Did Lucille Ball Ever Drive a U-Haul?
A good friend moved to a new home recently. Boy, was I happy when she hired professional movers. I would have gladly helped her, but I sure do hate moving. I hate the packing, the loading, the unloading, the unpacking. And I hate the U-haul trucks. When I moved from an apartment into the first house I ever owned, I had accumulated so much life junk that I needed a big truck. One of the cumbersome ones that doesn’t shift well and can’t get above a crawl on the highway. I had wrangled a group of friends into spending the entire day schlepping furniture and boxes down 3 flights of stairs, and I didn’t even get mad when they lost their footing and dropped my huge armoire desk unit down one flight of stairs. The U-haul truck didn’t fit in the new house’s driveway, so when it was empty we decided to go and park it by the community’s clubhouse until time to return it the next morning. I ordered pizzas for my hungry gang and then left with my friend who was driving the truck. (We’ll call him Ethel for reasons forthcoming.) Once at the clubhouse, Ethel had the brilliant idea to go ahead and take the truck back to the rental facility then so I wouldn’t have to get up so early in the morning. I am ALWAYS up for any plan that prevents getting up early, so we set out for the rental facility about a mile away with me following close behind him. I had rented the truck from a local storage place, and I figured I would just leave the truck with a note for the owner. I didn’t remember the large fence around the facility, or the locked gate after hours. I figured the idea was a bust and we needed to just go back home before the rest of the group had finished off the pizza. But Ethel saw a couple moving around in a unit towards the back and suggested I try to get them to come and let us in. If you really want to startle someone, try appearing out of the darkness at 11 o’clock at night and calling out to them through a fence when they think they are completely alone in a deserted storage unit. Probably not the best way to make friends. I explained what we were trying to do, and the guy was ready to help, but the woman did exactly what I would have done in that situation and told him they should not get involved. I tried to reason with her, but I have to admit, I agreed with her. There’s no way I would let two random strangers into a locked storage facility late at night. The dude was trying to decide between helping me or heeding her when suddenly the loudest, most obnoxious alarm I have ever heard started pealing through the night. I turned to see Ethel running from the gate back to the truck. “Let’s go! Let’s go! Come on!” he screamed at me, swinging his arms wildly as he motioned for me to get to the car. I waved a polite goodbye to the couple as I took off running, ignoring the fact that she was loudly telling him “I told you they were up to no good!” “What did you do????” I screamed at Ethel, who was already turning the key in the big truck. “I tried random codes to see if I could get the gate to open. Hurry up, we have to get out of here!” As some of you may remember, I don’t exactly spring into action well in emergency situations, and I was lost in thought processing what he had done, why the alarm was sounding, and why he was panicking. It suddenly dawned on me that it would look as though we were trying to break in. And I was sure that the Nervous Nellie lady would be glad to tell the cops of my ill intentions. I was also sure that we would never make a clean getaway at a max speed of 40mph on the highway. But EtheI was already in the truck, grinding the gears to make a getaway. I was parked behind him, so he went forward and swung wide, almost striking the gate as he tried to turn around to head out. It was at that moment that I noticed that Trusting Tom had ignored Nervous Nellie and driven his car to the inside of the gate. Perhaps he was tired of hearing the alarm sound. Or perhaps he didn’t want the cops there any more than we did. I don’t know and I don’t care; I was just happy to see the gate magically slide open. But now Ethel was in a predicament because the truck had pulled forward too much to be able to go in the gate as it opened, and he couldn’t back up as I had yet to move my car from behind him. He realized the gate would not stay open long enough to accommodate all those maneuvers. So he gave me a simple command. “Keep the gate from closing.” I jumped from my car and ran with that one command sounding repeatedly in my head. “Keep the gate from closing. Keep the gate from closing. Keep the gate from closing.” It was not a gate that swung open, but rather one that slid back and forth in line with the fence. I got in between it and the brick column and tried to be as big as a vehicle. I waved my arms, jumping up and down, frantically searching for the sensor. Ethel was grinding the gears to find reverse as the gate started to slide toward me. I jumped higher, waved more frantically, and even shouted to seem big, but the gate didn’t care. It kept closing. Ethel got the truck backed up and grinded into 1st, but then he popped the clutch and the truck died. The gate was still closing. I grabbed the gate with both hands and tried to hold it back. But the gate kept closing. Ethel got the truck cranked again and lurched forward. But the gate kept closing. I quickly realized there was nothing I could do. He wasn’t going to make it. The gate was going to close. And I was going to be smashed between the wrought iron gate and the brick column. So I acted in self-preservation and jumped clear of the gate. I JUMPED INSIDE. Yep. I was now locked IN the facility. With the sirens screaming. With the police surely on their way. With Trusting Tom retreating to his storage unit and Nervous Nellie already screaming at him. Ethel looked at me incredulously from inside the truck and held up both hands in a gesture that clearly said “What the hell did you do that for?” I had no answer. I looked nervously around me to see if there was any place low enough for me to scale the gate or the fence, but apparently they take the security of people’s belongings pretty seriously at this storage facility. It was inescapable. For me at least. Ethel jumped down from the truck and started screaming at me, over the sirens. Now it just so happens that storage facility was only a block from Dr. Smooth’s dad’s house. Oh goodie. My son and his other parents would be able to watch me get arrested from their front porch. What a pinnacle in parenting achievement for me! As I nervously waited for lights turning on for my impending humiliation, I noticed a strange car parked in front of their home. As I watched, the headlights came on, and the car rolled slowly forward. It was the storage facility owner, who lived in the same neighborhood. The alarm triggered a phone call to her home, and she had come to investigate from a safe distance while she waited for the cops. She got out of her car wiping her eyes and laughing hysterically. “Why on earth would you jump INSIDE the gate???” she asked as she laughed. “Um, I don’t know. I was just getting out of the way.” I answered meekly. She put in the code and released me from my imprisonment as she continued to laugh. “That was just about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. “I just watched the whole thing, and it was like watching an episode of I Love Lucy and you’re Lucille Ball.” (hence my clever choice of Ethel’s name) “I was trying to return the truck tonight so I could sleep late in the morning,” I offered. She turned off the alarm and called off the cops and we got the truck returned. The group had saved us some pizza, which was the least they could do, considering we left the house an hour and a half earlier to drive the truck one block away from the house, and NO ONE EVEN BOTHERED TO COME LOOKING FOR US. So yeah. I hate moving.