When it comes to daddy issues, I have a surplus. This is not one of those posts.
This morning I had one of the most terrifying driving experiences I have ever known, and that is even considering I have been in 2 serious accidents and have blown a front tire at 70+ MPH. While tootling along the freeway on this morning’s snowy commute cold, icy air started pouring from my vents where it was piping hot moments before. I was quite startled and confused. Then my entire dashboard lit up and I lost complete power. I could not accelerate and my steering wheel was almost locked into place. Oh, and I was in the middle lane. While coasting I tried to make my way over to the right lane and onto the shoulder, but this was also at a point where there is a freeway on-ramp. SO MUCH FUN.
I finally made it over to the shoulder as far as I could and took a deep breath and tried to relax my tensed shoulders and death-like handgrip on the wheel. As I exhaled my hazard lights froze. So I am basically parked without lights, blocking the end of the onramp on the narrowest piece of shoulder while cars are whizzing past me inches away. Who do you call first? Police? Tow truck? I called my (retired) dad and crawled over to the passenger seat to feel a fraction safer.
I like to think I am empowered enough to take control of a situation. If I had children in the backseat I could have put on a brave face and calmly called a tow truck. Instead I was alone and I was scared. I am not ashamed I called my dad first. The man pulled up behind me not 10 minutes later, causing me to think he perhaps did not make full stops at intersections along the way.
I got into his warm car (with working hazard lights) and called a tow truck. There has never been a time I have needed AAA without them experiencing an unusually high call volume warning, but I eventually got through and explained the situation. Despite not knowing the exact address of the mechanic I wanted the car towed to (do you guys know that off the top of your head while on a call?), I was assured a tow truck would be onsite within 90 minutes.
Dad calmed me down and told me about some of his dead car adventures (driving shitty cars is a family affair.) He even tried to tell me he was sure it was something stupid and easy to fix, like a cable. I did not believe him and was mentally calculating how much money I could justify putting into this car. I called the mechanic to warn of our impending arrival via tow truck, and about 40 minutes into waiting a sheriff pulled up telling us we had to move. I explained the car was completely dead and we were waiting on the tow truck. He said we were going to get killed in our position and he wanted to push me to a safer spot.
The sheriff had my dad pull out of the way and had me get back into my car and get it into neutral. THEN HE RAMMED ME. Do you have an adequate image in your head? I was supposed to steer my crappy little cavalier (with inability to turn said steering wheel) and avoid the freeway traffic directly adjacent to me on snow-covered pavement while he
pushed rammed me forward. I thought he just wanted to get me to a wider spot on the shoulder. No, I was wrong. When I applied the brakes he honked at me and kept pushing ramming while I slid. This continued until the next freeway exit almost a mile away. The exit ramp is a giant curve – oh what fun in a dead car with no steering and snowy conditions.
Once we were off the freeway and onto the cross street I got back in my dad’s car (his heated seats doing NOTHING to calm my nerves at this point.) After another 20 minutes on hold with AAA to update my location for the tow truck, Dad asked if power had come on when I tried to start the car. I said I only turned key partway but that electrical power had come on. He told me to try and start the car just to see where we were at. It started with no dashboard lights, and dad followed me to the mechanic and then drove me to work (there is also another 15 minutes on hold with AAA, again, in there somewhere.) My hands did not stop shaking for more than an hour.
No one has a clue what happened to my car. Battery was low (new battery 6 weeks ago) but alternator checked out. They charged the battery and it is theoretically operational. I am perfectly content driving a shitty car, but an unreliable one is nervewracking.
Verdict: Cars are trouble but, today, my dad is pretty awesome.