Car curse puts brakes on holiday

By Tammy Keith Originally Published July 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 12, 2013 at 10:05 a.m.
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Our Fourth of July holiday went from bad to worse before it got better.

It was my younger son’s 20th birthday (yes, the one born in the front seat of my car in the hospital parking lot), and we were going to my parents’ house on July 3.

He was taking his girlfriend to meet his grandparents for the first time.

On the way down, we were traveling separately. My husband was driving from the campus in Mississippi where he’s working on his doctorate.

Older son had to work.

My younger son called and asked where I was on the interstate. I just happened to be a few minutes behind him. (Actually, I don’t believe in coincidences.)

He’d had a flat.

When I left, I’d said a little prayer that he would be safe because I was afraid he’d get pulled over by the police for speeding or his car would break down, because he’d already had transmission problems.

I saw his car on the side of the highway, and I pulled over and put on my flashers.

It had been a long time since I’d stood on the side of the interstate while 18-wheelers and other vehicles whipped by at 80 mph.

Son’s girlfriend was trying to keep her dress from flying up.

They told me that an 18-wheeler had run them off the road a few miles back, changing lanes while my son was honking like crazy.

Thank God, my son was able to get back on the highway without having a wreck.

Girlfriend had been working a crossword puzzle. Her last clue? “Beware the big rig?”

Answer: semiconscious.


As he sat in the tall grass on the roadside, with ticks crawling on him and bugs buzzing, he changed the tire.

We resumed our journey (after they got in the car and kissed — young love, ain’t it grand?), but he pulled over again. So did I, flashers on. His spare tire was wobbling, so he tightened the lug nuts.

We climbed back in our vehicles and pulled back on the interstate. For about two minutes.

He pulled over, sure that something was wrong with the spare.

I called my husband, who said it was probably just the way the car was driving with a spare on it.

Reassured, my son and The Girlfriend prepared to continue toward Jonesboro, and my son realized he’d locked his keys in the car with it running.

He was not happy.

It does not help that I laugh in these situations.

His biggest concern was that the car would overheat.

I also didn’t have a spare key, although my husband, already at my parents’ house, did.

Girlfriend went into MacGyver mode. She got a bobby pin and tried to pick the door lock as my son Googled how to break into a car.

He mentioned breaking a window, which I forbid.

Girlfriend also used a pocketknife on the lock and ended up cutting her finger, although blood loss was minimal.

So, he climbed on the car and tried to break in through the sun roof, while I rummaged in my vehicle for any helpful tools.

I’ve never actually used my roadside kit, which would have been helpful if it included a coat hanger.

I found extra lipstick — I guess I could have written HELP on my window, because not a soul stopped to ask if we needed help.

I called 911, apologized, told the person our situation. She connected us to the Arkansas State Police.

I told Trooper Robert our dilemma, throwing in that the Fourth of July is my son’s birthday and he was taking his girlfriend to meet his grandparents for the first time.

“Well, something’s telling you not to,” the trooper said in a Southern drawl, laughing.

Girlfriend said she thinks our family is jinxed when it comes to cars.

I am beginning to think she’s right.

As it got darker, things became a blur.

The ordeal wasn’t over, yet.

(To be continued …)

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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