Monday, May 11, 2009

Stupid, Embarrassing Car

Boy, howdy, did I have an adventure on Friday!
The sedan broke down on the highway, in rush hour traffic, while I was driving home.

Setting the Stage
My commute is along the Merritt Parkway, which is a two lane, scenic highway crossing Connecticut. As a major commute route, it usually gets clogged up with bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling along at 20 miles-per-hour, so a trip that would take half an hour mid-day or on the weekend can take upwards of one hour during rush hour.
Since I have to slog through 20 miles of this, my usual plan of attack is to hunker down in the fast lane to avoid having to deal with people merging on an off.
This is what I was doing Friday when something suddenly felt wrong with the car.
I killed the radio and couldn't hear anything.
Just as I was realizing the gas pedal was having no affect, it occurred to me the service engine and battery lights were on.
Oh, Frak.
Fortunately, I had enough momentum to cost up onto the nice, wide, grassy shoulder next to me.
It did not occur to me to make my way over to the right hand shoulder since I didn't know how long I would continue coasting, and I figured I would just restart the car and be on my merry way.

Not So Fast
Only the car didn't restart.
Dammit Janet.
Then it didn't start again.
So I called Hubby.
I can't tell you what I expected him to do from home, but it was my first instinct so I went with it.
"Did you run out of gas?"
I replied, "Nooo," is a snotty voice, but I was thinking Dude, in the eight years we've been married have I ever been stranded by running out of gas?!
As I was already digging through my purse and the glove compartment looking for the roadside assistance number, I was surprised to learn Hubby didn't know that was part of our car insurance.
Apparently we need to have a meeting to discuss some business matters in this marriage of ours. Of course, he would have called me hissing and spitting if he was the one to break down, and I would have told him where to find the roadside number so it would have all worked out.

Hello, Officer
I had a heart stopping moment when the lady at the insurance company said she didn't see roadside on my policy, but she transferred me to another department and that guy didn't bat and eye.
By the time I had given him my info and called Hubby back, I was out of the car because it was getting hot.
Then a state trooper magically appeared behind me.
I gave them a very abbreviated version of everything I just shared with you. Then roadside called back and said 30 minutes.
The Troopers said they weren't really supposed to leave me on the median, but I was totally up on the shoulder, and traffic wasn't too bad, so they would check on me in half an hour and if my tow truck wasn't there they'd move me.
I called Hubby, again.
Then one of the State's massive orange distressed motorist trucks showed up.
The Troopers walked back over and said "Since this guy is here anyway, we'll go ahead and move you to the other shoulder."
Excuse me?
I put the car in neutral, and as the massive orange truck blocked the highway and stopped traffic, they eased their patrol car up behind me and nudged me with their rubber bumpers that are just for occasions like this.
This gave me enough momentum to coast across the two lanes and onto the shoulder.
I was mortified!
Then the Troopers came over and said, "Ok, you'll be safe here, we feel better now. Have a nice day."
Yeah, everyone kept asking me "How's it going?" and telling me to "Have a nice day." Dudes, my car is broken down on the highway during rush hour. How do you think it's going?

Traitorous Piece of Machinery
Left to my own devices, I called Hubby—again—then did what you would expect.
I took a deep breath, got out my knitting (Cotton Ribbed Sock for the win!) and thought, "Well, at least the weather is nice. And won't I have a good story for the blog."
Happily, the tow truck showed up when it was supposed to.
The driver looked like a hippy with a yellow bandanna and neatly braided hair, which was longer than mine. Hubby said the guy reminded him of Chong, from Cheech and Chong.
Anyway, we were at the dealership in a flash where Hubby was waiting for us, since I had called him—again—when the tow truck arrived so he could time his arrival.
The Driver was all "Have a nice day," but then doubled back to get the car's mileage.
Hubby engaged the ignition and I could see the gears turning in his brain.
As soon as the Driver was back in his truck, Hubby started the car.
Gasp! "Holy Smokes! I swear it wouldn't start for me."
"You know what a nervous bunny I am! Would I have put myself through this for nothing?!"
That's true.
But he went inside and retrieved the key and the work order in an effort to avoid the $94 diagnostic fee. (The service department was closed when I arrived.)

$300 Later
Since the car was due for a tire rotation and oil change anyway, Hubby went back on Saturday morning and was said he didn't want to pay the fee since the problem would probably turn up during the tune up.
The guy agreed.
Turns out something was leaking which was setting off some sensor that control the oil flow, which is what caused the engine to stall. It cooled down after sitting for 30 mins, which is why Hubby was able to start it.
So we're all repaired now.
We agreed that it could have been much worse: I could have stalled flat and been rear-ened. It could have been raining, or at night, or further from home, or during the week when we need both cars. And the repairs could have cost more.
But, still, it was a lousy way to start the weekend!

1 comment:

  1. That happened to me as well!! I was driving to work (rush hour, morning), Central Columbus traffic, talking to my mom on the cell (of course), and the car just stopped working.... I told my mother, "Um, the car stopped working." And she said, "OH, okay, call me later and hung up." (obviously Mom doesn't want to be involved with any trauma now that I am an adult).... Anyhow, I called Paul and said, "Hey, the car broke down and nothing works." He said, "Where are you?" I said, "On my way to work." He said, "Where exactly?" I said, "Um... I don't know.... the freeway" You can guess the rest of this conversation!!!! In any event - transmission gone. We had to have it towed. Thanks for bringing back the memories!!