That night I was driving home on the interstate around 9 p.m. My oil pressure warning light started flickering in the dark. Uh-oh. I kept watching it. Soon it came on and stayed on. My pulse quickened. At least twenty highway break-down horror stories flashed through my head at once. The next thing that flashed through my head went something like this:
Car 2 Years Old + Oil Change This Morning = Auto Shop Fucked Up
HATE KILL DIE, AUTO SHOP! MY HUSBAND HAS MAFIA RELATIVES! YOU ARE GOING DOOOOOWN.
I was too scared to stop on the interstate in the dark. I was less than two miles from my exit, so I decided to push on. When I exited I pulled into the first parking lot I saw and stopped the engine. Smoke started coming from under the hood. Fortunately I'd remembered to put our cell phone in my bag that morning, and the battery was fully charged. I made sure the doors were locked and dialed my home number.
Tried again. And again. Hit redial 10 times.
Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy.
WHY ARE WE SO CHEAP WE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN CALL WAITING GAAAAAAH!
I got out of the car. I tried to recall some of the moves I learned in my college self-defense class. All that came to mind was “Sweep the leg." Wait, that was Karate Kid.
I went to the back of the car and got out the 50-pound car emergency kit that M bought me. He had displayed it proudly on the dining room table so I would see it when I got home from work. When I spied it I said, “Wow! Did you buy me a new computer? A bowling ball? Uh... what is that?”
Silently I apologized to M for making fun of it. Then I cursed him for being on the phone when I needed him. Weren’t we soul mates? Wasn’t he supposed to sense my distress? Like Lassie! I looked around hopefully for any intelligent dogs that might have been patrolling the parking lot. There weren't any.
I opened the kit and got out the flashlight. I peered under the car and saw a suspicious puddle. I touched it, felt it, and smelled it. Yup, it was oil.
I popped the hood and pulled out the oil dipstick. Wiped it, reinserted. Pulled out and squinted at it. I quickly deduced that the reason the oil level wasn’t registering on the dipstick was because it was all on the PAVEMENT.
Got back in the car and locked the doors again, because by then I was pretty cold. Tried M again. Busy. Called my dad in Florida. No answer. Tried my best friend. No answer.
I looked through the emergency kit and hoped inspiration would strike. I found the first aid kit and looked at all the band-aid varieties. Wondered if there was a snake bite kit. There wasn’t, but there was a packet of Wet Naps. I cleaned the oil residue off my fingers. I tested the emergency whistle. It was loud, but M did not hear it. Neither did Lassie. That bitch.
I reviewed the instructions for what to do in case your car is submerged in water. Really, everyone should.
Finally! The cell phone rang and it was M! Angels burst through the cloudy skies and did a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria as they floated in circles around my car.
He came and got me. I reluctantly agreed on the way home that a midnight egging of the auto shop would not be the most mature response . He promised that he would stay home from work the next morning and help me take care of it. Not because he’s the man and all car-related issues are therefore his responsibility, but because he knows me well enough to know that car problems are one of the few things that make my anxiety swell to Swiss Alps proportions.
And you know what? He did.
And you know what else?
We still don’t have call waiting.