How to Dig Yourself Out of a Hole

A true story with a few fuzzy details.

July’s Contemplation: Keeping Cool in a Heated World
Monthly Post #2

This week, for the first time ever, I used 4-wheel drive. 

My moxie friend and I drove the family Wrangler to the beach and proceeded to bury its tires in the sand. I knew this bad ass Jeep with its 33” tires could maneuver itself out of the sand, I just wasn’t sure how. Moxie and I got out of the Jeep to assess the situation. Our back tires were buried. I knew enough from growing up in snow not to keep pushing on the gas unless I wanted to bury the entire vehicle. 

I looked around to find something to dig with hoping to spot some kid with a plastic shovel. No such luck, so I started excavating with my hands, while Moxie snapped photos and texted an SOS to her engineer husband and two sons. 

“Who is this?” her husband replied. Did he not understand our dire straits? We didn’t have time for such nonsense questions.

“Us,” Moxie typed, as her oldest son’s reply came through, “Put it in 4low.” 

Of course! All Jeeps have 4-wheel drive. Right? I am confident we would have eventually thought of this, but it was still early in our quandary. At any rate I knew this beauty most certainly was equipped with 4-wheel drive. My 25-year-old son and my engineer husband resurrected this 1988 YJ Wrangler into its glory to serve as my son’s first vehicle. It morphed over the past nine years into a thing of muscle and magnificence, never mind its creaking shocks, sagging passenger mirror, and loosey-goosey steering. It was something to behold—something that prompted people to wave as if they had spotted the president of the United States. Moxie and I were more than cool. 

“I like to see if I can make a turn without shifting down,” I told Moxie earlier when I pulled into a parking lot before lunch. 

“Isn’t that bad?” she asked, as YJ sputtered, demanding that I shift down.

“I’m not going fast enough for it to matter,” I said. 

Moxie looked skeptical. 

But back to the beach and the 4-wheel drive. I quickly found the second stick shift and have to say I was quite proud of myself. But I didn’t know what number to shift it into—2H, 4L, or 4H. In all the excitement, I didn’t recall Moxie’s son’s instruction. All that registered was “4-wheel drive.” Moxie then FaceTimed the stick shift to her son. And alas, after a few more directions, I muscled it into 4L, and I mean muscled. I don’t know the last time we had needed 4-wheel drive in the Florida flatlands, if ever. That stick was more stubborn than a pickle jar lid.

Meanwhile, two men yelled out their window, “Do you need help?” I didn’t think we needed help. I was determined to get us out of this hole I had gotten us into, not to mention I didn’t want someone with a lesser set of wheels, aka minivan, to rescue my bad ass Jeep. Moxie didn’t seem to care about any of that. 

“You might want to stick around for a minute,” she said, at which time I pushed hard on the gas and my Wrangler wrangled itself almost out of the hole. It was thrilling! Enough thrill in fact to give me the additional confidence I needed to conquer our quandary. After two more attempts and a better feel of the beast, I proudly pulled out of the pit. I looked over at the men in the minivan and said, “Thank you.” 

I really wanted to snub my nose too, but I didn’t. 

Moxie standing in our trench.

By this time, Moxie’s husband was on the line and suggested that if I were a teenager and had a winch (with an “i” not an “e”) I could start a business rescuing teenage guys.

“She has a winch,” Moxie said. 

Why do I need to be a teenager? I thought. I could rescue people right now in my seasoned season of life. 

Moxie and I had conquered something big. Now running on adrenaline and a fabulous business idea, my imagination ran wild with new possibilities and opportunities—a side gig rescuing stranded tourists, guys in minivans, and even teenagers. Besides a winch, I had a stereo and flood lights too. I could combine my newly acquired 4-wheel drive skills with my innate soft skills and utilize my family’s jeeply Jeep to offer a one-of-a-kind service.

When Moxie and I got back to my house, my husband asked about the ride.

“It was good,” Moxie and I said smiling. 

“Did you get stuck?” he asked, sensing something was amuck. 

“Yeah, but I put it in 4-wheel drive and got out,” I said, snubbing my nose.  

***

Moral of the Story: 
When you dig yourself into a hole, do not panic. Calmly assess the situation. Shift yourself into low gear with all wheels engaged, and enjoy the adrenaline of getting out. Call your kids if necessary. Carry your newly acquired skills with pride. Feel free to snub your nose.  

Published by Debby Kerr-Henry

I am a creative nonfiction writer who loves to capture you-can't-make-this-stuff-up-type stories. I believe in life-long learning and growing, in a "Better self. Better world." I value holistic health. My writing reflects these themes.

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