– by Michael!
“You about ready to switch?”
“Sure! Let’s just pull over here. I need to get something out of my purse, and it’s in the trunk.”
These words changed our wedding day.
Up to this point, it had gone relatively smoothly. I had not passed out or burst into unseemly tears at the altar. Our adorable flower girl had not picked every sequin off of Joanie’s dress either before or during the ceremony. The choir had needed a little bit of help in one of the anthems, so we hummed along with our respective parts with our backs turned to the congregation – but that was really just funny and fitting.
No, our wedding had gone off without a hitch. (Or rather, with just the one hitch! Hyuk, hyuk.) So we were flying low, heading out of Waco and to our hotel near the DFW airport where we would spend our first night as a married couple before flying to Acapulco for our honeymoon.
And then we stopped to switch drivers.
I slid into the driver’s seat as Joanie opened the trunk, grabbed her cell phone out of her purse, and shut the…
Tried to shut…
The trunk would not shut.
Each time we tried, it bounced right back up like a jack-in-the-box on meth.
We inquired at a local gas station in the middle-of-nowhere, Texas as to the availability of a local mechanic.
We called AAA about meeting us at the hotel to fix the problem, and spoke to the single least helpful person I have *ever* contacted for a customer service issue, ever, in the history of ever.
Loyal readers will know that my freak-out-o-meter is set to a lower frequency than Joanie’s, and this was no exception – she hit her “oh crap this is a COMPLETE DISASTER” moment about thirty seconds before I did. But I definitely hit it, and hit it with verve.
Think about it. Our trunk contained no wedding presents or valuables, but if left in the DFW parking lot over the length of our excursion we would be certain to come home to a busted battery at the least. At the worst, somebody could crawl into our trunk and find themselves the proud new owners of an 07 Honda. We were already over 80 miles away from Waco – do we go back, find a way to get our car to a car shop, and try to drive up in a borrowed vehicle or with an escort in the morning? Later that night? Do we call home and get somebody to come meet us halfway to exchange cars? Or maybe somebody who LIVED in Fort Worth could MEET us at the hotel, TAKE our car keys, and FIX the car while we were gone! Or maybe we could grow wings and FLY to the airport and no longer NEED our car!
(Remember, folks, this was after a sleepless night beforehand, a fair amount of ambient “wow I’m actually getting married” stress, and very little food – Dr. Pepper hour only takes you so far.)
There were a lot of “or maybes” thrown out there, at varying but increasing levels of volume, for a while here. Eventually we decided to just keep going, arrange for the extremely unhelpful AAA guy to send somebody to not fix our problem, and, if all else fails, jerry-rig a wire hanger to hold the trunk shut while we were in Mexico and deal with the problem when we returned.
Thus resigned to a probable dead battery, we gamely slogged on toward the airport hotel.
Of course, we were so exhausted that we missed our exit. This did not improve our collective mood. However, as we grumbled around the highway interchange to correct the navigational error, Joanie gripped my arm and shrieked – literally, shrieked – “Holy CRAP Michael that is an open Honda dealership!”
I think we may have prayed more in the subsequent ninety seconds than we did in the entire first month of our marriage. Maybe not, but that’s how it felt. Sure enough, that Honda dealership was open – but, the chagrined sales representative informed us after we explained our situation, the service department was not. It was their New Year clearance sale, he said with great rue, and only salesmen were still on the premises.
I think we must have looked about as crestfallen as we felt, because he said “Hang on, I’ll go talk to the manager and see what we can do here,” then disappeared back into the sales building. He was gone for a while, long enough that we considered giving up and heading for the hotel, but no – here he came, with another gentleman in tow!
The first guy was beaming as he introduced Mike to us. “Mike is a sales rep, but only for the last two months – before that, he worked in the service shop!” Mike smiled, a little bashful at the implied praise and pressure, then asked us to pop the trunk. I obliged and went to stand next to him, doing my best Thoughtful Guy Looking at a Car Problem face – the one every guy in the world has, whether they are actually competent with machinery or are some variation of “me” – and he took a quick look at the trunk’s locking mechanism.
“Oh yeah,” he said, “this happens with this model. Just a popped spring. Should be…” he felt around for a moment, “yup, right here!” And from the floor of the trunk he produced the missing piece, a tiny spring less than a quarter of an inch long. Two seconds later it was back in and, miracle of miracles, our trunk closed.
And stayed that way.
I tipped both of the two Honda guys, over their sincere protests, because “Guys, you just kinda rescued our wedding day and honeymoon. C’mon.” Joanie was crying a little bit, happy and exhausted tears, and I was grinning and giggling and giddy as we left for the hotel.
It’s been three years since then, three years today. For the most part, our days go without a hitch. But even when the trunk pops open, I remember our wedding day and know – I have to know – that there’s nobody with whom I’d rather be in a crisis.
And that there’s got to be a Honda dealer just down the road.