This is a fast story from my days living in Raleigh, NC in 1999.
I was making one of the many trips from Raleigh to Chapel Hill to participate in a library consortium meeting. Now the thing about that is, for me, a commute of 5 miles seems like FOREVER…and when we moved to Raleigh, everyone spoke about Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill as if they were connected at the hip. So, being the naive person I was, I had no idea that a trip from Raleigh to Chapel Hill was over 30 miles. And if you know anything about me, it’s that I HATE DRIVING. I do – I’ve always hated driving, and I particularly hate driving long distances (and yes, the commute to Chapel Hill was, in my mind, a LONG DRIVE).
To make matters worse, the car I was stuck with at the time, a CURSED Pontiac Grand AM, seemed to be suffering from a debilitating case of leprosy. For no reason I could fathom, various things would randomly fall off the car…like the rear view mirror, a muffler, the door handle (OK, I seemed to have yanked that off in a George-the-Animal-Steel moment, but still – an entire door handle ripped off by an average sized 29 year old female???). I dreaded taking that car anyplace beyond our apartment and NC State University. The first time I did a dry run from Raleigh to Chapel Hill, on a Sunday, in the rain, my car died about 3/4 of the way there on I-40. And of course I was alone because I insisted on going by myself early in the morning before my husband had woken up. Luckily, I had my brick-sized cell phone with me that morning so I could call a pick-up truck (one of several as it turns out).
Fast forward a few months to the most recent (and thankfully last) trip to Chapel Hill where I was the driver. All went well on the way there but on the way home, after I dropped off one of my colleagues in Morrisville (a tiny town outside of Research Triangle Park) my car decided it was too far for it to manage and gave up the ghost. In the the middle of nowhere. At 5PM – and my husband was waiting for me at a campus bar to pick him up (as we only had one car at the time). I pulled out my trusty (but hated) cell phone and crap…it was dead. I was stuck. I was a bit panicky and possibly teary eyed. Well, definitely teary eyed. I hated where we were living, I was homesick and my job was stressful so having a complete breakdown by the side of the road on I-40 next to a forest was the most reasonable thing I could think to do.
Luckily, a stranger stopped (well, at first I was thinking Chainsaw Massacre, but the guy was really nice). He offered me the use of his cell phone to call AAA. I think I got the agent with a room temperature IQ of 76 – probably employed only because of nepotism. The conversation went something like this:
Agent: AAA can I help you?
Me: Yes, my car died and I need a tow truck.
Agent: Ok – what’s your location?
Me: A few miles outside of Morrisville, NC on I-40.
Agent: North Carolina? My records are indicating that this call is from Denver, CO
Me: No, I’m in North Carolina, but I’m borrowing a cell phone from a person that is from Colorado.
Agent: You’re not in Colorado?
Me: No, I’m stuck on I-40 outside Morrisville in North Carolina
Agent: Are you sure you’re not in Denver, Co? My records indicate that the phone is associated with Colorado.
Me (by this time I’m at my wit’s end): Do you really think I would mistake Colorado for North Carolina? I need a tow truck – I don’t care where you think I am – I am telling you I am on 1-40 by Morrisville in NORTH CAROLINA.
Agent: Well ok – are you sure it’s North Carolina?
Me: Can I speak to someone else? I can’t believe this is happening.
Agent: I’m sorry – yes, we will send out the tow truck.
Me: Thank you.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s pretty much all I can say for that experience. I should have told her I was in the STATE OF HELL (thank you Alice).
And that’s my story.