Friday, June 26, 2009

Laurie and Jake's Not-So-Excellent Adventure aka: I have had it with these mother fucking ticks on this mother fucking water bottle!

Jake and I decided to go to the drive-in cinema last night. The closest one is in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, about 45 minutes away from us on the highways. We went to see Night at the Museum 2 and The Hangover. I’d asked some people about how appropriate or inappropriate The Hangover would be for Jake, and decided that except for a couple scenes during the end credits, which we could easily avoid, the movie would be fine for him. Earlier in the day we drove to the grocery store to stock up on goodies for the night; got back home, packed up our pillows and a cooler, and took off.

We arrived about ½ an hour before the movies were to start, found a great space, and settled in. The car rolled back a bit when I parked it; weird, but I figured it was because we were on a bit of an incline, so I set the parking brake and shut off the car. After a few minutes, one of the staff asked if we would move up a row, as the last three rows (where we were) were designated for trucks and SUVs. No problem, there were still plenty of spaces. I started the car, put it in drive, and moved up a row. Again, the car rolled when I put it in park, and it did concern me a little; but I figured it was due to the incline, so I again set the parking brake, and settled in for the movies.

We enjoyed the movies very much. Night at the Museum was really cute, and The Hangover was very funny. As soon as it was over, I started up the car, intending to leave and miss those naughty credits I’d heard about. But the car would not go forward. In fact, it kept rolling back a bit. Not good. I kept moving the gear-shift, kept trying, but nothing worked. I have no clue as to how the gear-shift hooks up to the rest of the inner workings to make the transmission actually shift gears, but it seemed to me that whatever was supposed to be connected, was no longer connected. I also noted that as I moved the gear-shift, the little indicator lights on it changed according to where I moved the shift, but the gear indicator lights on the dashboard weren’t moving. It was stuck in “park”. Fuck me. (And yes, Jake saw the naughty parts in the credits I meant to have him miss!)

I sat and went over my options in my mind. I have AAA, but it was after midnight and I was in an area I was unfamiliar with. Where would I have the car towed to? Where would Jake and I go? Could we take a cab home? No, it would be way too expensive. And then how would we get back to RI to deal with the car tomorrow? I could call DF or even my dad to come get us; but again, how would we get back to RI to deal with the car? It didn’t make sense to try to get home. I needed to get the car to work! I went to the building and found a couple members of the staff to see if they could help us. I explained what was going on and asked if they knew a garage in the area. They didn’t, but pointed out to us another staff member, whose job it was to help people with their cars (jump-starts and such) when there was a problem. I found him and he came to take a look. First he thought the gears were stuck because we were on an incline. He was wrong. He looked under the hood, and after a few minutes, he determined that the transmission shifter cable had broken. (Just like I thought!) He thought he might even be able to fix it if he had the parts, and even mentioned he might be able to just slip it into “drive”, but then we’d be stuck in “drive”. Patrick (his name is Patrick) did say that I could leave the car there overnight, so I decided that might be my best bet, and asked him if he knew of a motel nearby. Turns out there is actually one just across the street, so we wouldn’t even need to take a cab! The street, however, is a highway, so we’d actually have to walk a ways up to the traffic lights to safely cross, and then walk back down to the motel. He insisted that his son, James, take a flashlight and walk the whole way with us, to make sure we got there safely. Patrick would be back there late in the morning for work, and we could meet back with him then and he’d try to fix it. They were both very kind and extremely helpful, and I am thankful they were there when we needed them.

We gathered up our jackets and water bottles and my purse and keys, locked the car and set off, with James, to the motel. We got there just as the rain started, and poor James had to walk back in the rain. It was after 1am, but the motel was open and had a vacancy, so we checked in and went to our room. We had a TV and air conditioning and two beds and a bathroom. We did not have clean clothes (did I mention it was hot and I was sweaty?) or toothbrushes or my night guard (I grind my teeth in my sleep and ALWAYS wear my night guard to bed) or a remote control for the TV. We put on the TV and tried to settle in. I reached for my water bottle, only to find there was a tick on it. Ew. I grabbed it up in some tissues and flushed it down the toilet. Then I realized that I must have picked it up on the walk over (I tried to walk on the grass so as not to get hit by a car on the highway), and I might have more. Double ew. I looked down and saw at least two on my pants. Fuck! I took off my socks, and plucked two ticks off the socks. I also removed four ticks from my pants. I flushed all of the ticks down the toilet, then searched the rest of my clothes, my shoes, and my body, but did not find any more. Jake then checked himself and his clothes, but did not find any ticks. Now I decided to take a shower. This was fine, except that I washed off my deodorant and hair gel, and had no more to reapply. Oh well. Then I put my dirty clothes back on, and went to bed.

