Out here in suburbia, it’s very hard to live without a car. But sometimes it’s hard living with one, too.
Take what happened to me the other day, at the bank. Or on the way to the bank, I should say, because I never actually got there.
I had been running errands all around town, picking up some dry cleaning here, mailing a package there, until finally, I drove to the bank to deposit the check that was supposed to fuel the day’s festivities. (I should have done that first, of course, but that’s a story for a different column.)
The thing is, I couldn’t get out of the car! Oh, my feet were working well enough, and the parking brake engaged, and the door opened just fine…but the seat belt latch thing wouldn’t release.
I tried again. I started the car, then stopped it, took my keys out of the ignition, and pushed the red “seat belt release” button again.
Again, nothing happened. The little red button went down, and back up, but the seat belt stayed latched. I tried yet again… and was still belted in, as tightly as ever. Tighter, in fact, because by this time the seat belt had decided, “There’s obviously a crash coming,” and had gone into that mode where it tightens up and gives no slack at all.
In other words, I was trapped inside my own car … taken hostage by a safety device that is supposedly there to protect me.
I suppose I could have tried to make the deposit at the drive-through window…except, the last time I used that, I dropped my bank card out the car’s window, and it fell between the machine and my car all the way to the ground, and I had to pull forward a bit, then quickly get out of the car and wave like a maniac so the car behind me wouldn’t pull up and run over my bank card before I had a chance to pick it up.
That wasn’t happening this time, not with this insane seat belt trapping me in my seat. But what were my choices?
My children don’t know what “going to the bank” even means! If they have to deal with a paper-and-ink check at all, they just take a picture of it, zap it to the bank, and voila, money appears in their account. You can tell how freaked out I was that I was even considering this as an option… if I could download the right “app” from my seat in the car. But I would still have to get out of that car, at some point.
Maybe I could saw through the seatbelt? I do have a Swiss Army knife on my keychain. Of course, it’s the manicure size, and I’d probably die of dehydration before attaining freedom….
Finally, I realized it was still daylight, and maybe I could find someone to “talk turkey” to my seat belt gizmo.
I drove straight to Bill’s Auto — making them, literally, my “go-to” garage. As I drove, I realized I wouldn’t be able to jump out of the car and walk into their office, the way I usually do. I would have to think of some other way to get their attention.
That’s why I drove right up their forecourt, blocking all their other customers; rolled down my window; and started waving my hand and singing the Beatles’ song “Help! I need somebody! Help, not just anybody! Help, you know I need someone, Help!”
Eventually, a mechanic came over and offered to wrestle with the seatbelt thing. I wanted to get out of the car and give him more room to work — but of course, I couldn’t, that was the whole point.
At last, the thing let go, and they could “Help me get my feet back on the ground.”
The garage said they’d order a replacement part, and all I have to do is stay out of trouble till it arrives.
Of course, there’s no point telling that to me. It’s entirely up to the car!
I am just a little concerned that when they do take the old mechanism out, they’ll find that the only problem is some Skittles in there, gumming up the works; and I’ll have to explain to my husband how the boys managed that when I don’t let them near my car….
I’ll have to sing: “Baby you can drive my car…and maybe I’ll love you!”