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Light up the sky, roadside breakdown

Yesterday started out well enough. I did all of my housework and then some, did the work I wanted to get done, and the kids and I left a few minutes early for our 30ish minute drive to Dan’s aunt’s and uncle’s house for a Fourth of July get-together. But then my car started to act weird.

(Preface: my car is ten years old, just rolled over 130,000 miles, and I’m its third owner. But I don’t drive it hard, I keep on top of regular maintenance for it, and I don’t put a lot of mileage on it, since I work from home and mainly use it for local errands or the occasional out of town trip to visit friends or my brother (I used to take Dan’s car, back in the days when it had A/C and cruise control. But since it now has neither, it makes sense to just take mine, which has awesome A/C and much better gas mileage!). When I first got it, in December of 2005, it had 77,000 miles on it. It just rolled over 130,000 miles… 6.5 years later. That’s an average of 8,100 miles per year, which is well below the national average. (And keep in mind that I live in a rural area, where the nearest gas station is four miles away, and the nearest retail store is eight miles away!) )

First the A/C stopped working. Then my check engine, check battery, and emergency brake lights all came on. I knew something was wrong, but nothing sounded wrong, and aside from the A/C I still had power, and since I was so close to Dan’s aunt’s and uncle’s house, I decided to just drive the rest of the way there, rather than turn around and driving so far to get back home and risking getting stranded. Better to get stranded very close to, or better yet at, a family member’s house! So we make it there okay, though I did notice that my temperature gauge was climbing up – by the time I was within a mile of the house, the needle was at the three quarter mark (aka 3/4 of the way to HOT HOT HOT SHUT THE DAMN CAR OFF NOW).

Dan’s uncle kindly popped the hood (once I told him and his wife that I parked on their grass, instead of in their driveway, so as not to potentially block anyone in, and apologized in advance in case my car wouldn’t start when I went to leave later that evening), and found that one of my fan belts was gone, and another belt was barely hanging on. This is where I just shake my head and say, “I knew it”, because I knew it. I’ve been hearing belts squealing for several weeks, but Dan was all, “I don’t know” and “They’re probably just wet” and “Blah blah blah you’re such a woman”. Psh.

Anyway, we were there to hang out with family and celebrate the holiday, and in any case it wasn’t a good idea for me to attempt to drive my car home until much later, when it would be darker and thus cooler (since my engine now had no belt to run to cool it down while it was running), so on to the delicious food and fun for the kids and great time with family and awesome sparklers and fireworks (Ryan stayed inside the house during the fireworks, so I’m glad I had the foresight to bring both his iPad and his beloved stuffed owls along – especially since we stayed until 10pm.)!

Photo a Day July: 04/31
(Sassy, one of their dogs, loves the water! Can you tell?)

Sadly, my car did not make it home. Dan was done work at 7, and he made the 45 minute drive over to his aunt’s and uncle’s house in order to spend some time with his family for the holiday, but more importantly to follow me home. We went slow, and I coasted as much as possible, in order to keep acceleration down to a minimum. My car made it 15 miles of the 21 mile drive. About 12 miles in my interior lights began to dim. I lost my headlights not long after, but Dan stayed behind me so no one would run into me (he had his hazards on since we were going slow, and put his high beams on so I’d have some light in front of me). My hazards were just about dead when my engine died, and fortunately I was able to feel/hear/see it coming, so I turned the wheel sharply to the right and was able to get my car off the road and onto the shoulder. The road was uphill, of freaking course, so there was no coasting – just a dead stop, pretty much, onto a very narrow shoulder, on a very narrow, very dark country road, whose speed limit is 45mph. Gah.

My thing, my “weakness”, so to speak, is that when I am stressed, or angry, or even frustrated? I cry. I was stressing the entire drive, keeping an eye on the temperature gauge and easing off the acceleration whenever it crept up, squinting to see in front of me (we live in the boonies, Dan’s aunt and uncle live in the boonies, so the entire 21 mile drive is all country road with no lights other than what you have from vehicles), and praying my car would hold out until we got home. So when it died on the side of the damn road, uphill, six miles from home, on a narrow shoulder where we couldn’t leave it… yeah, I cried. Dan tried to hook it up to the Hyundai to tow it at least up the road a bit to where there was a church (and parking lot), but we don’t have chains (guess what’s on our PURCHASE ASAP AND STICK IN THE TRUNK JUST IN CASE WE NEED THEM shopping list?), and even though my car is “only” 2700ish lbs, well, as soon as the rope Dan triple-tied between the two cars was pulled taunt, it snapped like a fucking twig.

Thank god it was the Fourth of July, and thus people were up late. By now it was close to midnight. A married couple, C and E, saw Dan’s hazards and heard our car doors, and came to check out the “commotion”. Fast forward fifteen minutes later, and C and I were talking about kids and school, while E and Dan were getting my car hooked up to E’s SUV (with chains, heh), while Alyssa and Ryan were petting C and E’s goats and chickens.

Currently my car is still sitting on the outskirts of their property, safely off the road, but also out of the way of their driveway and the rest of their yard. God bless them, seriously. They were under no obligation to check up on strangers so late at night like that, nor did they have to go out of their way to help us. I am so grateful. I hugged them both, and of course cried some more as soon as they offered to tow my car into their driveway so it would be off the road.

Payday is tomorrow (fingers and toes and tonsils and ovaries crossed!), and Dan doesn’t work until 4, so as long as everything works out like it should, new belts will be installed in my car, it’ll be jumped (chances are the battery is shot, but we can test that after we jump it to get it home) to get it started, and my baby will be back in our driveway by the afternoon. CROSS ALL THE THINGS AND HOPE WITH ME, PEOPLE. Also? I am SO baking these people cookies. And taking C up on her offer/request for a playdate for our sproglets (she has two younger kids that are 4 and 6). :)

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3 replies to “Light up the sky, roadside breakdown” - Go to comment form

  1. I would have been crying too! Nearly all of my car related anxiety attacks had to do with breakdowns… I remember I broke down once in the middle of a turn lane into a shopping center! Talk about completely nerve wracking! People were honking at me and shaking their fists. Scariest thing ever.
    nikkiana recently blogged about: Happy (Day After the) 4th of July!

  2. Rebecca


    I’m a big believer in Things Happen For A Reason. Maybe you were supposed to break down so you make this great new friend for you and your kids? :) x

  3. I’m the same way – anytime I get really frustrated I can’t help but to start crying. Its maddening. Glad you got to meet some good people out of the bad situation though. It is always nice to see stories like this. I hope you get everything up and running again soon.


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