Clutching at Straws My Life 26 AUG 2008

HitchHikerYou would think that a day can’t really get more disastrous than that atrocious loss the Springboks endured against those Aussies, their first win here on our home soil against us in absolute ages, but unfortunately Saturday was not quite done with me yet!

As I mentioned earlier, Chantelle was working a full day shift and so she only got home quite late in the evening, exhausted and ready for bed. However, my liefie had a craving for McDonalds McNuggets and so I agreed to accompany her through to the McDonalds, a couple of kilometres further down Faure Marine drive from where we are.

So we hopped into the Jetta, she ready for bed and I still in my slipslops, shorts and T-shirt and off we drove looking forward to our little late night treat. However, that little treat was not meant to be because just short of three kilometres down the road, my clutch suddenly went limp and I subsequently lost all gear changing ability. Wonderful.

I haven’t had a snapped clutch cable since the one on my Monza went while delivering pizzas all those years ago, so you can tell that I was rather less than pleased.

About 21:30 on a Saturday night, pitch dark and without roadside assistance (that I know of) or friends in the area to come help us out, what choice did we have but to grab our stuff, throw on the car’s indicators and start hitchhiking back home in order to pick up Chantelle’s little Getz and tow my stranded Jetta home. Now the walk itself isn’t a problem, but when one is not exactly dressed for the occasion then it becomes a mission. Like for Chantelle in her fluffy slippers, stretchy long pants that keeps falling down and oversized tracksuit top, the 2.8 km walk (we measured) was not exactly heaven on Earth.

Luckily for us though a motorist who was stopped at the traffic light in front of us took pity on our plight and he gave us a lift back over the last kilometre or so, cutting our walk considerably shorter and at the same time giving me less time to fume because by that stage I was RATHER ‘hot under the collar’ so to speak.

A quick changeover into some more suitable attire and shoes, brushing off our neighbour who happened to be outside and wanted to talk kittens, we jumped into the Getz and raced off to the Jetta’s extraction, with me breathing a huge sigh of relief when we came around the bend and my car was actually still there and in one piece!

Next on the list of problems though was actually finding my Jetta’s front tow eye – I’m not sure how long I was out in front of the car, torch in hand and scouring the underbelly before I finally gave in and broke into my cubbyhole (the handle to open it is long since broken) to release the all-knowing manual which thankfully I make a point of keeping in the car.

It turns out that to tow the Jetta I need to pry loose the fog light panels next to the indicator light and then screw in the tow eye that is kept with the car’s jack in the back, a process I would never have guessed and in fact a process that neither Ryan nor Pops could take a stab at either!

Thank God that a couple of years ago I decided that I need to keep more emergency stuff in my car and that a tow rope was amongst my purchases, because I triumphantly pulled it out of my boot to proudly show off to Chantelle, only for my moment of triumph to turn into a moment of worry because I noticed that the two metal sides were in fact in the process of rusting. Just wonderful.

Nevertheless, I attached the ends to Chantelle’s Getz and my Jetta and we were off, this being Chantelle’s first ever attempt at towing someone. What we didn’t count on however was the fact that my 1.6 1997 Jetta seems considerably heavier that Chantelle’s little 1.6 Getz and we actually struggled to pull my car along, leading to more than a few mini heart attacks every time the Getz jerked to a semi-halt trying to pull my car from a standstill.

Nevertheless, we made the 2.8 kilometres back to Nagua Bay safely enough, but the night still had one last surprise in store for us. Just past the security boom and the first speed bump and our first stall. It would seem try as we might, the little Getz just couldn’t pull my behemoth up (I seriously should lose weight!) and after suffering enough, I yelled for Chantelle to stop and I exited to unhitch the cars.

So Saturday night, Nagua Bay was alive with the sounds of Craig merrily pushing the Jetta through the complex, taking nice run ups to hoist the car over the speed bumps and then cruising to the next one with Chantelle sitting nice and comfy behind the steering wheel. A final team effort to push the car up the last little hill and we were home safe and sound, exhausted after a rather stressful ordeal.

Thank goodness those McNuggets we went back for tasted good.

Oh, and it doesn’t help that I learnt the next day that I theoretically should have been able to drive the car home by starting it up in second – a fact that I was completely and utterly unaware of :(

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.