Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baby tag team

One thing I didn't really ever think about before having Ada was what to do if something happened where one of us needed our spouse to get us out of a pickle. Now I know. You become more resourceful and figure it out on your own.

A few weeks ago it was really cold here in Chicago. I mean REALLY COLD. So cold the penguins at the zoo were cuddling up to their space heaters, cold. The newscasters kept advising people to stay inside, keep warm, help your neighbors, yada, yada, yada. I wasn't excited about going out in the cold but I had scheduled a massage and was desperate to give my body a break and rebalance from carrying Ada everywhere -- another thing I never really considered too thoroughly before having a baby...

So I'm getting ready to go get my massage. I convinced Rick it was his turn to clean the snow off the car. Then I go out and get it started. I thought he was going to start it but he didn't want it to run for too long so he waited for me and, whatever, I got it started. I know darn good and well that you are supposed to let it run for several minutes to heat up but I was in a hurry darn it and only let it heat up for 3 to 5 minutes. I'm impatient. What can I say? Three minutes was an eternity for me. Did I mention how cold it was? And I still had to stop at the bank to get cash before my appointment.

I parked in a temporary loading zone in front of the bank, turned on my flashers, sprinted to the ATM, got cash, and sprinted back to the car. Someone was waiting for me to pull out of the spot and I was trying to hurry, as I always do, but when I tried to start the car, I got a sad, pathetic sound from the engine as it attempted to turn over.

Pre-Ada, I would have called Rick, he would have come to save me and I would have spent the time he took to fix the car either shopping or in a coffee shop having a hot coco to warm up. Post-Ada, I had to figure this out and fix it myself. Luckily, I carry jumper cables, am cute, and play a good damsel in distress. That and I tend to think I'm resourceful. Thankfully my cell phone worked and I was wearing two pair of socks.

What does one do in the city in this case? I for one, wasn't quite sure. Back home, I'd call my dad, he'd come get me, we'd call an auto shop, ta da, fixed. In the city, it's different. I called Rick and he wasn't much help. Jump it or tow it was the jist of his advice. He was stuck home with Ada and wasn't about to take her out in the cold to help me. And I don't blame him one bit. I started by having him contact my masseuse to cancel my appointment since resourceful me couldn't find her number in my cell phone. Then I opened the hood and tried to look pathetic. It didn't work. I tried 311 but there was a 1 minute wait and, you know me, I'm impatient and it was really cold outside so I hung up. I did get the jumper cables out of the trunk and I even got the manual out to see what proper technique is for jump starting one's battery. It said I shouldn't try it in this cold of weather because it might rupture the battery. Uh oh.

Who do I know that's a mechanic? Oh, my sister-in-law's boyfriend to the rescue. Matt answered and told me to go ahead and jump it. It will either start or it won't. Problem was getting someone to jump me in this cold weather. I asked 2 cabbies. They denied me. I looked pathetic and helpless. That failed. Oh, it did get a drunk homeless guy carrying a 40 oz in a paper bag to offer to help, but without a car he wasn't of much use. Then I called my friend Bob and put him on notice that I might need him to jump me or rescue me but only if I was really desperate as he lived 15 minutes from where I was and I thought it would be mean to make him come out for this. I told him I'd call him in a few minutes to let him know how it was going. He recommended I call our friend Ted who lives just blocks from where I was but Ted didn't answer his cell in my time of need. Gasp. Then a city police officer(ette) was sitting at a red light across the street and just shook her head at me saying, "sorry, can't help you." So much for " to serve and protect". I was on my own this time.

I was calling Bob back when, to my surprise, a woman pulled over and asked if I needed a jump. She offered me one of those jump-start battery kits from her trunk and it worked. Thank goodness. She's an angel. I promised to pay it forward and drove the car straight home.

Thankfully, I got the car home. Unfortunately, it didn't start the next morning and we ended up having to jump it again to get it to the dealership to get a new battery. Jumping it the second time was easier as I bribed my friend Anne with a burrito from Ceasar's. While we were jumping it, another one of Chicago's finest drove by in a squad car and made sure to point out that we were idiots because Anne didn't have her blinkers on. Then he sped away and spun his tires on the snow. Macho.

It could have been much worse, and much more impossible without the kindness of strangers and good friends in the city.

Moral of the story: Always have friends in the city and faith in the goodness of total strangers...oh, and it helps to have a mechanic friend on speed dial.

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