Stranded not once, but twice

January 3, 2013

Geez a couple of weeks ago I had thought I’d fallen off my own fiscal cliff. Well my own personal cliff didn’t have anything to do with money or taxes, but I really did worry a whole lot about my safety.

It was a Sunday. Predictably the weather was bad. I was heading to the Detroit area to return my 11-year-old son, who had spent the weekend with us. Since the roads were slick and expected to get worse, I decided to drive my older, 4-wheel drive truck. After all I didn’t want to slide off the road and put my son in danger.

The long boring drive, got a little interesting as were turning off I-75 onto U.S.23 and entering the Fenton city limits. My truck began to act up, like I was running out of gas. That wasn’t the case, however. I chugged off the first available exit and my truck simply quit. Thankfully I as was able to coast into a gas station. Well I didn’t quite make it- my truck was half in the gas station entrance, and halfway on the busy road leading in to the gas station.

I tried restarting the truck, and it was a no go. My son and I walked into the gas station and were handed a telephone book, from which we called a tow truck. Oh yeah no problem, be right there. And 10 minutes later, the friendly driver, was. He jumped the truck and we let it run for about 30 seconds before it quit again. He surmised it was the battery and suggested he haul us and the vehicle to an Auto Zone, which was a couple of miles away. I agreed.

On the way I had the unpleasant task of calling the ex-wife, and telling her I and her son were stranded in Fenton, and she need to drive an hour to come and pick him up. After cussing and name calling, she agreed to have her dad come and get him.

At Auto Zone we bought a new battery- thank God, I had a credit card on me, and had the clerk install it. The friendly store clerk said, let me run a check on your starter and alternator, while you’re here, to make sure they are ok. I said sure. The starter checked out, fine. Of course the battery was good. He had just installed a new one. But the alternator, showed severe voltage problems.

I said that was impossible. I had just had a new one put in just a few days ago. The friendly clerk said, guess what, “you got a bad one, dude. No way will you make it back to Clare County. You might make it 50 miles.”

In the meantime my son had discovered that his I-Pad was missing from the backseat. In his mind, someone had stolen it. I said that was impossible. We searched the car, but to no avail. The kid was right- the I-Pad was gone. His mother and grandpa arrived to pick him up. He was in tears, not because we were stranded, but because his I-Pad was gone. His mother laid in to me for round two. What a joke I was. I couldn’t get her son home safely and now his new $450 I-Pad was missing.

I had no choice at that point. I decided to venture back to Clare County. The ride was smooth through Flint. Things were going great as I did 80 through Saginaw. Maybe I was going to make it home after all. Positive thinking aside, my car began to sputter as I went down the north side of the Zilwaukee bridge. I pushed down on the accelerator one last time, and there was nothing. I coasted to a stop, barely off the inside lane of I-75.

For the second time in a day I was stranded. I flipped on my emergency lights and hoped and prayed no one would come barreling down the freeway and hit me. I called a local Clare County two truck operator and he said he’d send a truck immediately to pick me and my vehicle up.

I calculated I was about an hour from home, maybe a little longer for a tow truck. Time slowly passed. I sat in the truck with the emergency lights growing dimmer and dimmer. The weather outside had turned nasty. The roads were slick and the snow was coming down at a brisk clip.

The hour passed. The emergency hazard signal was now a flicker. The temperature inside the truck had dropped to about 20. It wasn’t a good situation. Where are you tow truck driver?

An hour and a half passed. I called the tow truck company. He’s on his way, they said, don’t worry. You don’t understand, I thought. I’m alongside I-75 and could get rear-ended at a moment’s notice. Finally after 2 hours, a tow truck came flying down the southbound lanes. It didn’t stop. It had missed me!

I thought I had given an accurate description as to where I was, but with the hazard signal now dead, I suppose it would be impossible for him, or anyone to see me. 15 minutes later he had turned around and I could see him heading towards me from my rearview mirror. Oops he went right by me, again.

At this point I had phone communication with him. He went up to the next exit, came southbound again to that next exit, and was on his way to rescue me finally.

What a nightmare! My son did get home safely sans I-Pad. The ex-wife, of course, called the Fenton tow truck driver and the Fenton police to report it stolen. As fate would have it, however, the I-Pad indeed, was in the backseat of the car. I finally made it home safely as well.

Maybe it wasn’t the fiscal cliff that dominated the news, but man, I felt like I was falling off my own cliff a few Sundays ago.

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