They Don’t Make Car Breakdowns Like They Used To

I had to pick up one of my friends at the car dealership where her car was getting its computer overhauled.  Apparently, something went kerflooey and her turn signals would not go on if she had the radio turned on. Not being an automotive expert, I saw no reason to doubt her word especially since I have heard many similar horror stories about car computers in recent years.

I am probably cursing myself, but I have never experienced any computer malfunction with my cars. At least, I do not think so. I am not exactly sure when computers were first installed into cars, so I could be wrong.  However, there was a time, when broken down cars were the story of my life.  I do not think there is a highway on the east coast of the United States that has not been host to one of my breakdowns – auto, not mental.   Even as a kid, our cars broke down.  The big joke heading down to the Jersey shore for vacation was which one of our cars would die on the Garden State Parkway. The weird thing is it always seemed to be the one as I was riding in.

I have to say that when we did break down years ago, there always seemed to be a Good Samaritan ready and willing to help out.  When my sister’s Firebird decided to die in the Cheesequake Rest Area in New Jersey, a police detective from New York City pulled alongside and worked on the car for two hours.  He de-crudded (I think that’s the technical term) wires and tinkered with engine parts until the car started again.  He would not allow us to buy him lunch or even a cup of coffee. We tried to send him a thank you gift, but when I called the precinct the next week where he said he worked, the desk sergeant said no detective by that name worked there. To this day, I cannot be sure if we had one of those guardian angel experiences that are always featured on Unsolved Mysteries or if we narrowly escaped a serial killer.

A while back, my husband and I were driving home from a wedding in upstate New York when our Pontiac Phoenix, (yes, the reason why lemon laws were enacted) started spewing steam.  We pulled over and within minutes a man, who resembled Grizzly Adams, parked his pickup truck behind us.  As someone who was born in the Bronx,  my first gut reaction was to reach for the tire jack in the trunk, but as it turns out, this guy was another Good Samaritan-in- the-making. He examined our engine and saw that our fan belt had fallen off its sprockets.  Then he looked me up and down and said,

“Give me your panty hose.”

“Wh – what?” I stammered.

“Your panty hose. Take them off; I need them.”

Once again, I thought about the tire jack.  My husband instinctively stood in front of me. Then, the car savior saw my face of panic and explained what he needed my stockings for.  He was going to use them to pull the fan belt and position it back on its track.

“Oh, good idea!” my husband exclaimed.  “Take off your stockings and give them to him.”

“We are on a highway!  I am NOT taking them off.”
“Go in the back seat and take them off, so we can get back on the road.”

I really had a problem giving this man panty hose that I was just wearing. Come on, it is not like I was on a first name basis with him, and he didn’t even buy me dinner first.  Instead, in the spirit of preserving what was left of my dignity, I walked back to the trunk, unzipped my suitcase and retrieved a new pair of stockings –my black, lace-top, thigh-high stockings from Victoria’s Secret. Yes, I was embarrassed to hand over these little lovelies, but I felt it was better to let the man have fantasies about me later than to have the real deal watching me strip in the backseat of my car.

Anyway, do you know that the stocking stunt worked?  Grizzly Adams got the fan belt back on its sprockets, and the car was fine to make it home. I let him have my thigh highs as a gift.  He laughed but both my husband and I noticed that he stuffed them in his pants pocket.  Ah well, it was a small sacrifice to make for a car that runs.

Well, Grizzly Adams was another hero who wouldn’t take money, but I had a feeling he was content with my stockings. I think he would have been more content if my husband offered him me, as he had that mountain-man-in-need-of-a-wife look, but luckily, those were negotiations that did not require our participation.

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6 thoughts on “They Don’t Make Car Breakdowns Like They Used To”

  1. I’ve had my share of car troubles. Fortunately most of the mishaps occurred in parking lots or my driveway. At least he didn’t ask for your bra. I do think though, that a jock strap would have worked just as well.

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