Friday, August 2, 2013

The day started out so well . . .

Update:  The car has met its true death and is now well and truly dead.  We are 330 miles from home with no car.

Yesterday we decided to visit the new first choice college which meant a 3 hour drive down to Melbourne.  On the way home, the car died in Jacksonville.  And I really do mean it just died.  One minute we were in the fast lane on I95 going well over the posted speed limit in the middle of rush hour traffic and the next minute Steve was saying "the car just died - I have no power - the engine shut off".  Fortunately, we were going downhill and were able to coast over to the 'side' of the road.  I say side because we were out of traffic but not off the highway.  We ended up in a striped off area between the regular fast lanes and an on ramp but there were three more lanes of traffic to the right of the on ramp because this was an area where a couple of highways were merging.  It was a scary place to be and we (Steve, both girls and both dogs) were completely stuck. 

So I call triple a and, tho it was far more difficult than it should have been, I thought I arranged a tow truck and was careful to let them know that tho I was not in the way of moving traffic I did not consider myself safe given the narrow dead lane I was in and the fact that I was just over the rise on a hill.  Sadly, they did not relay info to the tow company accurately.  Aaa told the tow truck I was on 95 southbound when I was heading north, that I was in the path of traffic and did not relay how impossible it would be for two of the people and both dogs to wait while the tow truck took two people and the car away.  

That's when the calls started - insurance, rental, triple a, acura dealer, more rental, more acura, insurance again.  In the morning on the way down I had been charging my phone but before it was charged, Steffie said hers was dead so I gave her the charger and turned location services on on mine (huge battery drain) to use it as a GPS.  On the way back mind had dropped to less than 40% so I asked for the charger back (3rd time) and Maddie was using it - right up to when the car died and my phone was down to 24% and I needed to use it.  But both girls had fully charged phones.

The tow truck company calls and says we can only fit two people in the cab of any of our trucks and no dogs.  Triple a knew that and should have told you. So Steve calls the Acura dealer to make sure someone will still be there when we get there and see if they have a loaner or rental for us and have them send someone to get some of us.  No, no, and no.  He also spoke with enterprise rent a car and, since by now it was 5:58, they said we were out of luck because they were closing at 6.  The car died shortly after five.  

Sometime after we stalled there a cop pulled his car behind us and turned on his lights.  He called the Acura dealer and suggested that they send someone to get us and was told they would.  Then the service manager called Steve back and said No, they would not.  The cop was not happy.  I called triple a and said I cannot get thru to the rental place you keep connecting me to, you didn't tell me the tow people couldn't get us all off this sea of highway and I need you to fix this NOW.  So that woman (the fourth or fifth by now) says she is going to call a cab and will call me back.  Meanwhile Steve (and the girls) are trying to call State Farm about coverage and Hertz about rental cars and time is passing.  During all this the tow truck shows up.

The cop comes over with the tow truck driver who could not tow the car with the truck he had because the car is 4 wheel drive.  This truck came to move the car out of the way of traffic because triple a said that was where it was.  The cop says he has a solution to the getting us off the highway and when I tell him triple a is getting a cab he says call them back & tell them not to bother.  I did not need to because they called me to tell me they couldn't get me a cab.

The tow company sent two trucks.  The first to get there was just to move the car out of traffic but was also to carry me and the girls off the highway.  The second was a flatbed for the car, Steve and the dogs who, much to their terror, had to ride in the car on the flat bed.  While we were waiting for the second truck, the first driver asked what happened and said it was probably the alternator and his shop had mechanics.  This prompted by my saying I did not really want to give a penny to the dealer after they had been so unpleasant and unhelpful.  I told the driver to take the car to his shop.  

At 6:45 we finally headed off the interstate and on the drive back to the tow shop Maddie finally got hold of a human being at National rent a car and reserved us a car at the airport.  We still needed a way to get from the shop to the airport with 4 people and 2 dogs and all the stuff that we needed to take out of the car which is a fair amount with the girls. The way-beyond-nice folks at Sprint Towing put us, our stuff, and the dogs in a car and drove us to the airport where we could pick up a car.  The lady  waited with the girls and dogs safely in the car while Steve and I arranged for the car and found it.  At 8:00 we were finally back on our way home.  The family that owns Sprint are now our heros.

The only problems now are a dead car and a rental that we hate - mostly because it isn't our car or one we would have ever picked. Oh and we are going to have to go back to Jacksonville to first get the car and then return the rental to the airport.

But, even tho our three hour drive turned into six, we are off that highway and safe.


P.S.  I think we should get the pink car for Maddie.

Sent from my iPhone


Jane McLellan said...

Oh dear me. I'm glad you're safe and were sorted out eventually. What a nightmare.

Kathy Niklewicz said...

WOW! Makes our little flat tire incident on the turnpike in 2010 seem like a walk in the park. Plenty of room to wait off the side of the road, but no GPS to tell AAA our location (and no car adapter for phone, which was almost out of juice.) However all ended well with being put on flatbed (the two of us in the cab) and driven 70 miles home. It was getting dark, though.

My goodness, what a difficult situation! I'm amazed the police couldn't get immediate
action! Makes me afraid to get on the road now, as 'senior citizens' with reduced abilities to handle fast-paced traffic situations. I can't believe the car dealer! So glad you're safe!

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

That little adventure sounds way too exciting for me! I don't like highway driving to begin with, so I'm pretty sure I'd be completely traumatized after a day like yours. I'm glad everyone is safe!