Student Driver Part II–Arabella’s Revenge

If you have read my previous blog on student driving, you are familiar with my peculiar little car, Arabella Arsewhette. She has been living up to her name over the last little while as we have had a bit of rain, and of course the occupants have her last name as a reminder throughout the day of her benevolence in providing us with transportation during the rainy season. I’m sure that the roof only leaks because the wee car is crying tears of joy at her continued existence . . .

After her near death experience and issues with over consumption of oil, Arabella seemed to be treading the straight and narrow as we headed towards the Easter weekend, her own resurrection bordering on the miraculous too.

Or so it seemed.

A seemingly small incident would lead to a larger one. I, dear reader, was heading off to a soccer “banquet” for the boys’ soccer team I coach. I say “banquet” because that word conjures up fine china, elegant clothes, and tasteful music accompanying a dinner fit for royalty. This “banquet” was of the “pizza and pop in a gym” kind. Not that I have a problem with that, but I do think a better word must be available. I was looking forward to it, well prepared for what I was heading into, always proud of my boys.

I had stopped to pick up something on the way, and returning to the car with my shopping bag slung on my shoulder, I put the key in the lock of Arabella’s driver’s-side door, and, as luck would have it, the bag slipped gracefully off my shoulder, hardly touching my arm on the way down, and came to rest on the key in the lock. My first thought was for the bottle of wine in the bag that was on its way to a nasty intercession with gravity. That concern was soon banished as I saw that Arabella had saved the wine! Good girl, I thought as I clutched the bag and carefully pulled out the key.

It was distinctly bent. Ninety degrees. I stared at it in disbelief. I must admit, the vagaries of fate played through my head. How was I going to get to the banquet now? Who would believe this story?

Could I straighten the key?

Action must be taken! After all, I had several small boys depending on my arrival, not to mention their parents who would be glad of the rest. Throwing caution to the wind, I resolved that I would bend the key back. I knew this was risky, having some understanding of the principle of metal fatigue gained through an adventurous childhood (unsupervised as we were). To my surprise, it was easy to do. This should have served as a warning, dear reader, but I was happy to be able to get on my way, the bottle of wine carefully stowed for later.

Some days later, Good Friday, in fact, Arabella would get her revenge for my considering her demise over her oil consumption and possibly failing engine. It was after all, not her fault she had a dickey ticker, and I really should have kept my thoughts to myself and not worried the old girl with her health problems.

After a lovely afternoon at Butchart Gardens with my friend, her daughter, and my faithful Jack Russell, Barnum (the name says it all, it is a circus, and yes there are many tales and tails), we stopped to get some groceries for dinner exhausted from the contemplation of the beautiful fauna at the Gardens and in need of sustenance. I opened the trunk to put in the items we had purchased. Somehow, the trunk lid shot up and I was left, dear reader, holding half a key. The other half was in Arabella’s possession, still in the lock. I looked at my friend in disbelief, and must admit that a word one should not utter (especially in front of children), almost passed my lips. Her daughter smiled nervously. “Oh dear,” we all said.

There was only one thing to do. Arabella was also in possession of Barnum, still in the car and wondering what all the fuss was about. It was a warm day. He must be rescued from the clutches of the apparently vengeful car. I called the possessor of the other key. No luck. She was at work, unreachable and not due off for some time, my text stating that there was a “slight emergency” unheeded.

There was only one thing to do.

I would break in, extract the dog, and we would walk the short distance home till the other key could be procured. Simple.

Arabella had other ideas.

Arabella is an old, 1991, VW Golf Cabriolet. She has a hatch. It is not a trunk, nor much of a hatch. It is more like a cat flap with a lock. This was the only way in. I knew the back deck was removable. From the inside of the car, not the trunk. But it could be done. It must be.

Handing my purse to my friend gravely, we made eye contact for a second, the importance of this moment all to evident, “Don’t worry, I’ll look after the young ‘uns,” she said, saluted, and bravely stepped back out of danger.

I was dressed for “The Great Dog Rescue,” in a long skirt, a blouse, little heels, and a sweater, my sunglasses pushed up on my head. Trés chic. Hiking my skirt up, I prostrated myself on the wet ground behind Arabella and thrust myself into the back entrance. It was a tight fit. There was no room to manoeuvre at all. With a great deal of banging, and some words that cannot be reproduced here for fear of offending tender ears, I managed to get the back deck off its hinges, using both my head and my hands to force the deck up and forward into the car and onto the crate the dog was anxiously fast asleep in, thus forcibly entering the car.

Emerging in the back seat, or at least my top half, I was treated to the anxious eyes of my friend and her daughter as they had watched my epic struggle with my naughty car, eyewitness to an act of unsurpassed bravery. I reached up a hand and unlocked the door from inside, and we rescued Barnum. He did not seem so impressed, stretching and yawning as he got out, with a “what took you so long?” look. I must admit here that this was not my first attempt at breaking and entering, again, a tale for another time, and I have become quite good at it.

Remarkably, both cars parked on either side of us had people in them who did not bat an eye. They didn’t even seem to notice the drama unfolding in front of them, too mesmerised by their phones, apparently. From this, I have learned that one of two things apply: Either the public actually don’t care, or if one is going to become a car thief, being well dressed deters suspicion. I suggest aiming for something a bit posher than an aging, vengeful, leaking, quirky car if you are going into a life of crime.

Arabella had got her revenge. We trudged home in the now lightly falling rain, bags of groceries in hand as wee Barnum skipped along, happy to be out and about rather than in the car. It was not till nightfall that the other key holder was available to bring Arabella Arsewhette home, somewhat dishevelled, as was I, but none the worse for wear. As I look at her in the driveway, she seems to have a cheeky cant to her stance, a smug look on her grill, or maybe it is something else . . .

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