The summer sun was directly overhead and sizzling the pavement beneath the wheels of our green Dodge station wagon. Sharon (7), Blake (5) and Tyler (3) were in the back seat, and Roxanne (2), our golden retriever, was panting away in the back with an injured foot. Our car had no air conditioning, so we were melting fast as I cruised up the freeway off ramp and came to a stop on our way to the veterinary clinic.
The car quickly filled with the smell of moist rust just as the tell-tale Ssssssssssss sound hissed from the heat vents, white steam boiled out from the hood, and the engine died. Crap.
I tried to turn the car back on, but it wasn't meant to be. A maniac behind me started honking his horn like a mad man, and I could see him screaming at me to get out of the way. Let's see, if I put all 3 barefoot little kids on the road behind the car to push, and tied the lame dog to the front with the jumper cables to pull - no, that's not going to work. Three lights later, I was still sitting there, but now I was crying, half in distress, and half in anger at the lack of good samaritans on duty.
Finally a couple of men showed up at my window and told me to put the car in neutral. They pushed me off the road and around the corner, and right up into the yard of the first house on the right! Crap.
I was afraid to leave the kids in the car while I went up to knock on the door, but was afraid to take them (still barefoot) up to the door of a killer's house, too. I opted to leave them sitting in the car with a lame dog to protect them.
I knocked on the door, and a little old man opened it and said, "Are you the person whose car is sitting in my front yard?" Why, yes I am! We had apparently scared him to death, and he had been sneaking peeks at us through his curtains. I explained our situation, and asked if I could use his phone (no cell phone in those days folks). He glared at the kids and dog in the car, looked me up and down, thought about it for a minute, and then drug his phone out on to the front porch for me to use.
While I was busy calling a rescuer, the old man disappeared into the back part of his house. I finished up, yelled "Thank you!" and closed his front door.
I climbed back in the car and told the kids we were going to be in for a long wait, but Dad was on the way. "We're hot!" "Roxanne's breath stinks!" "Wah Wah!"
I turned back around and the little old man was sticking his head in my window - Yikes! Maybe he is a killer! "I thought those kids might be a tad hot in there. And that dog looks hot too."
"Oh, we're okay, thanks anyway." He disappeared back into his house again.
The kids went ballistic. "We are thirsty! We are not okay!" Crap.
A few minutes later scary old man came back to the window with an icy bottle of Coke, a bag of Hershey's miniatures, and a tupperware container of water for Roxanne. He just handed them to me and walked away.
Dilemma #1: If I only give the kids 1 piece of candy like a responsible mother, the rest will melt into a puddle in the car. So I gave them the whole bag and told them to eat them very fast.
Dilemma #2: If the dog drank the water, she was going to pee in the back of the car because there was something wrong with her foot, and there was no way I was letting her out beside a busy freeway. So I gave her the water anyway and held my breath (and eventually my nose).
Dilemma #3: We don't give our kids caffeine. Ever. EVER. They were so thirsty after downing a bag of chocolate, that I let them drink the icy Coke. And they were immediately bouncing all over the car like lunatics. Crap.
Mike eventually showed up in a borrowed car and got us home.
The green station wagon sat in our driveway for at least a year, until it got towed while we were on vacation, which made me very happy.
Thanks scary old man!