Loriville Gazette
2006 Mar 28 a bizarre sequence of events

Our Saturday night was straight out of hell. I'm still trying to recover (literally!), which is why I haven't been here until now.

Let's just say it was an evening of black comedy of one bizarre, incredible, unbelievable event after another.

I'm not sure it's possible to make this long story short so please bear with me.

It started by us deciding to go to Sacramento Friday night to see my grandparents from Idaho for a few hours before their train left on Saturday morning. I had actually rearranged my work schedule so that Isaac and I could do an extended visit with them Thursday through Saturday. Thursday morning, however, I woke up with horrendous flu symptoms (my second flu in 2 months... but that's a story for another time!). My body ached so badly and my throat/neck felt like it was on fire - I was crying and moaning. M told me that if I was going to continue the loud moaning through the evening, he'd have to sleep on the couch.

Anyway, it had been a year since I'd seen my grandma and about 3 years since I'd seen my grandpa. And Gramps had never even met Isaac! So, even though I was still feeling like complete and utter dirt on Friday night, M and I made arrangements to drive up to Sacramento for the evening so that we could spend 3 hours with my grandparents the next morning.

I was taking as many pain killers as I could as often as possible.

Friday night was pretty hellish in terms of sleep. Isaac doesn't do well sleeping anywhere other than in his crib in his own bedroom so we braced ourselves for a night of sleep deprivation. I didn't sleep much as it was, anyway, because of the flu.

Saturday I woke up dazed from 2 hours of sleep but had a nice, albeit way too short, visit with Gramps & Grams nonetheless. We all accompanied them to the train station and Isaac got a big kick out of seeing the trains.

After seeing them off on their train, we went back to my mom's house so that the deliriously tired Isaac could nap. While Isaac napped, we visited with my dad.

M and I decided that we just couldn't take another sleepless night so we packed up our stuff and headed out at 5 pm. In addition, I was developing laryngitis. In the end, I decided to drive because M was so fatigued and there was no way I'd be able to sleep in the car, anyway, because of the pain.

We had an uneventful drive... most of the way, at least. Around 6 pm my triple dose of Tylenol started to wear off. I was sooo looking forward to getting home and relaxing. In fact, M and I agreed that we wanted to have a relaxing mellow evening and then go to bed at 9:30.

Then in Albany, just 20 miles away from San Francisco, things started to get crazy.

We hit a heavy wall of traffic.

Several minutes later, in Berkeley, we started noticing steam coming out of my engine compartment. I was alarmed but then informed M that I did just have my oil changed 3 days prior (along with $900 in extra work) and maybe it was just residual oil hitting the hot engine?

The steam did not stop. In fact, it got worse. A driver in the car next to us rolled down his window and told us that we needed to get off the freeway at the next exit since it looked like we had a coolant leak.

We took the next exit and by the time we found a gas station the car was making strange gulping noises and I was freaking out.

The first (and only, as far as we could tell) gas station we found was in an industrial, scary part of town. M took a look under the hood but said water was spraying everywhere. He couldn't tell where the water was coming from because there was water everywhere.

We probably would have been able to drive the car home had the traffic not been so bad. As it was, though, there was absolutely no way we could drive it. It was 7 pm: Isaac's bedtime. I knew that the poop was going to hit the fan soon. We were 13 miles from home.

I should also note that I had to go to the bathroom really badly! The gas station didn't have a bathroom and I couldn't very well go searching for one by myself in that neighborhood.

We immediately called my insurance's roadside assistance program. Actually, M had to call since I was literally speechless by this point from the laryngitis. They said a tow truck was on the way. M told dispatch that we wanted the car towed home and wanted to check that the tow truck had enough room for all 3 of us. They said it didn't.

And they told us they couldn't tow it all the way home for us.

M got irate and was yelling at them for about 20 minutes while I tried to comfort an irritable Isaac in the back seat. Thank heavens we had some crackers in the trunk.

I told M I didn't want any hassles, I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible even if that meant paying out-of-pocket. He wouldn't have any of that, though, saying I'd been paying for this benefit on my insurance since I was 20 years old and that I should get what I paid for!

Bottom line: Insurance wouldn't budge, saying that my benefit included towing just the car (not necessarily passengers) to the nearest service station or home, if within 11 miles. M told them we wanted it towed home but that home is 13 miles away. They said that was fine but that we'd have to pay $10/mile over and above the 11 miles. We said fine.

M confirmed that the tow truck was still on the way. He also asked the insurance dispatcher to call a cab for us and got confirmation that the cab was on its way.

M and I discussed how we'd get home. If the cab and tow truck arrived around the same time, we'd all take the cab and have the tow truck follow us home. If the cab came first and wouldn't wait, we agreed that Isaac and I would take the cab home while M would wait with the car for the tow truck.

We waited and waited and waited. It was now 8:30. M called the cab company. They said the cab is on its way. M called insurance to get the status on the tow truck. They said it should arrive within 15 minutes.

