Thursday, March 23, 2006

Getting In—Getting Out

This post is about problem solving. It is also about a rather stupid situation that I created.

Yesterday was for me a very full day—overall, a very good day. However, it didn’t begin that way. I had an early morning breakfast engagement to be followed by some important errands. A bit after 7:00 am I started out, only to find the door of my Honda CR-V frozen shut. That was the first problem. (Yes, this is the end of March and I would not normally have expected a frozen door or the snow and ice and 20 degree temperature).

The driver’s side door would not unlock using either the remote or the key. I shook the door, kicked the door, yelled at the door. Nothing worked and I felt that I didn’t have time to await a thaw. So I tried the right side doors and the key opened the front one. Now what? After considering this second problem, I decided the solution was to climb over the passenger’s seat and into the driver’s seat where I could start the engine and warm the car.

That would not be a difficult act except for two considerations: (1) my CR-V has a 5-speed manual transmission and the floor shifter is between the seats and (2) I weight 350 pounds. Climbing over with my bulk would not be easy. However, I am not one to back away from a potential solution, so I crawled into the car. Getting my left leg into the driver’s side wasn’t difficult; however, as I tried to bring my right leg up and over the gearshift, my foot slid into a recessed compartment in the lower dashboard in front of the gearshift where it stuck.

I was really stuck! I could go neither back nor could I pull my leg up. If I could just open the left-side door… but that it wouldn’t unlock was the initial problem that had gotten me wedged in that damnable position. So I was fast approaching a panic.

“Calm down and think,” I told myself. However, the scared little kid inside me started screaming, “We’ll never get out of this.” I took several deep, slow breaths, and considered this new problem. Answer: roll down the window. So, I pushed the button to roll down the left front window and, like the electric door lock, it, too, was frozen.

“How do I thaw this car?” I asked myself, even as the discomfort of my position—and especially my trapped foot—began to panic that scared kid. “Start the engine,” the still functioning logical part of my brain said.

To engage the starter of a CR-V with a manual transmission one must first fully engage the clutch. My left leg was in the driver’s compartment, but I was wedged into such a position that I found it difficult to move my leg. At this point the scared little kid within me almost went into overdrive fear; so I took a few deeper, slower breaths, and managed to reach into my coat pocket and retrieve my cell phone. I rationalized (1) I was going to be late for my breakfast engagement and should contact the person I was meeting and (2) perhaps that person (or maybe the fire department or EMS) could come and unwedge me.

As my karma would have it, I found the battery of my cell phone had fully discharged. My fault: I had left the phone on all night. “OK, Saint Nick,” I said to myself, “there are no rescuers around so you have to solve this problem.”

Next problem: how do I maneuver to enable my left foot to engage the clutch so that I may engage the ignition and start the bloody car? My left shoulder was wedged against the window, which was frozen shut and would not open. My right side was wedged against the back of the seat, which… could be adjusted! Thus, I reached down and released the lever that allows the back of the seat to recline almost to a horizontal position.

Hurray! Not only could I raise my left foot to the clutch but my right foot was freed and I was able to sit properly in the driver’s compartment. Moments later I had the engine of the CR-V started and within five minutes the car was thawed and I was on my way.

Is there a moral to this rather long story describing a rather unimportant event in my life? I am not sure that there is one, unless it is something like: “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)


  1. I'm glad a solution was within your reach, so to speak. :-)

  2. I'm sure that this says more about me that I'd like it to, but I was laughing heartily as I read this. Only after I had first rationalized that if you were typing this blog, you had to have gotten out of the car.

  3. I agree with limp99. I laughed my way through the story.

  4. I hope you made up for the breakfast and had a delicious lunch!

  5. Hi Nick, just wanted to say hi and thank you for dropping by my blog. I always welcome new visitors. I will be back here later on, to have a real good look at your blog ... it looks real interesting, from what I've seen so far. Yay, another cat lover.
    Take care, Meow

  6. Oh my goodness! I've been in similar situations. Isn't it funny how freaked out you really get when you get stuck in a stupid situation like that?

    Very funny - and I'm glad you worked it through okay.

  7. Hi Nick ~~ You sure had some strife getting out of that. Here in Australia, except for the mountains, we do not have snow or those freezing temperatures. I'm happy to say.
    Sorry you had to give up teaching, due to stress. Glad you liked the post.
    Cheers, Merle.

  8. LOL @ what Squirl said :)

    Thanks for sharing and I'm glad your day was better after the car episode :)

  9. I am glad it all worked out. I have found myself panic and then think "hey..relax..slow down..ok now i know the solution"

    Have a great weekend

  10. Hehe. I thought that was amuzing Nick. Sorry.

    Water. Cold water unfreezes the car. That is assuming that your hose isn't frozen.


  11. I read this in parts horrified and utterly amused!! How brave of you to share such a story---how many times have we all done something dumb and found ourselves stuck or otherwise impaired and hardly have the guts to remind ourselves of the incident. Thanks for sharing...since you came out of the whole thing okay, it seems okay to laugh at it. :)