The genius of the male race, I think, is that there is no middle ground. When you’re in a tight place, call in a guy and the situation will either be solved in its entirety or it will become much worse. If Beth wasn’t aware of this before Tuesday, she is now.
It all started with a freak flood that occurred in a small, mountain community that swamped the downtown and eroded ground in some areas that could be seen and in some areas that could not.
For example, a stream carved out a channel of soil beneath the pavement of a local parking lot, destabilizing the parking space closest to the stream bank without giving any visible sign that anything was amiss.
It was Beth’s misfortune to park in said space, and as she was preparing to exit the vehicle she noticed that the world around her appeared to be rising. Either that or her front tires were suddenly losing air.
In truth, it was neither.
What happened was that the pavement below the front wheels gave way, and the car sank down to the frame, some 10 feet above the creek. Fortunately it stopped there, meaning Beth was able to escape the precariously perched machine (good) and pick up a friend’s phone and call me (bad).
Her explanation of the situation was met with what we writers generally describe as a pregnant pause.
“Have you called Triple A?”
“No, I want you to take a look at it first.”
I am profoundly touched and honored that Beth believes I can solve any problem that comes her way. But I am depressed to think that my wife would have such poor judgment.
Still, I know when I’m wanted, if not needed (the difference between the two will be readily apparent) so I grabbed the keys to the sedan and walked out of the house. I would have been fine had I not stopped to think, “Wait a minute, instead of the car, I’ll take the 4-wheel drive pickup.”
Flash forward to the parking lot, where I’m assuring Beth that it doesn’t look too bad and — as I am securing the tow strap from the front of the pickup to her SUV’s tow bar — that I’ve seen this done a million times and there’s really nothing to it.
Maybe there’s been a situation in your life when you know you are in over your head, but for a couple of fleeting seconds it looks as if you are about to pull it off anyway? For one glorious instant, I sniffed the sweet Italian hoagie of success, as the Ford began to rise up out of the abyss.
Then the tow strap snapped.
This, of course, sent my truck rocketing backward into the parking lot, but I whirled around in my seat and miraculously dodged the other parked cars. As I was turning back around in the seat, I let out a breath and said, “Whew, that was clo ....”
... And saw that the same force that had sent my truck backward had sent Beth’s forward and, considering her SUV was pointed straight into a chasm, this was certainly not good.
There are greater feelings of helplessness, I suppose, than watching a scene slowly unfold before your eyes for which there are two outcomes, one horrible the other worse than horrible. The SUV rolled slowly forward, then down, then half-way over, its rear end elevating skyward like a see-saw.
And then it stopped.
Miraculously, it balanced there until it could be rescued by the professionals.
Meantime, I thought fast. If there were any chance to reclaim the moral high ground, it was now. With her truck tipping in the balance, I strode purposefully up to Beth and said: “See there? I told you that you should have called Triple A.”
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.