Today marked the second time I have locked myself out of my car. It’s a lousy enough situation by itself, but I seem to have a disposition to pile on exacerbating factors. The first time, I was driving from Chicago to Detroit on a hot June day with the cat in the back seat. I had stopped for some of the cheap gas they sell in West Michigan. My cell phone, newly acquired expressly for the purpose of aiding in any emergencies that might crop up while I was driving a newly acquired car, was of course in the car. But the moment when I realized my mistake wasn’t even the scariest of this episode. That came a few minutes later when I asked the cashier if she had any advice and she replied, in utter earnest and rather eagerly, “You got a hammer?”
If I’d had a hammer, I’m reasonably sure it would have been locked in the car. Damn good thing, too.
I was bailed out that time. While I got on the pay phone to AAA and settled in for a wait while poor Daffy melted away in the car, a local mechanic, name of Papa Bear, happened to pull in to fill up his wrecker. With striking facility he slim-jimmed his way into the car and I was back on the road east, away from this world where smashing a car window with a hammer seems like a viable solution to anything.
Today was different: not hot but cold, no trapped animal but a running car. No Papa Bear. No bailing out. The car and I were idling, waiting for the defroster to melt away a little obstructive ice on the rear window, when somebody started lobbying hard to have my parking space. Much too much the obliging type for my own good, I got out to quickly scrape away what ice remained. Mysteriously to me (gremlins?), the door ended up locked. Inside the car: car keys, house keys, purse, spare car keys, wallet, cell phone. Outside the car: me, scraper, gloves. Those scrapers are extremely useful when there’s ice on your car. Other times? Not so much. It wasn’t even my nifty-keen Red Wings scraper, humph.
The would-be parker rolled down her window, asked whether I’d locked myself out of the car, and registered regret that it was indeed so–regret for my distress or her inconvenience, I could not say. In any case, she found another spot within spitting distance, and seemed to be considering whether to offer any help to me, when out of the blue my friend Katie appeared with her devastatingly adorable child Siobhan and–more important, just this once–a cell phone she could spare for a little while. Ms. Not-Just-Any-Spot scurried into her nearby building, clearly relieved. As bad as the afternoon was, I must admit that Katie happening along was such a stunning little miracle that I almost feel churlish complaining about everything else. Almost.
Long story short: after trying a few local parties (University police, unmanned repair shop), I got in touch with good old AAA and joined on the spot. I even managed to dredge my American Express card number and expiration date from the recesses of my memory, digit by digit, to pay the fee. (Of this I am quite proud, even though all it probably means is that I shop too much on the internet.) They dispatched a locksmith who arrived after about 90 minutes, three times as long as billed. In fairness, Precise-Parking Lady let me into the warm vestibule of her building when she rediscovered me ten minutes before the locksmith showed. By that time, I was cutting quite a pathetic figure (and may have milked it a bit).
All told: Two hours. Thirty degrees. Maximum misery. All my dreams of being a sherpa died today.
I’m warm now. I cranked all the radiators in the apartment, closed what storm windows were still open, put on three layers of clothes and rolled myself up in a blanket until the temperature in here reached 83. After cracking a few windows and closing a couple radiators, I’ve attained a comfy 72–a fine atmosphere, don’t you think, in which to recreate the (actual arts-related) posts lost in the ether this afternoon when a suddenly disconnected modem cable made the ibook seize up, initiating this whole sorry series of events. I’ll reconstruct those for you as soon as I’ve had a little sleep. Tomorrow: much blogging, no excuses.