I had an adventurous afternoon yesterday. But before I get into that, it is necessary to give a bit of background information.
Earlier this week, my wife told me she had to go to Louisville on Thursday for a conference. In discussing this, she told me that she was nervous, because her car just “didn’t feel right” lately, and she was worried about it breaking down on her. I suggested that she could take my car, if she felt that worried, but she sort of blew it off and said it would probably be fine. We discussed how, if she were to break down, we have people/contacts in Louisville we could call to come help her. Not really too big of a cause for worry. After our conversation, I didn’t give it much more thought.
So yesterday, around 3:50, my wife called to say she was leaving Louisville from the conference, and was on her way back to Lexington. We chatted for a few minutes, then got off the phone. I went back to what I was doing, and within just a minute or two, she called me again. I was kind of irritated because she does that fairly frequently – she will call, we’ll talk, we’ll hang up, then she’ll remember something else and call right back.
Well, this time, when we got on the phone, her voice sounded panicky and she was saying that there was something wrong with her car. When she pressed the gas pedal, the RPM’s were going up, but she was not getting any speed. She was slowing down well below the speed limit as she attempted to go up a short incline in the highway. We stayed on the phone and she grew more panicky by the moment, saying that she could get speed as she went downhill, but could hardly get uphill at all. Then, a lot of white smoke started coming out from behind/under the car. I told her to slow down but keep trying to move forward to get to the next exit. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the next exit was about 8 or 9 miles away. She had just passed the interchange of I-64 and I-265 (that’s the Gene Snyder Freeway, which sort of marks the outer boundary of Louisville to the east), so she was about 3 miles past the Gene Snyder, outside of Louisville, heading toward Lexington.
She finally stated that she was going to have to pull over. When she pulled over, she felt like she didn’t get over far enough, so she attempted to start the car again to pull over farther, and the car wouldn’t start at all.
By now, I was telling her to call 911 to ask for a police officer to come by, and to call some of our friends in Louisville. I hurried out the door and jumped in my car. It was about 4:00. I had to get out of downtown Lexington right as rush hour was starting, I had to stop and get gas, and then I had to drive about 60 miles (58 miles, according to Google Maps) to the Gene Snyder, where I had to double back about 3 more miles to the spot where she was pulled over.
I did it in about 55 minutes.
Definitely the quickest Lexington to Louisville trip I’ve ever made. On the way, I was in contact with my wife most of the time. She had tried to call some of our friends, but they weren’t home. I called a friend of mine who doesn’t live far from where she was, and he was at home, but was getting ready to leave for work. He said he could go get her, however, if I needed him too. Fortunately, the police officer showed up fairly quickly, and was very accommodating and nice, so I called my friend back and told him he didn’t need to come.
The police officer stayed with her a while and then gave her a direct line, emergency number to call should someone approach her car. He also promised to do his normal circuit and then come back to check on her. In the meantime, she called a tow truck place that he said he trusted, and they agreed to come out and tow the car back to a dealership in Louisville (it would have cost nearly $300 to have them tow it to Lexington), and they agreed to take the keys and give them to the dealership so that we didn’t have to go over there in person.
When I was about 20 minutes away, my wife mentioned that there were men cleaning up trash along the highway nearby. Of course, these would be convicted criminals, probably out on probation, doing required community service. She told me that one of them was very close to the car picking up trash, and kept looking over at her in curiosity. Right about that time, like a deus ex machina, the police officer showed back up. He came over to her window and said, “I think I’ll just go ahead and stay with you now until your husband and the tow truck get here.” She felt very relieved by that, as did I.
After I got there, we had to wait another 15 minutes or so for the tow truck. I had just finished drinking a 20-ounce glass of water right before I left, and by this time I really had to pee. Fortunately, once the tow truck got there, we were able to go ahead and leave, letting him take care of hooking the car up and towing it back to the dealership. I stopped at a rest area to relieve myself.
There were two other twists involved here. First, both our kids were still at daycare. The youngest stays with a private sitter, but our oldest is in a traditional daycare that closes at 6:00. We didn’t pull away from the tow truck until about 5:20, and then we had to stop for me to go to the bathroom. Since we don’t have any family in Lexington, we had no one to call. Fortunately, our youngest daughter’s private sitter had no problem just keeping her until we could get her, and my oldest daughter’s best friend’s mother was willing to pick her up and take her back to her house, which is in a neighboring subdivision.
The second twist was that my Thursday class started at 6:00, and I had a paper due, along with a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation to give. I could not miss the class. Fortunately, it is a laid back class with a very easygoing instructor, and I knew he wouldn’t mind if I had to be late. I called and left a message for him.
In the end, I managed to leave downtown Lexington around 4:00, right at the start of rush hour, stop and get gas, get all the way to the Gene Snyder Freeway in Louisville, 60 miles away, double back 3 miles, sit on the side of the interstate for 15 or 20 minutes waiting for the tow truck, stop at a rest area to pee, then get all the way to Winchester Road in Lexington to my school, get inside and change into my scrubs, and get into my classroom – all by 6:15.
Not bad, eh?
The bad news, of course, is that my wife’s clutch burned out, and the car won’t be ready until Wednesday, and we won’t be able to pick it up until next Friday, and it’s going to set us back $1900. Her parents are going to pay for a rental car for us, which is very nice and helpful of them.
So much for getting our credit cards paid off with our tax refund! But, at least we have the money right now to pay for it (if this had happened even 2 months ago, I don’t know what we would have done), and at least it happened on a warm, sunny day, there was plenty of traffic around so my wife wasn’t alone on a deserted stretch of highway, there was a cop there very quickly who was very nice and helpful, it wasn’t a day where she accidentally forgot her cell phone, and it happened on a day when I didn’t have a major test or a class with an uptight, stickler instructor.
The moral of the story – when you suspect something might be wrong with your car, don’t attempt to drive it to Louisville!