Getting a car to the garage

I have a 1996 Mazda Protege w/approx. 60,000 miles on it. In July, the gear shift cable broke and my garage estimated that it would cost roughly $550 to repair. I thought that was rather steep and declined to fix it at the time. It has been sitting idly in my driveway since. I have now found another mechanic (about 30 miles away) and want to get the car back on the road. I need to get my car to him and can’t afford to have it towed. This past July, when I initially called to have the car towed to the garage, the tow-truck driver had me pop the hood. He did something to get the car in gear and I was able to drive the car to the garage. Can someone tell me what he did/pulled/adjusted in order to get the car in driveable condition? I know very little about cars, but think I could do this with some guidance. Any help is appreciated.

The tow truck driver apparently hand-moved the linkage very close to the transmission, thereby by-passing the broken part of the cable. However, without the ability to post a diagram, it would be difficult for me to adequately describe this to you. Perhaps someone else can attach a link to a specific page from a Haynes repair manual for you.

30 miles is a long way to drive a car with a non-drivable condition and little knowledge.

You don’t specify if manual shift or automatic, if manual I would not attempt this as whatever “fix” will work itself loose over that distance. If automatic maybe then attempt it.

If you drove the car to a garage in July (after the tow truck driver manually selected “Drive” at the transmission), then drove it home again, shouldn’t it still be in gear?

If he is still in gear, it how will the OP start the engine?

Do you have a friend with a full-sized pick-up truck or dually? If so, you could rent a tow dolly from U-Haul.