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Tow Away ZoneAugust 27, 2004


I ran Lake Merritt yesterday. I parked, ran around it in 39 minutes, average time for me, and got back in my car. I turned the key. Nothing. Zip. You know that weak growl you get when a battery is close to dying? I didn't have that. I didn't even have the click. Just absolutely nothing.

Sigh. I was one of the last hold-outs to get a cell phone, but now I love mine, and thank god for it. Within minutes I had AAA enroute, I had told the garage I'd be on my way, and I had arranged a ride from my generous sister Christy from the garage.

Then I sat. I steamed. Literally. I was all damp and soggy from the run, and it was still warm out, so I felt like a tamale in my car. I could have put the top down, but by that point I was avoiding the sun. I rummaged in the back seat and god bless my packratedness, I found Middlesex by Eugenides, still in its bookstore bag. I had forgotten I had even bought it. I put my aching legs up on the dash and had myself a little read. I watched the people go by. I hung my legs out the window, where they got more breeze, and I watched the people watch my legs. They all looked suspicious of them. What? You never saw legs sticking out? I had a couple of stare-downs with children. I lost.

Then the tow truck arrived, and I fell in love with my driver. Greg. Good old Greg. Here he is:


He made me feel like a million bucks, sweaty and steamy as I was. He tried all sorts of little tricks before he gave up and hooked it up to the truck. When I told him which garage I was taking it to, he called ahead and said we were on our way.

He looked at me when we were on the freeway and said, "You know, men are dumb."
"At least you had your hood up. You had cleaned off the battery connectors. You tried. When a woman gets a flat tire, she gets in the trunk and pulls out the tire iron and the jack and at least gives it a shot. I've rolled up on guys who've been waiting for three hours for me to get there and see if they have a jack. And me and this buddy of mine, we kept track for like a year. It's mostly the guys who lock their keys in the car, you know that? And leave their lights on so the battery flats out. It's 'cause they can't do two things at once. You know...."
"Yeah. They can't do that. Women can. Men are dumb." He shook his head and then smiled.
"You're not dumb."
"Nah, I mean in general."

Well, okay then.

When we got to the garage, I was over my five mile tow limit. I asked how I would pay him. He said, "Let me think about that while I unhook." He dropped the car and then shook my hand. "You take care of yourself. How long is your ride going to be? You okay waiting here?"
"The payment?"
"Take care. I'll see you down the road." With a wink, he was gone. I lurve Greg. I've already called AAA and sent an electronic commendation, and I've written the letter to his boss which I'll mail today.

I lurve Oakland, too. That kind of thing just happens here. Now, let's think cheap-fix thoughts. I can't afford an expensive repair right now.... Oh! And it's Friday! (Isn't it? I might have lost track....) Happy weekend, all!


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Not to state the obvious, but COULD you have put the top of the car down since nothing electronic, gerbil-operated, or otherwise seemed to be working?

So glad you had a nice tow-truck guy. I had one like that once and I've never forgotten him even though it's been years--which makes me realize there are two kinds of people you never forget in this world: the unspeakably super-mean ones and the angels-on-earth ones. Unfortunately, in the normal span of a lifetime you'll meet lots of the former and very few of the latter.

Kudos to you, girl, for just happening to have a book lying around. You're my kinda gal!

whatever it is, may it be very, very cheap!!!
that's TWO good oakland adventures in two posts...eh. Who knew!!!? hugs, walking girl..

THAT man was very smart...and sweet. Dispite what Ryan said I do meet many more angels that devils. Have a super weekend and keep reading. It's a great book!!

Well, fwiw, my experience in this area is that the things that cause the car not to start (ignition, starter, battery, alternator) tend to max out at $300. Which sorta sucks, but compared to the things that can make the car run like hell, they're a bargain.

Also, as I posted to the Lifelong Knitter this a.m., what goes around, comes around, doll.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing story. Like Ann said--what goes around, comes around. You are such a terrific person, that good things are bound to be drawn to you.

Come, join me in unhappy expensive car repair land! I suppose repairs come with the territory of owning the car, but when you pay $500 for a new gasket something or other (such a long story, I can't even begin to go into it) and then you have to have an emmisions test done and they can't even freaking do it because your diagnostic computer isn't holding the code....well, that's enough to make me want to become Amish.

That's a great story! Yes, women multi-task, men delegate. "I placed the call for help, now let them help me!" Women ask for direction, men drive around in circles.

What a great story! There are still very nice, generous people in the world willing to help 'just because'. AND, he didn't even take payment.

Happy you.

Middlesex is in my top 10 books of all time...maybe top 5. Enjoy it.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with slinging your feet out of the window of a parked-for-the-foreseeable future car (assuming another car can't come along and lop them off, of course!) I had a driver's ed instructor who wanted to sling his little feetsies out the window while I was driving. I had to tell him to get his feet back in the car. And people wonder why I haven't set foot behind the wheel of a car since my last lesson?


At least you ahd a great tow truck driver to make you smile. I've had boyfriends in the past that were less likely to do any car maintenance but I used to do all that crap. Greg is smart.


i love greg too. i'm sorry your car has a boo-boo.

What a story. I lurve Greg, too.

Cheap fix thoughts comin' your way.

Greg is awesome. For what it's worth, most of the guys I know would attempt *something*...but it wouldn't necessarily be the *right* thing. (case in point: my computer is still kinda messed up.)

I tell my kids all the time to assume that everybody is nice, and they will most often turn out to be! We're lucky way more times than not, when asking strangers for assistance. I have met more tow-truck drivers than I would care to admit (ahem), and it seems like they are always the nicest guys!

(There's a long story of a two hour tow from Grand Canyon to Flagstaff, in the tow-truck cab between the driver and my husband, and our ultimate decision that I would straddle the gear shift if he promised not to look when he shifted! Too funny.... Oh, and now that I think about it he refused the huge tip I offered him, saying that he'd enjoyed visiting with us.)

Sorry to read (already) that it cost a bunch of money, though. At least it wasn't raining, at least you weren't blocking a main thoroughfare, at least you had a book. See? You had no idea how lucky you were! (giggle)

Hey Rachael--speaking of running, my brother loaned me this cool book, and you were the first person I thought of when I started readin' it. It's called Chi Running, by Danny Dreyer. Ya might wanna check it out. It draws on principles of T'ai Chi and applies 'em to running--it's supposed to foster injury-free running that's less effortful than regular running. I started using just a teeny tiny bit o' the principles in the book (you're supposed to do it in baby-steps) and my 2-mile runnin' time got faster by 2 minutes! Whoah!

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