Gone in 60 Minutes (Or why I won’t be cast in a Fast & Furious movie)

image Welcome to Post Traumatic Sundays, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. So what’s the point, you ask? Simply to offer reflections from someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how:

With humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who inspires me each day to laugh for the right reasons. It’s good to laugh with you now — for all the right reasons…

* * * * * * * *

They say it takes a car thief less than a minute to break into a vehicle, hot wire it, and be on their way. So, when I locked my keys in the car in the grocery store parking lot, I thought, “Hey, if Nick Cage or Vin Diesel can do it, so can I.”

True, I had no “Slim Jim,” or any other special car theft device to work with, at least not until I remembered the coat hanger that holds the bumper in place. With a little twisting and unraveling, the wire came off and I had my thieves’ tool.

After setting the bumper aside, I moved to the door and shoved the end of the coat hanger down the window and into the doorframe. The door locks had no knobs, which meant I would have to unlatch the lock from inside the frame.

No problem. I’ve had the panels off, I’ve seen where the mechanism lives. With a little patience, and a perfectly timed yank, I’d be twirling my keys in no time.

I concentrated.


Used the force.

And broke the coat hanger off in the door.

OK, time for “plan B.” Shoving the bumper aside, I crawled under the rear of the Honda and reached up through the rust spot covered with plywood that leads into the spare tire compartment; there was a chance I could reach the inside handle and open the rear hatch. Once open, I could crawl through the back, over the baby seat, and behind the steering wheel, where I would quickly nurse the engine to life and be on my way in a cloud of exhaust fumes.

True, it wouldn’t look as cool as Nick Cage hopping into the front seat of a high performance Mustang with Angelina Jolie, but then again, what could?

I slid my hand beneath the spare tire, over tools and jumper cables, and up toward the latch. I stretched, pulled, contorted my arm in an effort to reach the latch, but it was no use; my arm wasn’t long enough. I began to pull it back through and discovered that the rust spot, which had been so pliant and forgiving on the way in, had become the equivalent of a giant Chinese finger cuff on the way out.

There was no way I was going to retrieve my arm without blood loss.

My only hope was that someone would either see my feet sticking out from under the car, or my severed arm in the spare tire compartment. Needless to say, I was well past the one-minute mark at this point—so I slipped a loaf of French bread from the sack with my free hand and took a bite.

That’s when I heard the metallic rumble of a shopping cart, which was followed by screaming in a language I presumed was French. From beneath the car, all I could see were sneakers running back and forth in a frenzy. I began stomping my feet, waving my arm, and trying to talk to her with a mouthful of bread to assure her that I was alive.
Instead, she screamed louder — and was gone in less than 60 seconds.

When my wife arrived with a can of WD-40 and the spare keys a bit later, she was miffed and more than a little embarrassed as the store manager brought her to me. After apologizing to him, she opened the hatch and sprayed my arm, which I gradually wiggled free of the car.

“I don’t understand you sometimes,” she said, and unlocked the door.

After explaining how things came about, I gave her my best, most endearing smile.
“I’ll admit, I’m not as cool as Cage, but I definitely have as much style.”

She stared at me momentarily before throwing the can of WD-40.

The doctor says the lump on my head should be gone in 60 days.


(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

45 thoughts on “Gone in 60 Minutes (Or why I won’t be cast in a Fast & Furious movie)”

  1. “Chinese finger cuff”….I HATE those things!
    So glad that you were able to get out from under that car and find a sweet woman who probably would have taken pictures and, instead of throwing, would have bribed you with some sweet somethings to get the WD-40 can 😉

  2. Thanks for the morning laugh. I was right there with you the whole time. From bad to worse. Reminds me of making the mistake of picking up a large grouper by slipping my fingers between a few gill plates. Yup. Just like the Chinese finger cuff. Never did that again. Just in case you ever need to pick up a grouper, grab it by the lips of its closed mouth- seriously!

  3. That would be embarrassing Ned. And what was wrong with your wife? Had she never locked keys in the car or done any number of forgetful acts? I thought we all had done that stuff. I once locked my keys in the car while parked in the hospital parking garage. As I was doing the coat hanger trick, the security guard walked by. It took a while to convince him it was my car but in the end he helped me to get it open. As soon as it was open he insisted I show him the registration in the car and my driver’s liscence. Thankfully they matched (if I’d borrowed a friend’s car or something, it would have been hard to explain) and he let me go. I suppose it would have been rough on him if he helped me break in and then it turned out I was a car thief, Ha!

  4. Note to self: Stop reading Ned’d blog while other half is asleep and needs to get up for work in 3 hours.

    Sounds like a the rust bucket Datsun we had for 7 years. Duct tape, road dirt, a lot of luck and at least half a day every weekend with him out in the driveway administer CPR. And buckets of oil. Now this car was before he got into the automotive repair trade, so this one weekend when something major broke – damned if I recall what exactly – the untrained genius decides surely he can figure it out and spends the whole weekend taking it apart.

    Not only did we have to box all these engine pieces up, borrow a car and take the boxes of metal things to a shop and pray they knew what to do with them, we later found our the cat had been quietly absconding with more than a few small pieces while he was busy dissecting our vehicle. Same little bugger used to steal my make-up and any bottle of medication we were dumb enough to leave out. I dunno, maybe he had some kind of black market thing going on with the local squirrels. That or he had a drug problem, was secretly a drag queen and sold stolen car parts to support his habit. He was *awfully affectionate* with my husband and loved male visitors…

    1. Maybe it was like that old Johnny Cash song, and your cat was just piecing together his own car for an eventual getaway? Maybe for a life with some cute little squirrel?

  5. Lucky you have an industrious wife who knows how to save man-arms 😉
    Geez, what an ordeal. Kidding aside, I’m glad everything worked out and that your weren’t injured.
    If it makes you feel a tiny bit better, I took my 16-year-old dress shopping today. About 1/2 mile from the mall, a guy in a pickup truck kept honking at us. I was preparing to do something unkind, because I thought he was being fresh. He then started yelling. As I rolled my window down, he was yelling, that my back hatch was up in the air. Needless to say, I was embarrassed and ashamed. I yelled thank you, then pulled over, checked to make sure we hadn’t lost any purchases then closed the hatch. I drove home with my tail between my legs.
    great post! You’re an entertaining writer and human being too 🙂

  6. Did you ever figure out why the French woman ran away? Was it because she saw your legs, thought you were trapped & reported it to the Store Manager? Because that wasn’t exactly clear.

    1. I think she was freaked out and, yes, took off to get help. Either that or, like you said, saw my legs and freaked out — which happens whenever I have shorts on.

  7. I once opened a car with a coat hanger. It took me about half an hour and the help of three other guys (none with criminal records I think). It was on a first date with one of those guys. I wasn’t gone in 60 seconds, but my pride was…

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