Hung Up

I’d never noticed these little thingies on the palm trees at the beach.

Miles run today: 3

Words written in my novel so far: 37,574

Car essays I should write for a best-selling memoir: 52

You may not believe this, but I have another car episode to share with you. If you’re playing catch-up, you can check out some of my earlier angst here.

So today, I was over at my hubby’s work, helping out around the office and finishing Cutting for Stone, crying and hoping the person on the other end of the phone thought I had a cold.

After lunch with the hubs, I rushed off, thinking of the ten million and one things I needed to get done.  I turned out of his industrial street singing “Call Me Maybe,” sunshine and happiness, and all heck broke loose.

Just over my left shoulder, on the driver’s side in the region of my Achille’s heel, the sliding door, a God-awful metallic thumping-and-banging started up.

My first thought: my door has decided to take leave of the minivan, all on its own.

My second thought: crime has finally come to my town, and someone has jumped on the side of my car, Fast and Furious/Jason Bourne-style, trying to get in, wielding a machine gun. Or machete. Yes, machete sounds more ominous.

So I pulled into a right turn lane that I had never seen anyone pull into so I could climb out and do battle with the machete-wielding dude on my rear wheel-well, and the car right behind me was turning right. I’m serious: people never turn right there.

I hop right out with my best ninja pose.

And there was no one there. The door was still on the car (albeit missing a handle).

But a mangled, twisted clothes hanger was sticking out of my rear tire. And it had been beating my car, trying to get unstuck.

So I used my big-girl muscles and yanked it out, expecting air to come shooting out of the tire in a big WHOOSH!


I drove into a nearby parking lot and did what every self-respecting, independent woman does when confronted with tires that are supposed to be spewing air but aren’t: I called my husband.

Two calls.

Three calls. I mean… I was just there.


“I got a coat hanger in my tire.”


Sometimes I get the feeling people aren’t excited to talk to me. This was a time like that.

“What did you do?”

“I pulled it out.” Duh.

Sigh. “I wish you had called me.”

This is when I kept my mouth shut so it doesn’t say things I don’t want it to.

That’s how I ended up about a quarter of a mile down the street at Tire King, which I’ve never visited, which is right next to the defunct Dog House, which looks like a large version of a dog house with a huge hot dog on top, which I also never visited but never ceased to interest me, which is just across the street from Capi’s Deli, which is actually a gas station which everyone tries to convince me sells the best sub sandwiches this side of the Mississippi.

So I enter Tire King in my old running clothes, no makeup, all ready for The Run That Never Happened (or really, the run that happened after all this, in 90-degree heat and sun).

I told the woman at the counter my sob story and asked if they could plug the hole.

She had the cool kind of silver hair that’s all spiky, and you could tell she ran the place, man. I bet if Larry the Tire Guy said the “F” word, she would probably give him a Look and remind him how profanity doesn’t happen on her turf. I knew all that about her and more just by seeing how she tucked in her Tire King polo shirt all neat-like even though she dealt with greasy guys all day long.

“We don’t plug; we patch,” she said.

Believe me when I say that if she had offered to stick part of her turkey sandwich in the hole just so I could finish my errands, I would have paid her $25.

She gave me an I’m-so-sorry look. “I have 25 cars in front of yours; it’s the Friday of Labor Day weekend,” she said.

But inexplicably, she followed me out to the car, leaving her turf unwomanned. The tide of my luck was turning.

We both bent over the back tire and made faces at the scratches the hanger had made on my sliding door’s paint job. It’s amazing how much damage can occur in a quarter-mile.

Then I got in the car and did a cool reverse jobbie with the door open that I never get to do, so I felt cool and kind of like a car expert. Next thing you know, I’d be jumping in the driver’s side window, Dukes of Hazard style.

A Tire King jumpsuited guy came over and sprayed the tire with Windex, which made me think, “Well, now, I know it’s dirty, but uh…”

Supposedly, magic bubbly things would happen had there been a hole.

No magic happened.

“So, wing and a prayer, huh?” I asked them, trying not to imagine my crunched-up body landing in some ditch with a tire blowout.

The Tire King directed me to an open bay and filled up all of my tires.

And there you go: I got all of my tires filled up for free. I mean, that doesn’t happen every day, folks. Even the gas stations charge you 25 cents.

“Well, you might have a slow leak…” Tire King said, who smiled and said he was headed out to a local lake for the long weekend. “Have a great weekend!”

Do you remember in The Princess Bride when Billy Crystal/Miracle Max is in the little hut, watching the heroes leave, and his wife asks if he thinks they’ll make it, and Miracle Max says, “It’ll take a miracle!”

Yeah, that’s the way I feel about whether I get most places these days. Cross my fingers, say a little prayer. Try not to get hung up.

40 thoughts on “Hung Up

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    For all my independence and skills, I would do the very same thing if something happened to my car–call my husband. Which is strange given he knows nothing about cars. But he knows where they need to go when they are damaged, and for that I am grateful. And if that makes me sound like a pathetic woman, I would like to add that I manage all electronic devices in my home from stereos to TV to computers. There. Hopefully, that redeemed me.

