The Slippery Clutch

Buying a car can be a stressful experience. Buying a car in a foreign country with a different language brings the stress to a whole new level. For that reason–and many others–our family tried getting by for months in France with only one car.

Living in the French countryside, this was challenging. In order to catch the bus for work, my husband, Matt, had to leave just as the kids and I were getting up in the morning. And then he wouldn’t get home until I was putting the kids to bed. After six months, we decided for our sanity that we would need a second car. Fortunately, Matt knew a guy from work who was getting rid of an old Peugeot. Nothing fancy, just a clunker to get him back and forth during the week.

His coworkers promptly christened the car “the slippery clutch” because, well, it had a slippery clutch. It felt more like riding in a go-kart than a car. The passenger side had no handle on the outside of the door. The sunroof leaked when it rained. Anytime he rounded a corner, his passenger was treated to an unexpected shower. This would prove awkward for any unsuspecting coworkers who would ask for a ride home. Fortunately, he was prepared to offer a towel, which he kept in the back for such occasions.

The Thanksgiving Spool Debacle

It was Thanksgiving 2016. I was preparing for a Thanksgiving potluck we had organized with other American expats, when I spied a man standing in our driveway. Next to him was an industrial-sized spool. Why is there an enormous spool in my yard? Who is this strange man? Where did he come from?

“MATT!” I bellowed. “There’s a man in our driveway–and he has a giant spool!”

“Did you say ‘bonjour’?” he asked.

Did he not hear the part about the massive spool?? “No, I didn’t tell him ‘bonjour’!”

Matt glanced out the window and then walked outside to talk to the mysterious man and his giant spool. After some time of animated conversation, he returned and filled me in on the story.

Apparently, the man owned property above us (we live on a hill) and his children had been using the spool to play a game of “circus.” The spool began spinning out of control, rolled off the embankment above our property, dropped twelve feet, and landed smack on the hood of Matt’s car. It left a perfect imprint of the spool in its wake.

Luckily, none of us were outside when it happened. Matt and Mr. Spool Man traded contact information and his insurance was able to cover the damage to the car.

The Slippery Clutch Finds a New Home

Shortly after the Thanksgiving spool episode, Matt decided it was time for an upgrade from the slippery clutch and bought a Mercedes from a friend. But what to do with the slippery clutch? Surely, no one would want to buy it.

For six months, the slippery clutch sat in our driveway–outcast and leaking rain. Then we miraculously found someone willing to give the car a new home: the owner of the local garage where we get our cars serviced. He planned to use it as his loaner for customers when they drop off their car for maintenance or repair.

And it appears he followed through with his plan. Every now and then, we will catch a glimpse of the slippery clutch zipping around town in all its dilapidated glory.

Hopefully it doesn’t rain.

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Dana is a librarian living in the South of France with her husband and two children.

2 thoughts on “The Slippery Clutch

  1. This is the best story…the slippery clutch lives on. The story really brings the slippery clutch to life! Sure you have an upgrade but I bet the Mercedes doesn’t bring near the adventure as TSC brought into your lives!


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