Neither of us slept very well, but at least we had somewhere to sleep, right? We woke up and set off at about 10:00 in the morning. We had to walk all the way to the set of lights to cross the highway. On our way back down the other side, we stopped at a little coffee place on the way and picked up a muffin for me and a sandwich for Jake. Then we stopped at an auto repair garage, also on the way, and I asked them if they could sell me the parts I needed. The guy there was nice enough to listen, but informed me that a shifter cable was a dealer part, and I would need to get the VIN number off my car and call the dealer for the part. He gave me the name of a Toyota dealership not too far away, and suggested that was my best bet. We then continued our walk back to the drive-in, got to our car, ate our breakfast and waited for Patrick.

As we waited, I thought about what we should do next. It didn’t seem to make much sense to find a way to trek all the way to the Toyota dealership to get the part (if we could), and then bring it back to have Patrick repair the car, since he was supposed to be working and didn’t have a lift or anything. I should probably call AAA and have them tow the car to the Toyota dealership, where they could fix it. But how long would it take? What would Jake and I do while we waited? What if it couldn’t be done today? And I don’t like having the dealership do repairs, as they overcharge. So that was a plan, but I didn’t like it very much. What if I had Patrick slip the car into “drive” like he said he could, and I could just drive it back to a repair shop in my town? This was a bit risky, because once I was in “drive”, I would remain in “drive”. When I wanted to park it, I could put on the emergency brake and shut it off, but if I needed to back up, I’d be screwed. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided this was the better option. The repair shop near where we live offers free shuttle service home while they have your car. So if we could just get the car to them, then, no matter how long the repair took, at least we’d be home. And boy, would I like some clean clothes. And some coffee. And to feed and medicate my poor little cat who had missed her last dose of medicine and was surely starving by now, as well.

When Patrick arrived, I told him of my plan. I could tell he didn’t think it was the best idea because it was not completely safe, and reminded me that I would not be able to get it into reverse if I needed, etc. But I still thought it was worth the try. I called the repair shop and described what was happening, they said to bring it on over. I verified with that guy that when I got there, I should put on the emergency brake and shut it off, and he confirmed. Ok. I now had a workable plan. We popped the hood, I started the car, and I think it says a lot about what a stand-up guy Patrick is, that he would stand in front of a running car and trust a complete stranger to keep the brakes on while he slipped the car into drive. It worked perfectly. I thanked him profusely, and then slowly drove out of the lot.

We made it to the repair shop in my town in about 40 minutes or so. You know what’s pretty funny? Driving down the highway at 70 mph, you glance down at your gear-shift and the gear-shift is in “park”. That’s pretty darned funny. We got to the repair shop and stopped the car. (Not parked it, just stopped it. Ha. See what I did, there?) We had to gather up our pillows and our cooler and bring them inside with us, and I had to be seen in the middle of the day in a public place in what was supposed to be my drive-in apparel: a big tie-dyed shirt and my pajama pants. Turns out the guy had already opened up a repair ticket for me when I had called (did I mention I like this repair shop?), so they took my key and then gave us and our pillows and our cooler a ride home.

To top if off, we had no internet when we got home. I spent some time on the phone with a tech support guy from our internet service, and we determined that the router must have shit the bed. Great. I hooked up Jake’s PC directly to the modem, so he had internet, but I had none on my laptop. I would have run out right then to buy a new router, but, oh yeah…I have no car! At least we were home.

Several hours later, my car was done. They came and picked me up; I got my car, went to Best Buy to buy a new router, bought some Wendy’s on the way home, and set up my new router. Now I am sitting here, trying to just relax. Tomorrow, I think I will just stay home, do some laundry, and work on my quilt. And I just want to say, again, how wonderful Patrick and James were. They really went out of their way to help us out, and I am so thankful for that.


Annika said...

This is going to sound so silly, since you wouldn't have gone in the first place without Jake, but I'm so glad it was the two of you together. What an adventure!

Mostly, though, I'm glad you didn't need to back up! Eep!

Jennmgan said...

I *totally* would have driven home too! DRIVE! JUST DRIVE!!!

Great adventooo!

DropEdge said...

You sure got an awesome story out of what was supposed to be just a night at the movies.

CosmicAvatar said...

Blimey. Glad you had some good people around you in your time of need, at least!

Jess said...

Wow, I kinda got the highlights of this from Facebook, but this is the first chance I've had to read the whole escapade. Even though my mind wants to make it into some kind of Speed-like adventure, with all sorts of obstacles threatening to make you have to reverse, I am totally relieved that nothing like that happened in real life.

Anonymous said...

You are one cool and collected lady. If the same had happened to me, the car would still be at the drivein and I'd be in a padded cell somewhere. :oD

Patrick and Jake are wonderful inspirations and restorers of faith in human kindness.

Glad you and the boy are safe.