virtual mechanic to the rescue
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During COVID-19, A New Career?

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Stuart’s daughter, Meredith, arrived at 5:30 in the morning to drive us to Johns Hopkins Hospital for his hip replacement surgery scheduled for 7:30. Because they would not allow me to enter the hospital due to COVID, coupled with my poor night vision (I mean really! 5:30?), we made these arrangements so I wouldn’t have to drive.

My husband, Stuart, parks his 2002 blue Toyota (which he still calls “Baby” in spite of her age) in his usual spot, the middle of the driveway. At some point, I’ll be bringing him home (hope it’s sooner, rather than later). I want to move his “baby” up to the end of the driveway to leave more room for me to park my car. I don’t know how much help he might need getting out of my car, up the steps and into the house walking on his newly replaced hip.

When I got in his car, the seat was far back. Not surprising since Stuart is almost six feet tall. I, however, am not quite five feet. But I didn’t want to move the seat and then try to put it back where it belongs. So, I scooted to the edge of the seat feeling like I was five years old again trying to reach the pedals of my older sister’s bike!

I put the key in the ignition and tried to turn it. It would not move. I tried pushing it in further, turning it backwards. Nothing. This happened to me once in my car and someone told me a trick to get it to move, but that was years ago. I can’t remember yesterday; how am I supposed to remember years ago?

What to do? I called my brother Chuck, the mechanic. Got voicemail. Then I called my brother Richard, who is not a mechanic, but he and Chuck have been running Bermans’ Automotive for years. Surely something must have rubbed off. Richard answered on the second ring, and I explained my dilemma.

“Is the car parked uphill or down?” he asked.

“Neither,” I said. “It’s in the driveway which is level.”

“It has to be one or the other.” Driveways are never flat.”

“Well, I guess it’s more uphill than down.”

“Okay, that’s good. Here’s what you do: get in the car and close the door. Step on the brake. Then put the key in the ignition and turn the steering wheel either left or right, whichever way it will go. It’s only going to move a fraction of an inch, but hold it there and start the engine.”

I went out to the car and did exactly what he said. Lucky I’ve been doing online Beachbody exercises during COVID ‘cause it was not easy to pull and hold that wheel. But, voila, the car started! I pulled all the way up to the edge of the driveway (not an easy task since I could barely reach the pedal with my big toe), got out, locked the car and came in the house. I texted Richard, “It worked! Thank you,” adding a smiley face with hearts for eyes and a thumbs up.

Here’s what he texted back: “Virtual mechanic. Second career?”

Ah, inventiveness during COVID-19!

Read more by Linda Miller.

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