Living Somewhere Between Jack’s House and Giving a Mouse a Cookie

No pictures—just a story.

PROLOGUE: We gave my daughter my old car when she went away to college (and yep, I got the new one). Fast forward 6 years. Her car is now 13 years old, has umpteen thousand miles on it, and can be forgiven for the fact that its heater gave out this year.

When I went in for foot surgery last week, I suggested to my daughter that she borrow my car for the period I would be laid up so she could have some heat. She was thrilled.

She called two days after taking my car. It had developed an alarmingly large—and getting alarmingly larger—windshield crack. I suspect the cold. These things happen.

She brought it home, parked it in our garage, and took her car back.

I arranged for a windshield replacement through our insurance company. Because of the holidays, I couldn’t get it scheduled until after my husband would already be back at work. “Don’t worry, it’s simple,” said my husband, who had his windshield replaced recently. “They come and do it in your driveway, it takes about an hour; you probably won’t even have to talk to the guy.” “That’s perfect,” I replied, as I was sitting on the couch with my foot propped up and an ice bag on my ankle. 

Wait for it. 

I get a notice that the windshield guy would be at my house yesterday sometime between 7:30a and noon. I get myself all presentable by 7:30 just in case he does have to talk to me. I stay downstairs on the couch doing some reading because the stairs take me awhile these days and I didn’t want to be ensconced in my upstairs office working on my dissertation until I knew everything was all set.

At 10a, I get a call from the manager that the service person had gotten delayed because of the blizzard starting to move in. “He’ll be there around noon,” I was told. Okay, no worries, I thought: At least I’ll be able to get some work done on my dissertation. I hobbled slowly up the stairs to my computer. Fortunately, the company provides a tracking map so I could pay attention to how close he was getting to the house.

When I could see that he was five minutes away, I hobbled downstairs. Once I greeted him, I took my place on the couch even though he’d assured me he wouldn’t need me until he finished in about an hour.

Sure enough, less than 10 minutes later, there’s a knock on my door. Mr. Windshield Guy sheepishly informed me that he somehow managed to break something—just a tiny little thing that he accidentally hit with one of his tools while removing the windshield. I don’t even know what said tiny little thing does. It’s a small wire-bracket kind of thing that’s less than an inch long, but somehow he nicked it. And apparently it was important. 

Now my car has to go to a body shop. And it has no windshield in it. So it has to be towed.

Mr. Windshield assured me that his company would take care of everything, including getting me a rental car. Since Mr. Windshield said it could be a few days before I get my car back, I agreed. However, I said, I really shouldn’t be leaving the house with my foot. Could they bring me a car? This led to some back and forth between Mr. Windshield, his manager, and the rental company, while I went back in to elevate my foot again. 

No go on me not leaving. About 45 minutes later, Enterprise sent someone to come pick me up to get my rental car.

I stuff my swollen, sore, bandaged foot into the only pair of lace-up sort-of-winter-footwear I can fit into right now (see a later blog post) and limp my way through the blowing snow drifts and an increasingly slick driveway to climb into the rental van—with a driver who had pulled up too close to the drifts on the passenger side so I was up to my ankles in snow getting in the car. Praying this only pair of shoes I can currently wear was sufficiently waterproof to protect my bandages, I maneuvered myself into the van. Because Mr. Windshield’s truck was in the way, Mr. Enterprise couldn’t use our turnaround so he began to back down our very long, somewhat hilly, somewhat curvy, and fairly icy driveway. I closed my eyes and held my breath because I knew for sure what was going to happen next.

Yep. He got stuck halfway down.

Mr. Enterprise hoofed it back up to the garage to borrow one of our shovels, and Mr. Windshield (probably thrilled to have anything to do at this point) came to help while I sat, Princess-Like, in the front passenger seat feeling completely useless.

Fortunately, about 10 minutes later they managed to get the van un-stuck and Mr. Enterprise slowly made it back out of the rest of our driveway and we made our way to the rental agency without further incident.

The rental agent asked if I had any preferences about cars. “Just something that can handle the snow,” I responded, watching the blizzard get thicker and thicker out the windows. The agent chuckled, but not in a this-is-going-to-be-good-news-for-me way. Apparently the airport had just cancelled the majority of flights so rental cars were suddenly flying off the lot. 

Paperwork done, I’m escorted out to find my rental car in the parking lot.

It’s a roller skate. 

I haven’t always driven SUVs, but even the Renault Encore I drove in college was bigger than this thing. 

Finding the windshield wiper, heat, and defroster controls first, and turning everything up to full blast, I proceed to pull out of the driveway and up the slightly inclined street to the nearest light. Not a good start—Roller Skate has almost no traction and all the pick-up of an elderly turtle. I barely made it up the street and then slid my way around the corner. At least the trip home mostly involves straight roads.

I come around the pile of snow in the middle of our cul-de-sac to see Mr. Windshield still parked in my driveway. As I slowly come around the circle, I’m looking at our long, uphill driveway that I am 75% certain Roller Skate can’t manage. I gave brief consideration to parking in the cul-de-sac and hiking up the driveway regardless of my foot, but decided—with the way my day was going—that the snow plow would probably take Roller Skate with it on its next pass. I held my breath and gunned it.

Roller Skate slowly shimmied its way to the top of the driveway, so rather than doing the maneuvering necessary to get around the Windshield truck and parking neatly, I let Roller Skate do his thing and slide sideways into the turnaround. “I’m so done!” I declared out loud, decisively turning the car off, grabbing my purse, and then (in contrast) slowly, gingerly, climbing ever-so-carefully out of the driver’s seat.

I had a brief chat with Mr. Windshield about the fact that, given the storm, it could be awhile before we saw the tow truck, then limped my way into the house.

If feet could swear, Surgery Foot would be cussing me out but good.

Mr. Windshield finally got permission from his manager to go home around 4:30 even though the tow hadn’t arrived. The tow truck finally got to our house around 6:30. They sent a flatbed. I had just been on the phone trying to call the whole thing off because now it was dark, the snow was a lot worse, and I was really pretty sure any tow truck trying to make it up our driveway would just get stuck. While I was on the phone, though, I saw the taillights of the flatbed as it was slowly backing up our driveway. And sure enough, he started spinning out when he got near the garage where the driveway gets really slick. 

In slippers and surgery boot, I went outside to stand in the garage while the tow truck guy and I conversed briefly about his best options. I’m also now worriedly watching the street for my husband who was supposed to be getting home from work right about then—the major jockeying of cars that was going to need to happen! Fortunately, Tow Truck successfully got himself into position to move my car onto the flatbed and was able to pull back out of the driveway before I saw any sign of my husband. Unfortunately but also fortunately, the snow made my husband’s commute painfully slow for him (a 40 minute drive took almost 2 hours) so by the time he did make it home the garage was ready for him to pull right in. 

It was only supposed to take an hour. And not involve me. And now my car is in a body shop for who knows how long, I’m supposed to drive a Roller Skate that stinks in the snow during a weekend when we get a blizzard, and at some point we’ll have to do the whole car jockeying thing again when I’m able to go get my car back and drop off the rental. Bully. 

I’m pleased to say that I apparently did all the right things yesterday to care for my foot after I was finally able to get back on the couch. Elevation, ice, drugs. For all it hurt like the dickens yesterday, it seems to be doing well today. But my daughter is still driving a car with no heat. She may be pushing up her plans for buying a new one!