After a relatively good start to the day…the fun(ny) started. It was time for my daughter to get out of school, and as our district provides NO busing for kindergarteners, I had to pick her up. I had my son’s shoes, coat and hat on, opened the door to leave, and at the end of our driveway was an oil truck with a hose stretched out filling up our oil tank. No big deal….I’ll just wait! Soon, enough he was finished, but I was almost late for the pick-up. So, as soon as the truck pulled away I turned the key to start the car….that’s when I heard the popping sound. Something wasn’t right, but the car was still running and I had to get my kid! So, I started to back out of the driveway, until I realized I couldn’t steer the car…at ALL. So I pulled forward, turned off the car, popped the hood and hopped out. Now, I know nothing about cars, but being that man that I am, whenever something goes wrong, I pop the hood and take a look for a few minutes before throwing my hands up int he air and calling Triple A. In this case, however, I saw the problem immediately. Some sort of broken belt sticking up in the air…upon closer inspection I saw the teeth marks on the broken rubbery band.
THEN, I saw the squirrel tail sticking out from the bowels of the inner workings of my car. Obviously, since I had gotten home, a squirrel had climbed into the car to get warm and started gnawing away at some sort of important belt. Now, a childless individual would stop and stare in amazement at their terrible luck, but my thoughts were on my poor daughter waiting for her Daddy that wasn’t going to make it in time (or at all…). So, I called the school, explained the squirrel related car issues (which garnered a giggle) and then asked them to pull my daughter from line and hold her in the office until I could figure something out. I briefly entertained the notion of walking, but with a temperature of 18 °F coupled with the ice/snow on the roads with no sidewalk…I worried about cars as well as my son turning into a Pudders (nickname) pop during the hour long trip. So, I immediately called my in-laws with one of those panicked, “Hey, you busy?” calls, that somehow implies I have any other options. Luckily, they were available, and my mother-in-law made made the 40 min drive to pick up my daughter from school and drop her off at home.
While my son and I were waiting for my daughter to get home, I decided to take another look under the hood to see if the squirrel was still there and, if so, was he alive or was he snacking on a giant acorn in the great beyond. I poked the tail several times with an ice scraper…no movement. So…with a gloved hand, I reached out, grabbed hold and lifted out….a severed tail. Now it shouldn’t have freaked me out because I used to hunt squirrel (dirty redneck!), but something about it was amusingly unsettling. Like something out of a not so scary horror movie. Doing a little more research…I saw the rest of the squirrel lodged under the lower broken-belt turny thing (sorry to you laymen for the technical car speak). So…I poked the rest of the squirrel with the ice scraper and was fairly confident he was singing in the Angelic Squirrel Choir. Suddenly I see my son standing to me left with his hands on his hips looking up at me with a very serious expression. “What’s DA problem” he barked with a mature cadence that insinuated he was there to help. “Well, see this belt here? A squirrel chewed through it and now the squirrel is stuck inside the car”, I explained in an amazed, kid friendly manner. He looked at me for a minute and in his own amazed voice said “OH MY GOODNESS…..I can’t beweive IT” and then threw up his arms to express the severity of his disbelief. That was one of those moments I talked about before. The amazing, extraordinary moments where your child turns an event that SHOULD have you cursing up a storm and makes you laugh like it was the funniest joke you’ve ever heard in your life! Can’t be sure, but I think I even heard the squirrel chuckle.
By this point, my mother-in-law had brought my poor daughter home, safe and sound and I asked her to stick around for a few minutes while I worked on removing the squirrel. With the kids safely inside out of traumatization range, I put on my squirrel pulling gloves and reached down into the depths of my car. Shoulder deep, I got my hands on the critters front leg and started to pull. After a couple minutes of slow pulling, I finally dislodged the rogue rodent. TRIUMPH….except for the part where my car still didn’t have steering capability.
Luckily, we have Triple A, and they were able to tow our car to a local garage which had it all fixed it up a couple hours and $90 later. After my wife got home, we bundled up the kids and went out to pick up the car. Unfortunately, I forgot to MOVE the squirrel and my son saw him laying on the snow. “Hi squiwll…Dada, he not waving to me…is he sweeping? Not one to lie to my children to avoid awkward or unanswerable questions, I said “No Pud, he’s dead” After thinking for a few seconds, he put his hands back on his hips and said, “Oh…dead. He prolly need new batterwes!”. Never occurred to me that the only form of dead my wife and I have ever eluded to was with respect to his toys with used up batteries that stop working! After another good laugh, neither he nor I pushed the issue any further. This morning I made sure the squirrel was gone! So, that’s the Squirrel portion of the story….thats it right? Enough fun for one day? NOT even close!