I’ve got a 1993 Buick LeSabre that ferries me from home to work every day. It’s like a space ship inside, all lights and consoles, passenger-side climate control and enough room to stretch your arms out and not touch the dashboard. I’ve considered putting in a mini-fridge. But. Anyways. I stopped at the post office for approximately 10 minutes yesterday, then came back to the car, and the thing wouldn’t start. The headlights went on, and the radio went on, but the engine made no engine-y sounds. Luckily there was an auto shop just down the street. It’s one of those places that looks completely abandoned, except for a few massive tow trucks in the parking lot. Another man was pulling into the lot as I scampered through slushy snow banks to get to the garage doors. I asked him if the place was open, and he said he thought it was, because he heard voices.
Well, the voices were apparently the voices of the nicest people alive. He opened the door, and a tiny birdlike elderly Hispanic woman sat behind the desk of the front office. (I’d been picturing a greasy macho muscle-fest, to go with the outside appearances.) The parking-lot man told her my trouble, in Spanish, and she called to someone inside the garage. This man, also very nice, came out and heard my problem, then called to a second man inside the garage. Man #2, though skeptical at first when I told him my car was down the street, went back to the garage, procured a sledge hammer, and joked “This is how I fix everything.”
He took the sledge hammer and followed me to the car, about three blocks away. We popped the hood and I turned the key. The thing started up just like normal, not a hitch. My internal monologue was reduced to: “Wha…?” Luckily Sledge Hammer man was gracious and good-natured about the trek, and told me to come back if it happened again, because it might be the starter or the ignition. Great, I thought. I’ll just wait for it to happen again. On the South Side. Hopefully it won’t. But anyway. It made me think of this story by Anne Lamott.