Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stuck In The Middle With You

It was over 20 years ago, and I was in a long distance relationship, as in over 2,000 miles of distance. The guy I was seeing was a co-worker of a friend, and we were becoming pretty serious. I had flown out to see him several times, and it was now his turn to come visit me.

His plane was coming in around 9:00 that night, and the closer it got to that time, the more excited I got. I was bouncing around my house like a cricket, cleaning, straightening, chattering on the phone with various friends. As I was talking (happened to be with my hairdresser), I glanced at my watch. It was 8:45. SHEEEEEEEE-IT! How did I lose track of time like that? I slammed down the phone, grabbed my keys and ran out the door. 

My house was about a 15 minute drive from the airport (not including parking), but I made it in probably 12. Fortunately, the late flight meant the parking lot wasn't very full, and I was able to secure a spot and dash inside the airport fairly easily.

Hoping against hope that the plane had somehow been delayed (whose plane ever arrives at the gate at the exact moment it's supposed to? Mine never has EVEN ONCE.), I sped towards the arrival gate, only to find that my boyfriend had already deplaned AND collected his luggage and was now leaning against the wall, arms folded, luggage on the floor next to him, waiting and wondering if this girl he was seeing had flaked and left him stranded in a strange city.

I began babbling apologies about losing track of time, and fortunately he bought my story already knew me well enough to know that it was exactly something I would do, and that was that. We had a lovely weekend, and I sadly sent him back across the country when it was over.

We kept our long distance relationship going, and soon it was Christmas. We made plans for my boyfriend to fly in, then the two of us were going to drive the nearly 500 miles to our hometowns (coincidentally, they were only an hour apart) and meet each other's families. He was booked on the red-eye and would get in at 7:00 a.m.

The day before he was to arrive was unseasonably warm, and I took advantage of the weather to have my car washed before our trip. I drove a 1989 Toyota Corolla SR-5. I was packed and ready for our drive, the car had been serviced (and washed) and my alarm was set for 5:30 a.m., so I would have plenty of time to get up, get myself beautiful, and be at the airport by the time his plane arrived at the gate.

This isn't mine, but it looked EXACTLY like this.

As planned, I was up early the next morning and excitedly got ready. I was out the door at 6:30, allowing myself PLEN-TY of time to get to the airport, park, and be at the gate BEFORE the plane arrived.

B-r-r-r-r-r! Overnight, a cold front had come through, and the lovely, unseasonably warm temperatures from the day before had been replaced by bone-chilling, below-freezing cold.

I unlocked the car door, pulled on the handle, and . . . nothing happened. The door was frozen shut. (Remember that car wash the day before? Turns out that was a bad move.)

I tried the passenger door. Same thing.

Trying to keep myself from hyperventilating, I yanked and yanked on the doors, but neither would budge.

The hands on my watch were creeping closer and closer to 7:00.

In a fit of desperation, I tried the trunk, and it opened. 

There was a latch inside the trunk, behind the back seats, that allowed the seats to fold down. I thought if I could push them down, I could then climb into the trunk and come out on the inside of the car and open the doors from the inside, realizing it would be easier to PUSH a frozen door open than to PULL it.

I pushed the seats down and climbed in. Now, this was a sporty car, and the trunk was a bit of an afterthought. It wasn't much more than a foot from the edge of the trunk to the back window, and about the same depth, and while I'm not fat, I AM tall and leggy.

I climbed in. Wiggled and worked until I was lying on my back, my knees up, and began squirming my way inside the trunk, looking much like a cockroach on its back. The carpeted interior of the trunk grabbed my clothing, and in spite of the freezing temperatures, I was sweating buckets.

Success! I finally made it through to the backseat, squeezed between the bucket seats, over the gearshift, and into the driver's seat. I tried the handle and pushed with my shoulder. Still nothing. I climbed over the gearshift again and tried the passenger door. Nothing.

