A little over five years ago, I rushed out of the office to grab a quick, nutritious lunch from Wendy's. I pulled my 1993 Acura Integra (known affectionately as Teg) into the drive-thru lane and was in deep concentration while debating my Dollar Menu item selection. It was my turn to pull up to the ordering board. I put my car in gear and pressed on the gas while letting off the clutch. Teg made an awkward noise, an automobile equivalent of an old man's last breath, and lurched forward. It then died while being stuck in first gear.
I couldn't move.
There were at least five cars behind me, the line wrapping all the way around the restaurant and into the street, and eventually they started honking for me to pull forward. I couldn't start the car and I couldn't even get it in neutral to push it out of the way. I ended up leaning my seat all the way back, putting my pointy-toe-slingback clad foot up on the dash board and pulled back as hard as I could on the stick shift. I figured either I would break off the shifter or die of an embarrassment-induced heart attack. I preferred the former.
It worked and my car was suddenly able to move into neutral. I don't remember what happened next but somehow, I was able to make the car hop/lurch a few feet over to where a parking spot had miraculously just opened up. I left the car there and called Z to come and rescue me from my humiliating fast food predicament.
That week we fixed the problem--a worn-out transmission--and decided it was time to upgrade to a newer vehicle.
A few weeks later I was in New York on a media tour with a client. I was in the back of a cab, puttering along in East Village traffic when my cell phone rang. It was Zach telling me about the nice couple who replied to our Craigslist ad about the car. The couple, whose car met its own untimely demise when a girl ran a stoplight, came over to see Teg and decided he wasn't a fit for them either, but Zach liked them a lot and joked, "Then can I interest you in a house?" Our rental house next door had just come up for rent.
The couple kind of laughed at the thought of looking for a car but getting a new house and decided to humor him and take a look. They loved their Avenues apartment but since they had just adopted a friendly golden retriever named Bonnie, decided a house would be better for them.
They took it on the spot.
When I returned from my trip, I met the couple, Maegan and Gabri, and immediately liked them and the way Maegan acted like it wasn't a big deal to sign the rental contract while sitting on our couch that had a folded sleeping bag in place of where a cushion should be since our new giant dog ate it. The fact her husband had an adorable, charming Italian accent didn't hurt either.
We hit it off immediately and Burly, Idaho's Maegan soon became one of my very best friends.
They moved back to Gabri's hometown of Rome, Italy a couple of years ago. I visited her there last summer and while we were sitting in a small, sidewalk cafe as Maegan gave me a wine-infused Italian lesson, I realized how lucky I am that I never got to order my Junior Bacon Cheeseburger.