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McCoy: The Coat Hanger Fix
Pecan Pie for the Mind
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We’ve all been there before, right? Your car muffler is hanging by a thread and scraping the ground. So, you go to your garage to get your “universal repair kit,” but your wife says you’d better not even think of using duct tape on a hot muffler, and you really don’t want to burn up your arm just to show her who’s boss. So, what are you going to do? If you’re not too afraid of death, you’ll probably go to your closet and pick out a nice, metal coat hanger. Then you’ll hoist the muffler up to the right height, and you’ll wrap that coat hanger around the tailpipe and the frame a few times, and you’ll walk away with a smug smile and a prayer on your lips. That’s probably what you’ll do if you’re not too smart. It certainly describes the way I “fixed” a muffler, one time, long ago.

Dangerous and unstable car repair jobs are a classic southern-boy move, but I made the mistake of assuming everyone would appreciate my creative risk-taking. Well, they didn’t. When I showed my temporary repair job to my young son, he said, “Is that a coat hanger holding your muffler on?” I beamed at him, and said, “Yes, it is! Pretty good trick, isn’t it?” He looked at me and said, “That’s a white coat hanger from our closet, right?” He was right; I had picked out a rather shiny, white one. “Yeah. It’s a pretty ingenious idea, right?” Then he delivered the killer punch: “Does Mom know about this?” It was at that point that I knew he wasn’t going to be a good character reference for my repair skills. “Well, Mom doesn’t need to inspect…” I never finished the sentence, because he started laughing pretty loudly. “You fixed your car with a white, metal coat hanger! Mom’s gotta see this!” Sadly, I think he meant that as a threat.

I got rid of that old car a few years after the “coat hanger incident,” but my son still laughs about my repair job. I can’t really blame him. Even though the muffler didn’t move an inch, and I eventually ordered all the “proper” repair parts from the dealer, I’ll have to agree with him that using a coat hanger is a poor way to repair a muffler. Everyone knows that you need to use duct tape if you want to do any real, lasting repair jobs. Sheesh.


David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at