About 12:30 last night, as I sat trying to make knitting headway on that little sweater (which is crawling along) and contemplating Sir Washie’s future, the phone rang. I answered, since a phone call at 12:30am usually means something very interesting is happening, and lo – it surely was.
Joe: You’re not going to believe this.
Now, it’s a week before Christmas, the washer’s broken, we’re under the gun to get Christmas ready, I’m on a “knitting schedule”, the news is calling the snowstorms headed our way “Snow-maggedon”, and we just found out that neither of us is getting paid before the end of the year. There’s not much that I wouldn’t believe at this point, and Joe knows that – so “You’re not going to believe this” is a pretty bold statement.
Me: Ok. Go.
Joe: I’ve got the pickup stuck at my Mum and Dad’s and I can’t get it out.
Now – see that? He’s right. Joe’s from Newfoundland. He can drive in any amount of snow. Joe never gets stuck. Ever. Dude knows how to drive in any amount of stuff, and he’s experienced enough to not drive if it’s really not possible. If Joe’s actually stuck, then I am stunned. I’m also knitting, and it’s after midnight and it’s cold, so I’m also really not buying that he needs me to get him out. If Joe can’t handle a driving problem, I really can’t.
Joe: Seriously. Baby, I’m stuck.
Me: Why don’t you try a little longer, and if it turns out you’re really stuck, then I’ll walk over.
– because frankly… I just can’t believe he is. I believe that what Joe’s actually saying to me can be translated more like “Honey, I’m frustrated so I wanted to share, but I’ll work it out like I always do because – well, I’m Joe.” I mumble something sort of sympathetic, like “I’m sure you’ll get it” and hang up the phone and finish my row. It’s about 20 minutes later when the phone rings again, and I’m pretty sure it’s Joe calling to tell me that he’s out, and I should never mind and he’ll be home in a minute.
Joe: Baby, you gotta come help me. I’m really stuck. I’m so stuck. This is Bad.
Bad? Joe doesn’t get into bad trouble backing out of a parking spot at his Mum’s. It’s not like she lives in rural Ontario and he could be in a ditch. It’s not like there could be a 10 foot snowdrift he’s stuck in or he’s got the car hanging off a cliff over the sea. He’s 3 minutes from home in a back alley drive. Bad?
Joe: You gotta come.
Me: Joe, what’s going on?
Joe: Well, I was trying to back out, but there was a BMW, so I didn’t want to hit it, you know? So I pulled up between the garage and the light pole, but the truck slipped on the snow and ice.
Me: Slipped? Why don’t you get out and dig yourself out? Why don’t you give up and we’ll deal with it in the morning?
Joe: I told you Steph. It’s really bad.
We keep talking, and here’s what I come to understand. I have drawn you a small map.
Joe had the pickup truck (which is a completely eccentric piece of junk which starts every day because there has been a small miracle) parked at the bottom of his parents garage. There was a BMW (which we can’t afford to breathe on, never mind hit) parked behind him, so he pulled forward slightly, between the light pole and the garage, and was then going to reverse out. Unfortunately for Joe, as he drove forward, a most unexpected thing happened. The light rear end of the truck suddenly fishtailed out, the front end swung in (what with them being attached like they are) and whammo…
The truck was suddenly and entirely wedged in between the garage and the lightpole – which are – in a remarkable co-incidence, spaced exactly as far apart as the truck is wide. Joe pulled forward, spun on the ice, tried to rock back, spun on the ice and somehow, in a trick that reminds me of that crazy Chinese Finger Trap, only succeeded with every miniscule move he was able to make, in wedging the truck more deeply between the garage and pole.
Every move he made smashed the sides of the truck in more, and by the time he called me, he was entirely and hopelessly stuck and further to that, had reconciled himself to the fact that any solution at all was going to involve ripping the mirrors off and further demolishing the sides of the thing. (Which, it turns out, he preferred to wreaking the side of his parents garage, because even at 40, wreaking your Dad’s stuff is A Big Deal.)
He couldn’t leave the truck because his parents couldn’t get their car out, and they’re flying out of town today (and also, it would be best if they didn’t see this, just for the sake of the parental/child relationship) and just to make sure that this event had reached catastrophic proportions, he was blocking the alley so that nobody in the whole neighbourhood could get their cars out. He was right. I didn’t believe it, and it Was Bad.
Me: Holy %^&*(!
Joe: Exactly. You gotta come over here.
Me: Okay. Walk over and get me and I’ll try to rock it and you can push it.
The silence is deafening. Joe isn’t he sort of man who shirks for a second at walking over to get me at 1am.
Is he too frustrated? Is he too upset? I don’t want to walk over alone.
Joe: Steph. You don’t understand.
Me: Sure I do. Truck stuck. Very Bad. What aren’t you telling me?
Joe: Steph. Think about it.
Joe: Steph. The truck is wedged between the pole and the garage.
Me: Got it.
Joe: Honey…. I can’t open the doors.
This finishes me. Entirely. I’d managed to hold it together until then, but that does it. The man has somehow gotten his truck wedged in an impossible situation, and not only have things gone from bad to worse, minute by minute, but this whole time, for the hour that he’s been trying to find a way out of it….
he has been trapped in the truck and avoiding telling me.
I collapse on the floor, practically laughing myself sick. I keep laughing as I pull on my boots, coat and mittens. I keep laughing as I jog the 5 minutes over to his parents. I’ve almost got ahold of myself as a round the corner to the alley, but dissolve helplessly again when I see him. Truck wedged, sides deeply lacerated, mirrors askew, deep holes dug into the dirt and snow beneath it – with my husband sitting patiently – trapped in the dark.
(For some reason- he isn’t really laughing much.)
I shove the truck hard while he rocks it, and somehow we manage to get it out of the rut its dug and he can finally back up. (We do not hit the BMW.) I come around and join him in the truck, and we begin to drive silently home. As we round the corner and he slows the pickup, it shudders a little and makes a new noise, another variation on an automotive death rattle, sort of a “urrrrhhhhgggg” and it lurches around a bit. I look at Joe. He looks ahead. We drive. At the stop sign we slow again, and the truck repeats it’s mechanical-sea-cow-with-indigestion noise, and this time I asked Joe when that started. “At the 30 minutes stuck mark.” he replies, and we drive on.
We get home and park, walk together quietly towards the house, and I’m thinking about his ordeal. Any other person, I think, would have expressed some sort of hostility or loud frustration by now, but Joe’s a good natured rock. If it had been me, trapped like that, trashing a truck in the dead of night, obstructing traffic and listening to the transmission try to vomit itself out of the hood, you would have found me crazed in the thing. Thrashing around screaming in a way that would have shamed the snot out of my mother… and she can compete at the Olympic level of obscenity herself, should the occasion demand it. I think about that, and the bruises both the pickup and I would bear from my fists smashing off the interior in rage had it happened to me.. .and I look at Joe. “You ok?” I ask him, trying to broach the idea that if he had a little anger to share I would listen, and he looks at me. He pulls off his boots. He smiles a bit, and he says:
“Honey. That was a little demoralizing.”
I love this guy.