test drive. I took the car around the block and even made a three point turn when I got to a dead end. “I think I can do this!” I told myself. Positive self-talk is key. I got to the end of our street and put my blinker on to turn left onto the main road. As soon as I saw someone in my rearview I thought better of my decision and put on my hazards instead. She kindly pulled up next to me, rolled down her window and asked if I was ok. I thanked her and said I was just learning to drive the car. For the first time in my life, I hoped that she would think I was 16 and just learning to drive, period, as I felt that would knock down the embarrassment factor a few notches. As it turned out, my first victory was imminent, as I successfully turned left up a slight hill. Ok just 25 more miles to go… I could do this. I left my hazards on just in case. Then as I approached each red light I crawled as slow as I could and gave dirty looks in my rearview mirror to any vehicle that dared come within 20 feet my car, lest I have to stop and start again, aka) recipe for distaster, as I really had to be at work and did not budget time for stalling. Nor had I even come close to finishing my coffee.
As I continued cruising south on 93 I started to feel pretty confident. Not confident enough to turn off my hazards, mind you, but ok to mess with the radio. But it was set to some AM fuzzy station and I was going to have to mess with my drink holder to find KBCO and all of a sudden I got really nervous and turned the radio right off. But even so I was doing ok. But just in case I prayed that anyone behind me would note my hazard lights and stay very far back because otherwise I might have a total panic attack.
And then the inevitable happened. I stalled at the intersection of 6 and Colfax. It was a proverbial red light on a hill and I had no choice but to stop. When I tried to go again, I killed the engine. So I tried again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. I lost count of how many light cycles I missed after about 4. Because it was just so dang many or because my thoughts turned from “You can do this. Relax. Visualize the car going. Ok try it another way. Ok more gas. Less clutch. Less gas. More cowbell” to… Stuff I can’t write on this blog, I don’t know. Remember the “Everybody Hurts” video by REM and how all the people are really sad in their individual cars? Imagine a video of one adult throwing a tantrum in the car yelling very uncouth things so loud and so repetitively that it made her throat hurt, which it still does a little, over 12 hours later, and imagine the song is called “This person is totally losing her sh*t.”
My state evolved from totally melting down to relieved and too out of control to even be embarrassed when a state trooper in an SUV pulled up behind me with his flashers on. He had a beard. I always imagined if there was a god, he would have a beard. Well, my god has a long white beard, but this guy’s auburn beard would do just fine. In any case if he wasn’t god, he was an angel sent from god. Did I mention I am an agnostic who is starting to believe there may be a god? Anyways, he comes up to my car and he’s like “Are you ok?” or something and I am crying like a baby and in between sobs I’m like “This isn’t my car. My car window is busted. This is my fiance’s car. And I can’t make it go.” So he’s like “Ok, take a deep breath.” Then he reminded me its Tuesday, not Monday, therefore not that bad, which made me smile a little. He told me to put the car in gear. I wiped my eyes and said “It is.” and then he said “It’s in neutral.” And then I yanked on the thing and sure enough it was in neutral. And then I got into first and I made it to work with no other problems except stalling on the way into the parking lot and arriving two minutes late, which no one seemed to mind.
On the way home, I admit I got a little cocky and even ate a banana while driving. I was quickly humbled when my car stalled again, this time in major rush hour traffic. A handsome looking guy approached my car. I admit it was kind of him to risk his safety by pulling over and crossing 2 or 3 busy lanes of traffic to try and help me but unless you’re a police man, if you’re a man I don’t know, I am not inviting you into my car. Or Dan’s car, as the case may be. Maybe I have read a few too many Ann Rule books, but I’m just sayin’. So anyway this guy asks me if I would like to have him help me get my car to the breakdown lane, so at least no one will rear end me. I said “No thank you.” He said “Are you sure? You could get rear ended.” I said “I know but I don’t think that will happen.” Then confidently, I added, “Seriously, this has happened to me before. I’ll be ok.” Take that, helpful hot guy! Did I mention he was hot? He was hot. Still, I knew I could do it. And I did, eventually. All the way till I got halfway into our driveway, then I tried to reverse so I could park on the street but the car stalled again and I had run out of patience and I left the car there, ran into the house, and asked Dan to please come out and park it for me because I was done. But even so, I did it, I lived, I think maybe there’s a god now and also I need to tell my brother I win because when we were kids we used to try and see who could best impersonate our dad when the press broke at his scrap metal yard and he would have his moment of special rage reserved only for the press breaking, and I think I nailed it, although I was not trying to impersonate anyone.