Sunday, May 21, 2023

When Bad Things Happen To Daffy People

Well, LAST weekend, I thought Sunday was second Saturday because I don’t work on Mondays during the summer and this makes sense to ME but probably not to you. Bottom line: forgot to post a Ten Things of Thankful.

THIS weekend, I am in Nashville, staying with my Person, Terri, and having lots of girl time. I had lunch today with my friend Janice. Yesterday, Terri and I had lunch with our old buddy Larry. Tonight, we are hanging out with Marianne. There will be much laughing, talking, and eating over the next couple of days, and my cup will be full. There’s much to be thankful for in all this, but I got one even bigger thankful to share. Here’s the story:

I left really early for my lunch date with Janice today; so early, in fact, that I decided to go get that pesky low tire pressure light checked out. Through a series of unfortunate events, my five minute tire pressure check turned into an hour long ordeal of stuck caps on the stemmy part of the tire and a broken tire sensor (their fault, not mine), and I was running late to meet Janice.

When the tire sensor was finally repaired, I had five minutes to make a 15 minute drive. I told Janice I was on my way, hopped on the freeway, and floored it (NOTE: I believe I have been late every single time I have EVER gotten together with Janice over the past 35 years, so she couldn't have been terribly surprised by this).

I was booking it down the interstate when there was a terrible THUNK sound from somewhere within the car, it began to shake, and then drastically slow down. I had no power anything, particularly steering, but I managed to wrestle the enormous beast to the shoulder before rolling to a stop. 

I was terrified.

I messaged Janice first and told her what happened, my entire body trembling as cars sped past me. I finally reached a person at AAA when a small truck pulled up behind me. I panicked further, thinking it was some scammer who was going to offer to fix my car for an exorbitant amount of money. "It says "TOOT HELP" in the front window, but I'm scared," I told the AAA woman. Waaaaait a minute. NOT "TOOT" but "TDOT"! It was someone from the Tennessee Department of Transporation! I was saved!

I accidentally hung up on the AAA woman as my knight in a shining TDOT uniform flipped on the giant detour arrow on the back of his truck and came to my window to see what the problem was. I described the thunk and the car dying. He looked under the hood to check the battery connection, then had me try to start the car. It made weird starty noises, but that was it. "Could be a fuel line problem," he said. "Maybe your fuel pump. You wouldn't be low on gas, would you?" 

"The fuel light was on," I told him, "but it's showing I have 1/8 of a tank of gas, so it can't be that." 

"I'm just going to put a little gas in the tank and see if that helps at all," he said. He poured some gas in the tank, asked me to try starting it again, and....


"Hmmm," I said, then hid my face in the steering wheel.

"Aw, it happens," the TDOT guy said as a second TDOT truck pulled up behind him. "I'm going to follow you to the nearest gas station. Wait, on second thought, you follow me and this guy will follow you."

And so I was escorted back onto the freeway and to the nearest gas station (an Exxon, which I ordinarily boycott because Valdez oil spill, but I had to sacrifice my personal convictions this one time for a full tank gas), a little parade with me flanked by two TDOT vehicles, giant arrows flashing, all the way to the gas station. Terri met me there to make sure everything was okay (it was), my hero checked under the hood one more time, and after the car triumphantly started with a tummy full of gas, he rode off into the sunset, but not before I gave him a giant hug. God bless TDOT and God bless my hero of the highway!

A file photo from TDOT showing the two types of
roadside assistance vehicles that made up my 
motorcade to the Exxon station

I made it to lunch only an hour late, and I'd like to say Janice was surprised by this as much as she was by the crazy events of  the morning, but nah (I once accidentally threw my fork out the restaurant window when we were having lunch). Really, no one was, including my new friend from TDOT.

No friends like old friends

If you happened to read my A to Z Challenge entry for "X" you may notice some striking coincidences between this story and that one....

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  1. I had a similar experience in Michigan years ago. I had a blow-out on the highway and an MDOT truck pulled over and changed the tire for me. I was so thankful and relieved when they stopped and saved me.

  2. Grateful that you had the MDOT. That's pretty awesome!

  3. Those "highway help" programs are such a blessing. Your story sounds like some of the ones i can tell about being stuck on the highway, and other places. Stopping just to check a tire on a tight schedule is a recipe, for us, for a disaster and it sounds like you came in for a bit of that yourself.

    Anyway, I'm glad you got to go and have a good time!