Well, friends, I have returned from my ‘mini-vacation’, which turned out to be even ‘mini-er’ than I planned. You will get a kick out of this story …
I will always believe it was the red car. When you rent a car, usually it’s grey or black, but this time they gave me a bloomin’ RED car. Not just any red, but a red so bright that it hurt your eyes to look at it. I do not care for red cars. Now I am convinced that they are jinxed.
I got a bit of a late start – 9:00 instead of 8:00 – but okay, I would still be there well before dark, probably by 6:30. The rain was torrential, and being visually challenged anyway, it made for some very tense driving, but I was happy that I was going to see H and have a fun weekend. It was also windy, and there was a considerable amount of debris on the highway. One such piece of debris turned out to be a long piece of some sort of metal and by the time I saw it, I could not avoid it as there were cars on either side of mine, so I ran over it at 65 miles per hour. Everything seemed fine until about 20 minutes later when a light flashed on the dashboard telling me that my tire pressure was low, and I knew immediately what had happened.
I got off at the next exit, a small town with only one service station attached to a convenience store/deli. I parked and went inside, hoping they could direct me to a tire store, but no such luck … the nearest one was some 20 miles, and I knew my tire would not make it that far. So, I called Roadside Assistance. A snippet of that conversation:
He: Was this flat tire a result of vandalism?
He: Was it the result of an accident?
Me: No (thinking that if I had an accident, the flat tire would be the least of my worries)
He: When did you first notice the flat tire?
Me: About 20 minutes ago
He: Can you give me the exact time?
Me: Probably not, as I did not look at the clock … and why does it matter?
He: I’m just trying to pin down the problem, ma’am
Me: The problem is that the left front tire has no air in it.
He: What is the mileage on the car?
He: So why do you think the tire is flat?
Me: Because the car is sitting on the rim, and because the dashboard monitor told me so.
He: But what do you think happened to it?
Me: Possibly it was damaged when I ran over some debris in the roadway, but I do not understand why any of this matters. I am stranded in this rental car and I am hoping to get to Pennsylvania sometime this week!
The conversation went on for another 3-4 minutes and ended with him telling me that somebody would be there with a new tire in about an hour. An hour came … and went. After 75 minutes, I received a text message telling me that the service tech would be there in another hour. Sigh. But he did not actually bring a replacement tire … he merely put on the temporary tire that was in the trunk and warned me not to drive more than 50 miles or so before replacing it with a full-size tire.
So, I set off in search of a tire store in the nearest large town. I decided to stop at Wal-Mart, a store that I typically avoid at all costs, and ask where the nearest tire store was. Turns out that Wal-Mart actually deals in tires and if I would just drive around back they would have me back on my way in no time. “No time” turned out to be another two hours, and by now it was 5:00 and still pouring rain. At best, it would take me until midnight to get to H’s house, whereas I was only 2 hours from home. So, H & I agreed that, since I cannot see to drive after dark, it made more sense for me to just go back home and we will reschedule for next month.
But the story isn’t quite done yet. Turns out the car rental company will not re-imburse me the $80 for the tire, because … one has to purchase additional ‘roadside assistance’ for them to cover things like that. Who knew?
And then … I almost broke my thumb. See, it was still pouring rain and my eyes were about shot by this time, so after I drove for an hour, I pulled off at a rest area to give my eyes a break and have a smoke. Since it was pouring rain, I put the window down only when I needed to flick my ashes outside, then immediately put the window back up. Well, I got in too big of a hurry to get that window back up, and my thumb was still outside when the electric window reached the top. Be advised … electric windows do not stop for metatarsals. The thumb is bruised, but not broken, by the way.
And so sums up my journey … 2 days preparing, 2 hours packing, 10 hours on the road, and … well, I am thankful to be home safe and sound, so I am not complaining or fretting. In fact, I had rather a good chuckle over the whole thing … after a few tears, that is. We are hoping for a more successful trip in four weeks. Meanwhile, I will be back in the saddle after I unpack my suitcase and rest for a bit.