Chinese Chicken, the Little Old Lady and Lifting a Car

To any passers-by, we must have looked like idiots. Me on one side of the car, my colleague on the other, fingers gripped under the wheel arch as we try desperately to lift it and move it two feet to the right.

Yes, I said lift a car. TWO FEET TO THE RIGHT.

Let’s rewind about two minutes. Neil and I were walking out of Sainsbury’s after stocking up on food during our lunch break when we were stopped by an old lady with a face so wrinkly you could store playing cards in the folds.

“You look like two strong gentlemen.” she said, her voice creaking through an 80 year-old larynx. I looked at Neil, he looked at me. With our stringy arms and sad man-pecs, neither of us looked particularly strong, but we were mildly flattered.

“I’ve done something stupid.” she continued. We’ve all done something stupid, I thought, as my mind wandered to the packet of Chinese-style chicken currently dangling in a carrier bag at my side. I’d grabbed it without really looking, you see, and didn’t realise it wasn’t BBQ until after I’d paid for it.

The pensioner pointed to her car, which was stationery, positioned at an awkward angle against the metal frame of one of those places where you store shopping trolleys. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what had happened, and as we walked around her vehicle we were greeted with the sight of a big old dent and scratch all down the nearside where – probably due to cataracts and raging glaucoma – the little old lady had misjudged the turn into her parking spot.

“Do you think you can lift the back and move it across?” she asked, popping up next to my right ear. I gave her a look. I didn’t have a mirror handy, and I couldn’t really see my expression as it was coming from my own face, but I imagine it was something like this.

“You want us to lift the car?” I ask, incredulously, stressing the last three words so she realised the ridiculous nature of her request.

“Yes, please.”

Neil and I exchange glances. We’re in a bit of a pickle. We can’t just laugh at the old dear and walk off, that’d be mean. But there’s no way we can lift that car…is there? We shrug, and Neil moves round to the other side of the car. We grip the wheel arch and lift.

The chassis of the silver Fiesta lifts about an inch. I make a limp pushing motion with my hips, in the vain hope that I might have developed some sort of Hulk-style strength and the car would just slide along the tarmac like an opening door. It didn’t. We let go.

I stand back and suck through my teeth. “I don’t think it’s going to work.” I say. The old biddy looks at me as if I’m an idiot. I look shamefully at my toes. Silence, for a few seconds.

A Sainsbury’s employee, obviously having watched the spectacle from a distance until now, jogs over and tells the old lady he’ll get some help. She thanks him, then turns and thanks us. We scuttle off before she makes any further requests, such as wrestling a unicorn, perhaps, or writing a winning UK Eurovision entry. Bemused, we get into Neil’s car and make the journey home, fingers aching, weediness confirmed, and – on my part, at least – dreading the prospect of a Chinese chicken sandwich.

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