I Decided To Let Him Live

I Decided To Let Him Live

Husbands Think Differently

Last week and Saturday were busy, so when Sunday finally rolled around with nothing on my agenda I decided to really relax. In fact, at 1 p.m. I was still in my pajamas, noodling around on Facebook.

And then came a cell phone call showing “unknown caller.” We all know what that means. It’ll be a sales call or someone we don’t know, right? Normally, I wouldn’t even pick up. But this one had a local calling area, so I did. Good thing. It was my husband calling from a Home Depot, where he’d gone to buy some specialized light bulbs. He was using a Home Depot phone because, despite my urging, he never takes his cell phone anywhere.

So why the call? He was stranded. His 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe was dead. He said he needed his multi-purpose battery charger. It’s a bright orange device he charges with electricity, then uses to pump up car and bicycle tires, jump a dead battery and a number of other things.

Well, I dressed as quickly as possible, fumbled in the garage until I found the charger, and then headed out in my 2001 Toyota Camry. This particular Home Depot isn’t all that close and not surprisingly I hit every light. Isn’t that always the case when urgency is foremost in your mind? But once I found the Home Depot I spotted my husband in the store’s vast, hugely busy and annoying parking lot.

His car hood was pointed toward the heavens and he was standing beside it. Better yet — and this has to be a first — the spot across from him was vacant. I saw a driver coming from the other direction, clearly intent on the same place. Somehow, though, I managed to edge in first. I didn’t look to see if the person shot me the finger, which is not an uncommon practice during fierce parking lot competitions. All I knew is that my car and my husband’s car were now nose-to-nose and in position for whatever came next.

Hubby retrieved his orange charger from my car and quickly learned that it wouldn’t do a thing. He asked me to pop my hood and then my trunk. It seemed clear he now needed my standard jumper cables so he could hook us up and my car would breathe life into his SUV’s battery long enough for it to fire up.

Guess what? I had no jumper cable in my trunk. Oh, it used to be there and I am obsessively diligent about putting things back where they belong when done with a task that calls for said things. Hubby, alas, is not like that. The fact that he didn’t have jumper cables in his car didn’t surprise me at all and I know with certainty that he’d taken mine at some point or another. I may or may not have muttered a smart-ass comment, the latter being more likely. But I turned off my car and got out to stand with him while we pondered our next move.

The sun, fiercely beating down and firing temperatures of 86 degrees on us, was starting to take its toll on me even before I got out of my car. You know it’s impacting you when rivulets of sweat are making their way into your bra. Not only that, but I’m supposed to avoid sun and in fact I’m without question the most pasty white person in Florida.

So here we were, in a sweltering, hectic parking lot. I told hubby to go back into the store and see if he could find jumper cables. (Of course, had this been me, I would’ve immediately looked for someone who looked sympathetic and asked if that person would mind giving me a jump. Hubby is not like that.)

Happily, though, Home Depot not surprisingly does carry jumper cables and he returned with a set and started hooking up our vehicles. When he finished I got back in my car and started it up. He got back in his and turned his key to fire up his vehicle, too.

But no. The only noise was a metallic click coming from his car and though I know almost nothing whatsoever about car mechanics, that sounded like the telltale sound of a dead starter. Who hasn’t heard at least that?

So now what? I pondered the possibilities for about five seconds and then remembered that I’ve been a member of AAA Roadside Assistance since 2007. I pulled the all-important card out of my wallet.

Mind you, I’ve used AAA maybe twice and each time renewal rolls around, my husband gripes mightily about the necessity for it. He sees it as a total waste of money. But here’s the thing: AAA doesn’t care what the situation is. The fact that the issue was with my husband’s car and not mine didn’t stop the company from dispatching a tow truck, which a nice woman on the phone said would take 45 minutes. Oh, good. Just 45 more minutes in the blazing heat. Still, rescue was on its way.

We did consider going into the air-conditioned store, but neither of us wanted to challenge the gods and miss the truck when it did arrive. Yes, although a remote possibility, imagine if the truck actually arrived early! Understand, any Home Depot parking lot is enormous and chaotic . The idea of not spotting the tow truck was untenable.

By now, I was literally quivering from a combination of the heat, irritation and having had nothing to eat yet. My husband headed to the front of the store, where there’s always a hot dog vendor outside the entrance. Mind you, hot dogs are essentially on my banned list, no matter how much I might like them. Thing is, they do hideous things to my intestinal system, but any food and beverage he bought me was essential to my ability to carry on with this vastly annoying misadventure on my golden day off.

Meanwhile, I rolled down all my car windows to allow whatever hot air was stirring to reach me. Unfortunately, the midday sun was moving ever closer to where I was sitting, even when I moved to the passenger seat. That evil sun was intent on burning me if at all possible. Eventually, I powered up my car and turned on the air conditioning, wasteful or not. That didn’t stop the sun from continuing its snake-like climb higher up on me, but it slowed the potential for dehydration. (Note to self: Write to Home Depot and tell the giant of fix-it products to plant some trees for shade.)

There was nothing to do while we waited. Oh, I did watch at least five or six men come to check if they could help my husband. (See, it’s okay if someone offers to help my husband. Otherwise, no. He won’t ask for help. Just who he is.) The kind strangers, head to head with my husband, would lean into the engine area of his car and fiddle with stuff, disappointed when they, too, could not make the battery perform magic or voodoo or whatever it might take to start the vehicle up. I watched them and enviously also watched people breezily come and go in vehicles that started up with nary a complaint. I took note that most vehicles are SUVs or pick-up trucks. That seems true almost anywhere I go these days. Small, energy efficient, save-the-planet vehicles? Not so much in South Florida.

As for those forty-five minutes? They came and went and twenty minutes later I called AAA again. Where was our rescue? Ah! Well, the AAA trucks were running late, stuck with others in need of help. That didn’t mollify me much, but the only option was to continue waiting.

An hour and a half later the tow truck finally arrived. The driver was friendly, fast and as efficient as possible. Of course, no matter what he did he had no choice but to block other vehicles while he clamped giant hooks to my husband’s Hyundai and slid the SUV up a ramp to the top of his truck. We watched him glide away, then went to my Camry. I tossed my keys to my husband and told him he could drive. We were on our way home. He would drop me off there, then meet the tow truck driver at a designated car shop for whatever repair was necessary.

He adjusted the seat and mirrors and slid in, then made an announcement: My car door handle had split in half when he pulled it to open the door. Seriously?? Now understand, I didn’t blame my husband for this. It would’ve happened to me as well. I blame the South Florida heat, the 16-year-old age of the car and bad biorhythms on this particular day — my day in which nothing beyond relaxation was on my agenda. Instead, altogether I’d lost nearly three precious hours to Murphy’s Law.

We’re destined to retrieve my husband’s SUV sometime this afternoon. Oh. And the repair shop? Someone will call around to see if the shop can get a new handle for my car. Meanwhile, I hope that in order to go anywhere I don’t have to get in on the passenger side and somehow clamber over the gear stick and console area to get to the driver’s side. That would not be comfortable, though I’m quite sure someone could take a video that would go viral.

Post script: I bet my husband $20 that the problem with his vehicle was the starter. He insisted it wasn’t actually the starter, but something attached to it. Guess what? It’s the starter. He paid up and I decided to let him live. Hey, it could be worse. I could be married to someone as boring and predictable as I am and then I’d have to kill myself because I can’t think of anything worse.