    Here’s hoping your tire holds out. 🙂

  2. Daryl says:

    You forgot to mention that the sliding door is fixed 😉
    I think our next minivan should be a M1 Abrams battle tank. I’d like to see a coat hanger stop that!

  3. jmmcdowell says:

    Calling the hubs makes perfect sense to me in that situation. Twice (two different cars) we’ve gotten a nail or screw driven into a tire. They seem to live on the roads out here. Amazingly, those patches do work.

    (But like Carrie, I’m in charge of “fixing” the electronics when they act up.)

    • annewoodman says:

      Ergh! I wish they made indestructible tires! Or that the streets were magically swept for suspect bits and pieces.

      My family stops just short of begging me not to touch electronics to “fix” them. ; )

  4. Amy Mak says:

    I like the Daisy Duke theme…maybe you should try that whole window thing. What a classic.

  5. Subtlekate says:

    Has no hub to call 😦 I have to rely on the wing and a pray thing and then resort to wire. I find wire helps in most situations.
    I laughed thinking about you jumping out with your ninja pose. I’m going to try that.

  6. I used to buy egg biscuits from the Dog House. They were good. I bought a hot dog once. The memory of its effects will probably never leave me. Capi’s used to be good, but that was years ago. It’s pretty gross now, but it’s still cheap. If you’re starving, you can get a giant tuna sub for about four bucks. But they do sell bananas, and ridiculously good cookies.

    • annewoodman says:

      Hmmmm. I had never heard about the cookies. Must try those in a pinch when sugar-crashing.

      Your experience makes me glad I didn’t succumb to curiosity about The Dog House. ; )

  7. babin101 says:

    Very Good post! 🙂

  8. Kev Ollier says:

    Love it – especially as there are so many American spelled words. I sometimes forget how very different our words are but yours read how they sound which is definitely the more sensible ! 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Huh! I’m not even sure which ones you mean! I guess they’re all old hat for me now. Sometimes, after reading a book by an English writer, I start to spell things the English way… it can get confusing!

  9. Chris Edgar says:

    Is it a faux pas to enter Tire King without makeup? I know one time I was admonished for failing to remove my hat. I should have figured they would follow the same policies as my yacht club.

    • annewoodman says:

      Let’s just put it this way–I wasn’t looking stunning in the way you need to look to get extra special help at the tire store. I looked like a tired, not-so-spunky, stinky person in running clothes.

  10. 4amWriter says:

    Ack, I would have been a nervous nellie the entire time–sure that my tire would blow up en route somewhere. I like all the action sequences. Too bad you didn’t get to jump through your window. Maybe next time.

    • annewoodman says:

      Given that my door handles keep breaking off of the car, I guess sliding in through the driver’s door isn’t so far off base. I’m crossing my fingers I won’t actually HAVE to jump through the window… just maybe want to when I’m feeling especially adventurous. ; )

  11. I HATE when stuff like this happens! You handled it well! Now wishing you lots of luck! Thanks for sharing your adventure…. 🙂

  12. Melissa says:

    Just giggling…can’t help it. I had this whole little movie running in my head of the face your hubs made when you told him you’d pulled the hanger out (duh!), of you jumping out of the van in ninja readiness…and I’ve met that woman at the Tire King….I know I have.

  13. Funny post – I love how the aggravation of these crappy events makes for a humorous story once enough time has passed. And thanks for adding to the mystique that us guys are any good at helping with stuff, even when we’re not.
    I recall occasions when I would join a couple of other guys around an open car hood, usually each of us with a beer in one hand, talking about car stuff we thought might help the fix. Sometimes things got fixed, too!

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, it’s nice even in the moment when bad things happen… I’ve started to think, “Hey, this will make a great post!” Instead of: “@*$*#$&#$*!” Well, there’s some of that, too. ; )

  14. I had a car like that once. It was two different colors. One day on the way home from work, stuck in traffic at a light, a huge black cloud of smoke began pouring out the front and back of the car. I was terrified. Two guys in a pickup truck took pity on me and pushed me into a parking lot – where a cop followed them and gave me a ticket for excessive pollution. The guys in the truck were like, Are you crazy? Meanwhile, I cried.

  15. You do have excitement when it comes to cars. The tank idea makes a lot of sense.

    Also, yesterday, I could not get into your blog site or make comments on any of your posts. So, I’m still playing catch-up from my vacation. Do you know if anyone else had similar issues?

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! A car can be both helpmate and the bane of my existence, it’s true.

      I have no idea what might have been happening with my blog site. I haven’t heard that from anyone else, but the happenings of blogs and Internet things are like magic to me… voodoo, really. ; )

      Oh! But all day long, I had to keep logging into my blog again and again. Don’t know how all of that is connected.

  16. […] I like it when my car does not resemble a serial killer vehicle. Functional door handles are one of those non-negotiables… call me […]

  17. […] how I got all ninja on an imagined carjacker, […]

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