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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane


I should put my local tow guy on a yearly retainer. Here's a typical conversation:

Me: Hi, it's me, Madeleine Kane. Guess whose husband left the lights on again. My address is...
Tow Guy: Still have you down from last week. Have you considered our frequent user plan?

Okay, so my husband Mark is a wee bit absent-minded. There are worse flaws, right? So what if one of my jobs as work-at-home writer spouse with unlimited time for errands (yeah, right) is to undo damage caused by his mind-on-other-things mentality.

For some reason, these episodes tend to be car related. And most of Mark's car mishaps involve forgetting to shut off the lights. (Note to self: The next auto we buy will be smarter than spouse.)

Take last week's incident ... please. At 3.00 am I was jarred awake by a shrieking car alarm. (Mark, true to form, remained sound asleep.) I jumped out of bed, peered out the window, and was relieved to see our Mazda's lights weren't flashing. Great! The alarm was somebody else's problem ... or so I thought. (Another note to self: Next time I hear an alarm, ignore all evidence to the contrary and assume it's ours.)

What I'd forgotten in my half-conscious state, is that a battery drain causes our alarm to sound without the customary flashing lights. So the next morning, my husband couldn't start our 626. Naturally, he ran back in to summon my help:

"Very late. Taking train. Battery dead. Fix battery. Loveya. Sorry."

No problem, I thought, as I punched in our speed-dial. An hour later, my tow guy arrived, jumped the battery, reminded me to keep the engine running for a while, and suggested I buy my own charger. When he noticed me struggling to re-lock the car with a recalcitrant beeper gizmo, he locked it manually himself. I gave him an extra big tip -- a tip I wanted to take back 30 minutes later when I couldn't open the door.

Don't panic, I told myself, after replacing the beeper's battery failed to help. I can always unlock it with the spare ignition key. Too bad it's at the office with Mark.

I calmly called Mark, leaving a voicemail message to come home ASAP and bring his key. I was less calm when I placed another call, then another, then another, all the while cursing out voicemail, automobiles, and absent-minded husbands.

In between calls I sneaked glances at the ever-dropping fuel gauge and planned my tirade for when Mark finally phoned back. Except, he didn't.

As I later learned, Mark had a new phone number which he'd neglected to mention. He also forgot to play back messages on his old number. When did I learn this? When Mark got home, nine hours after the battery was jumped.

I'm definitely signing up for my tow guy's frequent user plan ... now that I know it includes deliveries of gas.

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