Now I am stuck inside a frozen car, the only way out being through the trunk. I could go ahead and drive it to the airport, but after I got there, then what? How would my boyfriend get in? There was no way he would be able to crawl in through the trunk. 

In a last-ditch effort, I leaned back over the gearshift, pulled out on the door handle, gave the passenger door a hard kick. With a crackle of ice, the door flew open, taking with it the gasket from around the door. . . .

I now had a door that opened, but would not close.

And it was nearly 7:00.

By this time, I was shivering and sobbing. My choices were to try to get the gasket back on or drive a 5-speed car across town to the the airport while leaning across the passenger seat and holding the door closed. I decided to go with Plan A first, and climbed back over the gearshift again and tried to work the gasket back onto the door frame. It was hard and stiff, still coated in ice crystals, and my fingers were turning black and greasy. I continued to cry and sweat and shiver, and eventually, I got the gasket back on.

I climbed over the gearshift again, started the car, and took off for the airport.

At nearly 7:30, I parked the car, climbed over the gearshift one last time, and ran into the airport, hands filthy, face streaked with tears.

Leaning against a wall, arms folded, luggage on the floor next to him, waiting and wondering, was my boyfriend. The moment our eyes met, I burst into tears, and started blubbering.

"I was trying (sob sob) to be on time (sob) but the doors were stuck (sob sob) and I had to crawl in the trunk (sob sob) and the thingy came off the door (sob sob) and I couldn't get to you (WAAAHHHHHH!)"

And he put his arms around me and held me, and laughed a little, and told me it was okay. That he knew I tried. That something like this could only happen to me.

And somehow, in spite of leaving him stranded not once, but twice, at the airport,  I didn't scare him off.

He married me 8 months later.

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt #3: A time somebody got stuck


  1. For REAL?

    *laughing so hard*

    In fact, you're about the only person in the world I CAN imagine this happening to.

    Thank you so much for sharing - quite made my evening *wipes tear from eye*

    1. COMPLETELY for real! I don't know how these things always happen to me....

    2. Look inside the back of your coat (or your shirt or your pants or inside your shoes) I suspect the label there says 'Trouble'

  2. How completely hysterical - and it makes for a great story later for sure! I can only imagine how miserable you felt while that was unfolding. Awesome.

  3. That's had to know it was true love after two times of you standing him up. He sounds like quite a catch, although I hear he leaves cutting boards in the middle of kitchen floors. ;)

    1. If I had known about the cutting board thing earlier, it would have been a deal breaker.

  4. This is hysterical, although I'm sure it wasn't at the time. I'm not sure what I would have done in your position.

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's.

    1. Thanks! It took a little while before I found the whole thing funny. I was trying so hard to make up for being late the last time!

  5. What a great story! I mean, it sucked, but it made for a great story. =) I thought stuff like that only happened to ME!

  6. I was hoping you'd get married to this guy throughout the whole story!

  7. Oh my gosh I laughed all the way through thinking this is totally something that would happen to me.

  8. This is a fabulous story! It's perfectly imperfect how when we try our hardest, that's when the strangest things happen.

    1. Thank you! Who would have thought washing my car would have snowballed into this?

  9. Haha!! I also dated a guy, long-distance, for quite some time. I'll never forget our first date. He spilled his soda pop everywhere, misplaced a piece of jewelry of mine, and fell from a playground monkey bar so hard it knocked all this breath out and he turned blue.

    And you bet. I married him!! And I am so very glad I did. :D

    1. Love it! Mine locked his keys in the car the first weekend we met, and when I didn't want to take off and never see him again, I knew it was going to last.

  10. Sweetest story ever!!! And that description of crawling in through your trunk could be straight from a movie. So funny!!

    1. Thank you! Amazing what an adrenaline surge will do for you!

  11. Er...suppose you had gotten stuck in da trunk????? Great story....You were quite a crawled through the trunk to get to him. He would have been a fool to let you go...