Well, folks, tonight's commute home was a bit of a doozy.
I was even gonna stop and cut my hair on the way home. So I went to turn onto Peachtree and got stuck behind some BMW adorned with Tri-Delt stickers who apparently was unclear on the whole "right on red" thing. Loads of opportunities, she passed them all up. When the light turned green she apparently was unclear on the whole "green means go" thing as well. So I busted a move around her.
Something didn't feel quite right with Ol' Red.
Then on came a little light. It was shaped like a little engine. That can't be good. A hundred yards later or so the rest of the little lights came on. It was like Christmas on the dash! On Dasher, I shouted! Mush, mush! Gooooo! Not really, but in hindsight that would have been funny.
Then she died.
It was only by some miracle I was able to get from the left lane across three lanes of SUV's to the shoulder purely on borrowed momentum, without power steering and without getting hit. Without even thinking, I even opened the door and pushed with my foot to get the little Jetta out of the roadway and coast her to a stop. Right in the driveway of the Grand Hyatt.
This was gonna be real fun. Limos, town cars, rich guys. They all slowed for a gander. Take a look at the guy in the '96 Jetta!!!! But wait, is that the Santa Monica edition?
Straight up it is.
I called AAA who then called a tow-truck. 90 minutes earliest, they say. A guy stopped and suggested it was the timing belt. A girl in a white BMW pulled over to ask if needed a ride. I didn't know what to make of that. Honestly, I was like "what in the world would drive a cute girl in a BMW to pull over and offer me a ride." Maybe the south is actually friendly. Or maybe it was just me. Who knows.
Then Calvin pulled over.
Now, Calvin's an older black gentlemen, an ex-Marine and a mechanic who immediately is waaaaay too helpful. He asks me to pop the hood as he searches his truck for a flashlight. It takes forever and he comes up empty. Yet he finds a little penlight and takes a look under the hood. "That's your timing belt, alright," he says. And he offers to fix it. "Tow it to your place, I'll go buy the part and meet you there. $150. They'll charge you $250 at the shop." Too good to be true? A kindly gent pulls over and saves the day? An angel? God I wanted to believe him!
But I was thinking the same thing.
He recites the AutoZone number from memory (good sign) and so I call them and it turns out a timing belt is only $16 so he says give me $20 and we exchange phone numbers. He then tells me his number and admits it's an Econo Lodge up on 285. He offers an "extension 370" but then admits, "weell, that's my room number." I suppose "extension does have an exective ring to it. And perhaps your assistant ir Esmerelda who works the night shift at the front desk? But I digress. Then despite having grown up here in Atlanta isn't sure where North meets Piedmont. That seems odd. Two major streets, no? the pieces weren't adding up. Even his smokescreen story about things having changed since he grew up here. I mean, it's not like they pick up and move whole streets. The city just gets taller and wider.
The red flags are going off. But God I wanted to trust him!
So I tell him, "Dude, Ol' Red is my ride. She's never let me down. I think I'm gonna put my trust in the good folks at AAA and who they recommend." He sticks around for like another half hour chatting while I say I think I'm gonna go pro on this one. He finally gives in and drives off. For a drink at Johnny's Hideway. Where he was gonna go anyway for a drink before coming over to fix it. He had to meet a lady friend.
Then Justin calls. Apparently a friend of his old girlfriend's saw me and called him. No doubt countless other co-workers saw me too. Justin doubles back from the gym to check on me. I say I'm fine, the tow truck comes.
Meanwhile I shoud mention Mom and Dad are in Austin scouring the internet for a VW repair place. They find one not too far from my place.
The tow truck guys load it up and we get in the cab. Me in the middle. Two funnier black dudes you'll not meet. The dude in the passenger seat talked non-stop about women with a particular fascination with a certain part of them of which he "needed to get some of. Baaaaad." It was pretty funny. We eventually dropped off the ride and I walked the mile or so home.
Total time? 3:56 minutes.
The place didn't have a key drop so I left a note on the dash urging any would-be midtown tow trucks not to tow her. I gotta jog up there first thing in the AM and give them the key. Hopefully they can do it or we're screwed. In three-and-a-half years Ol' Red hasn't given me a day's trouble so I hope she's ok. I really don't wanna buy a car. Truthfully, I don't even want one at all.
So I'm taking the train in to work tomorrow. Perhaps this is the start of the Carless in ATL chapter?
I'll take pictures.