Annual Christmas Breakdown

// December 18th, 2005 // archive

Lisa and I had quite a day yesterday. The day started off quite well, actually. We were able to sit and eat breakfast before church (rare for us). It wasn’t long, but we both laughed about enjoying the 2 minutes of quiet time before church.

Then we got to church early and got to talk with some friends before starting and again afterwards. Usually we are running in with barely enough time.

We were able to have a good lunch and get home to change for the annual party on my Dad’s side. In fact, Lisa took the time to hang our Christmas lights in front of the house. Again, it’s been the best day already.

We left a little late for the party, but we were confident that we’d be OK because nothing ever starts on time with my family. In fact, we’re usually the first ones there.

Before I continue, I should say that we had car problems last year at this same place, at the same time of year going to the same party. Next year we are taking a cab.

It is here that our day starts getting ugly. I’m on the highway going at a good clip when I see the battery light go on and suddenly it’s VERY hard to steer and our heat goes out. I think we had a conversation along the lines of, Lisa: “You were thinking about car trouble weren’t you? You were thinking about last year?!” Dan: “Yes, I was! It’s still not my fault!”

Luckily we were on the tail end of the turn and I was able to get us off the highway and into the parking lot of the party. In fact, the only snag was not being able to steer into the lot right away, getting honked at in the process (but not rear-ended). I even managed to get the car turned into a spot closeby.

My Dad was able to figure out the problem without even looking at the car. He and my uncle came out, looked under the hood and pulled out the broken fan belt.

Now I call for service (we have AAA). I’m distraught, I’m hungry and I’m stressed. After a few calls back and forth, I work out that we can tow it to a place nearby for free or pay extra to get it towed to a place in Riverside, where we live. I opt to pay the difference (not much).

Cheerfully, the AAA rep tells me that I could upgrade to the “plus” package, which allows you a tow within 100 miles for free. That’s even cheaper than paying the difference in the tow. I’m just about to say. “Yes.” When she tells me that if I sign up for this, I wouldn’t be able to use it for 3 days. I tell her, laughing through gritted teeth, that we need the car fixed now. I take a confirmation number (which Lisa writes on her hand) so that I can call back later when we are ready to be picked up.

At that point, it was 5:00. I probably should have called immediately. Instead I thought I’d enjoy the party. Haha. There are more kids running around at this party than I remember and a few of them want my attention immediately. Nicholas, my nephew is finding it hysterical to put his head up the back of my sweater.

In spite of the fact that I’m thinking about the car, I manage to eat something and talk to most of my family. By this time, most of them know that we have car trouble (again). In fact, most of our conversations at this party start with, “So I hear you broke a fan belt.” Since most of my family conversations usually start with, “Are you working yet?” this is actually a more positive spin on things.

Then at around 6:30, I decide to place the call. They tell me that the towing place will be there by 8:00, most likely sooner.

So I spend the next hour with my cell phone clutched in my hand, hoping it will ring. My cell phone is also kind of low on power, so I’m a little anxious. Lisa tells me to stop checking it so that I can conserve the power I have left.

At around 7:45, I get a call from AAA telling me that the towing place has been called and that they are on their way. They tell me that they should be there by 8:45.

We end up saying goodbye to my entire family. We are the last ones in the party room. In fact, we have to wait inside the bar area, where there’s a Bears game on. (If there’s one thing I dislike more than cars and winter, it might be football). Most of my family have left because they have kids. The ones who don’t have kids have left to go home to watch the Bears game. My Dad, in fact, was AT the Bears game. I’m sure that alcohol must be the only thing keeping people in the stands warm, because I’m by the door of a bar watching for a tow truck and I’m freezing.

I get a few calls from my family on my phone asking me if the tow truck has arrived yet. Furthermore, I get a few cell phone numbers from family to call in case we are left here. Luckily we have a piece of paper to write this information on, since we are running out of space on our hands to write any more numbers.

Finally at about 8:50 pm, I get a call. It’s AAA, telling us that the tow truck is there. (He’s in the wrong parking lot and he didn’t have our cell phone numbers).

We finally get things straightened out and the tow truck guy puts our car on his flat bed truck. I am both amazed and fearful of this process. I know that people must do this thing all the time, but I just don’t want to know about it. Our car is secured by some chain (and who knows what else) and we squeeze into the cab of the tow truck. Between us we have a plastic tub of cookies, and a Peanuts coloring book with a bunch of cell phone numbers written on it.

I don’t remember much of the flight home. I was gripping the dashboard in mortal fear. Our driver weaved in and out of traffic with our only car secured to the back of his truck. I knew that we had to make it through this because we had to live to tell others about it. The moments that I had my eyes open, I had my eyes affixed to the road and the rear-view mirror to make sure our car was still there (not that I could have done anything but scream if something had occurred).

Again, I know that people do this sort of thing all the time. But I don’t want to be part of it, nor do I want to be on the road with them while it happens. Had we strapped a rocket to our car, pointed it at Riverside and launched it, I don’t think we could have made it home any faster.

We made it home in one piece, with our car outside of the Riverside Garage. I’m still waiting for a call on my (fully charged) phone to find out when our car will be ready.

I also feel that we are lucky in this situation (again) because it could have been so much worse. We made it off the highway to the party with only one irate driver behind me. I think that’s pretty good odds, especially the way I drive.

So that was our day yesterday. I’m going to spend most of today drinking hot liquids, setting my desk on fire and glancing at my cell phone to see if our garage called. Maybe I’ll even get some work done.

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