The cab finally arrived at about 9. Insurance was then telling us that the tow truck may take up to 1 hour because of some CHP action on the Bay Bridge. My bladder was going to burst so the cab driver agreed to drive all 3 of us to a nearby Holiday Inn so that we could use a clean, safe bathroom.

I was delirious with pain and feeling like hell by this point. My throat was on fire and I was in desperate need of pain killer.

We then drove back to the car at the gas station. We got most of what Isaac needed out of the trunk and transferred it to the cab. M gave me some cash for the cab driver's tip, since I had a grand total of $4 in my purse. He whispered to me, "Give him a $20" because the cab driver is being so nice and accommodating. I left my cell phone with M so that he could continue communications with the insurance co.

We were down the street and heading to San Francisco before I realized that I had left my front door key on the car's key ring, which I had left with M! The cab driver was fortunately very understanding.

I got the key from M and then we turned around once again. The cab driver found everything humorous and said, "Wow, you guys really are tired, aren't you?" I then explained, in my raspy croaky painful voice, that neither of us had slept last night and that we hadn't eaten dinner, either. The cab driver suggested going through a drive-thru. I initially said no but he said, "But there's a KFC and a McDonald's right up here around the corner. Are you sure? You should get something for your husband at least." I was surprised! Being that he didn't mind going back to the gas station yet again, I said sure.

We went through the drive-thru and then drove the food back to M. M saw us and said in exasperation, "What now?!" He was pleasantly surprised when he saw the McDonald's bag. When I handed him the bag he whispered to me, "Make it $40."

So the taxi was off for good this time. I wanted to curl up into a ball but tried to make pleasant small talk, despite the painful forced voice, with the cab driver.

He wasn't a very observant driver. On the way back to San Francisco, he almost rear-ended a car twice and had to slam on his brakes, prompting a loud "Whoa!" from Isaac each time. I was not happy.

Finally, we made it home... at 10:30 pm! The total bill for the cab was $54.40 and I tipped him $40. Our cab driver (JT from Friendly Cab Co., by the way) was extremely surprised and grateful. I quickly put Isaac to bed without the normal fanfare of his usual bedtime routine then called M.

The news was not so good. The insurance company had promised a tow truck by 11 but it was now 5 minutes to 11. I told M that if it hadn't arrived by 11, he should call AAA. To hell with them.

M called me at midnight and asked what I needed from the trunk of the car. I was confused. He told me the tow truck had driven him to BART and was then going to store my car overnight. CHP was not letting any tow trucks cross the bridge so bringing the car home was out of the question.

M didn't arrive home until shortly after 1 am but I didn't know because I had fallen asleep waiting for him. At 1:30, the sound of the front doorbell woke me up. I heard M answer it, thinking it may be the tow truck driver in my dazed half-asleep state.

I went downstairs but didn't see M. I then went and looked out the front windows to see if I could see the tow truck. I didn't see anything so I went upstairs and got into bed.

That's when I heard strange voices and yelling outside. I heard the front door shut and M's footsteps coming up the stairs.

He said, "That was the cops. There's a deranged man in the back yard." He opened up the French doors that lead onto our roof deck and went outside. I followed. We watched the cops lead a handcuffed man out of our neighbor's back yard and into their house.

After going back inside, I asked M what was going on. He said he didn't really know. The cops knocked on our front door asking for access into our back yard because a deranged lunatic was using a cell phone from one of our back yards to call them and was saying crazy things. He said he'd have to get the full story from the neighbors later.

And with that, fatigued from utter exhaustion, we turned off the lights and went to sleep.

Truth really is stranger than fiction.

What I'm thankful for:
-That I didn't forget the key to the front door. Can you imagine how much of a nightmare that would have been?!
-That we had such a kind and patient cab driver. He made the entire shabby experience so much better than it could have been. Any other cab driver would have been making snide, condescending comments and wouldn't have wanted to make any pit stops.
-That Isaac was surprisingly well-behaved considering it was several hours past his bedtime and didn't get dinner other than some crackers and a few McDonald's French fries.

Epilogue: It is now Tuesday. I have been on antibiotics since yesterday for strep throat and ear infection. As of right now, I'm starting to feel a little better but I still have a disabling case of laryngitis. M had to make all the arrangements with the tow company regarding what to do about/where to take my car. He also had to rent a car on Sunday from the SF Int'l Airport.

It's absolutely absurd when you consider that we have 3 cars but none of them work, i.e. M's truck was totaled, M's car has been in the shop for the past 3 weeks getting some engine work, and my car obviously stranded us.

M picked up my repaired car today from Berkeley. Fortunately, all it was was a leaky hose.

Anyway, it's late. My throat is screaming and I need some hot tea before turning in for the night. Guten nacht!

back & forth

quick recap - 2007 July 13
Happy August! - 2006 Aug 01
I dream of Albuquerque - 2006 Jul 08
mindstorm - 2006 Jun 30
Pomegranate scale - 2006 Jun 24