How Do You Fix A Hanging Muffler? With A Bra, Of Course

By Liz Farrell The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)

We have a real-life MacGyver living on Hilton Head Island. Someone who, like the fictional character on the TV show of the same name, knows how to cobble together a solution to a potentially dangerous situation with a few simple items.

Or just one item, as it turns out.

But I'll get to that in a second.

I went to the "Women Auto Know" party Thursday evening at H&H Auto Service on Hilton Head and hung out for a little with Cindy Tuttle of Sea Pines and Terry Jefferies of Bluffton. They were first to hit the open bar and secure two Cartinis, a cosmo-like concoction of vodka, cranberry and sparkling wine with a lime.

About 30 women were at the garage to learn about basic car maintenance, have some food and maybe ogle the service technicians just a little -- just a very tiny bit. One looked like Fonzie without the leather jacket. I'm not kidding.

Tuttle, Jefferies and I talked about our collective lack of knowledge when it comes to cars. Jefferies, like me, had to learn to drive on a stick shift. Her brother tried to teach her but ended up laughing the whole time because of all the bucking.

"She's hopeless!" he reported back to their father.

"'You know what?', my father told me," Jefferies said. "'You're grounded until you learn to drive the car.' So I told him 'You're grounded until you teach me.'"

We all gasped at that one.

"One lesson with my father, though," she said, "and I learned how to drive a stick shift. One lesson. I never bucked again." This is when I met MacGyver, who was sitting nearby and had been listening in.

"I have a story for you," she said. Yes, "she." Women can MacGyver things too, you know.

MacGyver, by the way, is Ginny from Hilton Head, who asked that I not use her last name. In fact, she wouldn't even let me use her story.

I begged to share this.

Years ago, when Ginny was a young mother, she drove to her mother's house in Western Pennsylvania with her 3-year-old. Along the way, she heard a "clickety-clank."

"The muffler had fallen off," she said. "(The garage) didn't put the hangers back on."

So Ginny did something no man could ever do.

She took off her bra and tied the muffler back on with it.

"I got to my mother's house, and she said 'Ginny. I know that's the style now, but there's a child here.'"

Because she wasn't trying to scandalize anyone, Ginny changed into another bra from her old bedroom and traded out the muffler-bra for some clothesline.

"On the way home. Same thing. Clickety-clank," she said. "The clothesline had melted."

So the bra went back on the muffler.

If you're a woman, you'll understand why what happened next makes this such a mortifying story for Ginny.

"The guys at the garage laundered my bra and had it waiting for me in a plastic bag," she mimicked holding up and swinging a bag very indiscreetly in the air. "They all knew my bra size. Every time I went back after that (she mimics whispering) 'That's her. That's the one.'"

For two hours on Thursday, Ginny and the other women learned skills like how to check the air in their tires and spot problems with the tread, how to tell the difference between old and new oil and what it actually means when that annoying "check engine" light comes on. It was the fourth time H&H Auto has held the event, something Bill Head and his wife Vicki try to do annually. The garage and its technicians were awash in pink.

"A lot of women have never had to worry about these things," said Elizabeth Anderson, who is a service-writer at the garage. "Their husbands always did it."

It's an empowering thing to have automotive self-sufficiency. I'm guessing it is, anyway. I recently had to put up with a slow and enunciated explanation of how to use my remote start, which I had declared broken to the guy at the dealership.

"He's going to feel terrible when he realizes I'm right," I thought. But no. It was me who felt terrible. He was right. User error.

Over at the tire station, technician Nick Heinkel showed Cindy Newman of Walterboro and Laura Kade of Hilton Head the cupping on the tire of a 1933 Ford kit car. The car had been sitting for 11 years.

"See this cracking," he showed them.

"What happens when you rotate a tire?" Newman asked.

"Explain this machine."

"What's that?"

Newman and Kade followed Heinkel around as he demonstrated each aspect of balancing tires.

"This is the first time I've been offered to come to a class like this," Kade said. "I have a 'humming tire' and I want to know ... well, it's not singing a tune I like."

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