Parking lot rescue: prepared citizens can help themselves and others

Picture a silver sedan in a bustling Trader Joe’s parking lot.* Two ladies—perhaps a mother and her adult daughter?—are huddled to one side of the closed trunk, but at the hinge end of the lid instead of the part that opens.

I walked right past them to unload groceries into my van. I was parked in an adjacent space. When I finished putting my things away, I noticed that the ladies hadn’t moved. Their heads were together. It looked like they were trying to solve a problem.

I asked if they needed any help.

Rescue scenario: a trapped set of keys

Here’s what they told me: the younger lady dropped her keys as she pushed down on the lid to close her trunk. The falling keys became trapped between the trunk and its lid. Without the keys, she couldn’t unlock and release the lid in order to free… the keys!

This sedan didn’t have a button inside to release the trunk. It didn’t have a fold down rear seat that opened into the trunk. Even a lady’s slim fingers were too thick to reach fully into the space where the keys were trapped.

It turned out that more was required than simply fishing them out. The keys were actually being pinched between two different parts of the car.

While I was hearing this explanation, another passer-by asked if he could assist.

An aside: This is my America! We help each other in times of crisis.

The ladies filled him in on the scenario while I grabbed the first vaguely tool-shaped object in the back of the van: a 12″ ice scraper. The flat edge could slide between the lid and trunk. They went to work trying to dislodge the keys.

While the original pair and the new helper made this attempt, I delved deeper into the array of equipment I keep in the van for emergencies.

Ammo can in the van: a tool box

Here’s a peek at a collection of useful tools in my vehicle at all times. It’s part of my personal ethos to be prepared. Some gear is switched out seasonally—like the larger SnoBrum† and a full size shovel—but these items never leave the van. Continue reading

Tally’s Hookers tow service to the rescue: a review I wish I had no cause to write

Sometimes, you need a service that you don’t particularly want. Tow trucks are a great example.

Today I’d like to thank Tally’s Auto of Gloucester, MA for timely, courteous service. A young man named Bart* took good care of my disabled vehicle and delivered her safely to my mechanic.

Tow truck Tally's - 1Our typically stalwart minivan let loose a cry of distress last week: the oil pressure warning light illuminated. My Owner’s Manual told me to stop driving immediately and call for help.

If I’m understanding the engine’s workings correctly, without properly pressurized oil circulating, an engine can be destroyed within minutes. Obviously, we don’t want that.

The good news is, it was a sensor failure, not an engine problem. Electronics are expensive to fix, but I needn’t fear hidden engine damage from the ½ mile I drove looking for a safe place to pull over along the highway.

Whilst looking up the URL for Tally’s, I realized that towing service reviews are often pretty harsh. Many people seem to equate the towing of their illegally parked vehicles with dishonest service providers.

I’m grateful that the service I needed was available when and where I called for it. My bulky van was in a tricky spot on a winding road, and Bart* handled the situation with aplomb.

Hurrah for the unsung heroes of the highway.


*His name might’ve been Brad. I was frazzled.