No one can enter or exit the parking lot. It’s 8:30am, the car carrier is still sitting against the security gate’s pole and the gate itself is opening and closing on itself and the empty carrier. Traffic on Shelby starts picking up.
I try lifting.
It lifts, but Caren is too tired to push it.
I try pushing, it won’t budge, because Caren is too tired to lift it.
I’m ready to break down and cry when a kindly stranger appears. OK, that’s not true. I’m ready to scream and kick the carrier when a guy walked up and I was embarrassed that I wanted to act like a baby.
He lifts, I push and slowly the carrier starts to move. First one inch, then two, then three. We shift our weight and try to get it to turn. The twisted piece of metal that was once the wheel well rubs against the warm rubber tire making a noise and a smell that reminded me of how well the morning was going.
No longer pointed at the gate’s pole, we set it free. It rolled into the street. We now had enough room to move the truck out of the parking lot.
Looking at the now very dented wheel well, I suddenly become aware that every tool I own (nee.. every THING I own) is packed away in the moving van – not that I owned a dent puller or a crow bar or anything remotely appropriate, but at this point even a hammer would be helpful.
Caren says “Oh!”, turns around, and leaves me to bake in the morning sun while I stand in the street with cars swerving around our disabled carrier.
A minute later she returns with a tool.
That’s about as specific I can get.
“This is all I can get to”, she declares while handing it to me.
It’s a piece of the Element’s jack. The crank, I think. It’s not really a tire tool, not really a crow bar, and not really helpful, but it was all we had.
The surgery didn’t have to be beautiful, it just had to work. After twenty minutes of each of us giving it all the strength we had, the metal was no longer rubbing against the tire.
More cars drive around us, slowing down to see what we’re up to.
We decide that the best way to proceed would be to attach the car carrier to the moving van, then park the duo against the curb.
Caren, now behind the wheel of a 15-foot moving van filled to almost double capacity, turns the key. The truck is brand new. We are just the second people to rent it. The engine comes to life and the hulk moves forward, down the slope of the parking lot, past the car carrier in the street, and into the driveway of the building across from us.
She cuts the wheel to the left, and drops it into reverse. With the expertise of a pro, she backs the van up to the trailer putting the hitch directly where it need to be. My jaw drops.
I think back to my trailer-hitch training from my childhood.
The hook thingee goes over the ball thingee… check! The ball thingee gets locked. Hmmm… how do you lock one of these things? It doesn’t look like the one I had growing up. I guess I should have watched the instructional video more than once and closer to moving day rather than six weeks before the move, right before my first viewing of Shrek 2.
I push, I pull, I stand on the thing…. nothing seems to lock it. Then I twist it to the left and it pops into place! Will it come unlocked? That question won’t be answered for 2300 miles. I put the safety pin in place so it won’t unlock on it’s own and continue the hooking up process.
I attach the brake cable to the van so the trailer will have brakes (it’s kinda important), and open the wire box for the final connections. It looked as if R2-D2 had thrown up in there. As I fight with the wires, a large cement truck pulls out of the construction zone down the street and starts coming toward us…