Gladys sits in the yard in her usual parking space, but today there are tears in her headlights.
My 1991 Olds Ciera suffered a serious setback on a recent Saturday morning, just when exciting plans were made for her after we made a delivery to the local dump and drove to Adrian for an inside/outside bath for Gladys.
When I told a neighbor that I was driving Gladys to the Rollin Township dump he sarcastically asked, "Are you leaving her there?" I have taken a lot of teasing over the years because I continue to keep her for sentiment more than to drive. Gladys was the first car I purchased new and paid cash for. The purchase was also a lesson in "shopping around." After looking at a car in a lot on one side of Toledo, I drove across town and saved $1,000 for the exact same model. It made a lasting impression.
But the value of Gladys now is nowhere near $1,000. I know that because from time to time people make ridiculous offers.
On a recent Saturday the old car's mission was to transport carpet that was removed from the sun porch to the dump. Now the carpet is still in Gladys's trunk because we only made it about five miles from home. Then, without warning, she burped a couple of times, choked, gasped for air, and stopped dead on the country road.
Had I obeyed the rule to never leave home without the cell phone? Of course not. I was forced to depend on a stranger for help. After I waved at a few cars, one stopped and backed up. A woman alone on a country road wonders if she can trust a stranger, but taxi service in these parts is nil. Not to worry. I lucked out. Randy Deiger got out of the van and eagerly offered to help. The Deigers are Toledoans, but they are also longtime Posey Lake weekenders, so driving me home was an easy request.
Before leaving Gladys, Randy moved her off the road and turned on the signal lights. Silly me, I told Gladys when I left with Randy that I would get help ASAP and be right back.
Michigan AAA was willing to help, but the rule is, someone has to be with the car in distress. That would be me, who else? Henry, the 2003 Mercury, and I hurried back to Gladys.
That put me on the side of the country road with two cars. During the 45 minutes that I (we) waited for a tow truck to arrive, the number of cars and trucks that passed by without stopping was amazing. After 27 vehicles, including two four-wheelers and three semis, ignored my plight, I quit counting.
The tow truck arrived just minutes after it was scheduled, which was to the driver's credit on a NASCAR race day. The driver had no trouble finding us on Townley Road at the Burton Road crossroad. He was a firefighter for 22 years and knows the roads like a map maker. I hoped that Gladys simply ran out of gas, but after being given the two gallons (a $6 cost) that the driver brought, there was little response from the car.
A decision had to be made. Which garage should the wrecker deliver the car to?
No garage, thank you. Take Gladys home. She will get better. It takes longer to heal as you get older. Besides, the carpet is still in her trunk and the dump is open every Saturday. And, no, I am not delivering the car with the carpet.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.