Sometimes I find myself caught in a moment that could appear in one of my books someday. I’m parked at the Best Western in Troy, New York. I just finished my appearance at Market Block Books, and as expected, my car won’t start. The starter has been giving me trouble, and I already had to call a tow truck earlier that morning to help me pop-start the car at a Marriot in Albany.
Thankfully, the car has a standard transmission.
I’ve parked in such a way to make it easy to roll the car down a slight grade in the parking lot, but I am not proficient at popping the clutch at the right moment. I try three times, pushing the car back up the slight incline each time, without success.
I am frustrated and exhausted. After being away from home for two days, I just want the damn thing to start. I don't have the energy to roll it back up the hill again if I fail.
At that moment two maids appear from a side door in the Best Western. They are Hispanic and speak almost no English. They are dressed in smocks and aprons. They are both considerably older than me. One of them orders me from the driver’s seat, speaking entirely in Spanish, and takes my place behind the wheel. Her compatriot takes up a position behind the car and orders me to join her, also speaking in Spanish. Together, we push the car, and at just the right moment, the first woman pops the clutch and the car roars to life.
Yes. My car was started by two non-English speaking, fifty-something Best Western maids who had probably been watching me push my car back and forth across their parking lot for twenty minutes before coming out in frustration and annoyance at the idiot who couldn’t pop a clutch.
I’m not proud of myself, but I’m home.