• Jane Wheeler

Trapped in My Car



I want to tell you a story of an experience I had many years ago.


It was in the years of the cassette player. Every car had a cassette player, we had upgraded from the old 8-track tapes to these new fandangled cassette machines.


The problem with the 8-track tapes was they were bulky, large and often the players would “eat” the tape and wreck the album. One of my first jobs was at a music store and I repaired 8 Track tapes and cassettes. Cassettes were better because they were so much more compact but every now and then your music would stop and you would hear this sound, a garbled echo in the vehicle and you would have to work fast to get that cassette tape out before the entire tape wrapped around the head of the player. It could make a heck of a mess, yards and yards of tape wound up around the player head. The faster you got the cassette out the less damage to your album.


It was a sultry night; the sun had not set and I was headed home in my car just before supper time. There were not a lot of people on the road as most were inside getting prepared to eat.


I had turned a curve in the road in a residential area headed to the stop sign where I would turn left to head home. I saw the stop sign just as I heard the garbled sound, immediately I knew that the cassette was being eaten alive by the player!


Still driving I pushed the eject button hard to get that cassette out of the player fast, lightening speed! Nothing happened.


I pushed the eject button on the dash repeatedly with no results. I was still driving and so I opened the flap of the cassette player to try to get a little peak inside to see why the cassette would not come out. I had gotten to it quickly so not much tape should be holding it back. Nothing happened so I placed my right hand into the cassette player to try to help the cassette along at coming out.


The thing of it is….that little flap door that opens to let the cassette in and out only opens in one direction. Oh, it was easy to slide my hand into the machine, but when I tried to remove my hand, the now open flap located on top of my hand dug sharply into my skin. I pulled at my hand again, sharp pain as the skin again got caught on this piece of metal. I attempted to twist and turn my hand to no avail; my hand was lodged right inside of the dashboard cassette player.


Hurriedly I pulled over to the right-hand shoulder of the road and was able to move and twist my body around and move my left hand and arm awkwardly in front of me in between myself and the steering wheel to try to reach the gear shifter of course located in the middle consul of the car to place the vehicle into park.


When firmly stopped I went back to studying the cassette player and my hand. It seemed nothing I could do would in any way free up my hand to not being eaten by the cassette machine. In fact, my hand was starting to swell from the repeated attempts at pulling it out. I was trapped in my car.


I sat there and marveled at the situation, I could not really drive, I could not get out of the car, I had no cell phone back then even if I could have tried to get to it. What was I supposed to do, I was literally stuck to my car? It was a predicament.


I was not even sure how to flag another car down since I could only wave my left arm and not even stick my head out of the window.


I sat there and prayed, asking God to help me get my “stupid hand out of the stupid cassette player!”


I pulled again and again and nothing happened except by now the skin was broken and it was bleeding a bit.


I put my head down onto the steering wheel and tried to think through my options. There were not many.

I looked up and there was a man walking on the road towards me!

“Excuse me! Sir! Excuse me! Hello… I am wondering if you could possibly help me?!”


The man looked over at the car and looked me up and down, he could not have possibly known that I was trapped in my car.


He walked over to the window and I continued,

“Um, I seem to have a little problem. I stuck my hand into the cassette player, and it will not come out.”


He bent down to look into the driver’s window at the dash and saw that indeed incredulously I was telling the truth. I did a little sheepish grin.


Bless him, he did not laugh, he did not make a joke, he did not lay on the sarcasm. He looked over the situation and decided how awkward it would be if he tried to get to my hand via the driver’s door and he walked over to the passenger side and opened that door.


He leaned in and attempted to pull my hand and push open the player at the same time. Nothing moved. He tried very hard to pry that player wider, but nothing would budge it.


After a few minutes he said he would need to find something with which to pry it open wider. He left me and went searching the ground for something, he brought back a stick.

It was a sturdy stick and he leveraged it into the player to get maximum push. He pushed hard and I pulled hard and my hand came out of the player! I was thrilled!!! He had saved me.


What do you say to the stranger that saved your hand? I thanked him profusely for even being willing to help me in this silly dilemma and thanked him again and again.


I wiped the blood off my hand and started back on the road to home.


Why do I share this story with you. It is not one that I am exceptionally proud of, it was a silly move on my part, lesson learned: do not stick your hand into a small square slot!


As we push towards the new year, the hopes that 2021 will be better. We do not know what it will bring.


It could be wonderful, it could be worse – we have no idea, but we feel stuck. We feel like we are trapped at home, cannot go out, cannot gather together, alone and not sure what to do.


I suggest a couple of things: instead of staying stuck and not able to move perhaps it is the time to start brain storming things that you can do. You are not permanently tethered to one spot like I was.


What are some ideas:

Phone people – talk to others on the phone. An actual voice is a lovely thing to hear


Write letters – we can renew an old trend. Getting a personal letter is a delightful gift


Go for a walk around the block, run up and down your stairs, slide down them if you want – what is stopping you?


Take up a new hobby or craft maybe even a musical instrument


Start a journal or diary – writing down your thoughts is very therapeutic


Start planting seeds for your summer garden, plot out your garden, order seeds


Organize some Zoom meetings to check in on others


Organize Zoom card games or Pictionary tournaments


Organize a “locked in” cookie exchange. You bake something and drop it off at someone’s house leaving it on the porch and someone brings you something. Add an encouraging note (did this over Christmas -was so delightful)


Make up some letters or cards for the seniors shelters – drop them off at the office and get them to hand them out randomly


Make up some Care Bags for the homeless people and drive around to hand them out


Write some encouragement cards for Dr’s and nurses, ambulance responders, firefighters or policemen


Feed the birds – they are still there


Learn a musical instrument or another language


Make a blanket fort in the tv room


Cook smores over the stove


Interview your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles over the phone to start a family diary and tree


You can add to the list and then get started, pick one or two and dive in with gusto. Life is too short to sit at home doing nothing and really how much "cleaning" can we all do?







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