Monday, December 24, 2007

Brooklyn to Blakeslee

My best friend from high school came to New York for the first time ever in her life, just to visit me and see my life there. I can’t even really tell you how excited I was, given that I so rarely get to see her, and certainly never in “my” stomping grounds. We had a good time, she had her 24 hours of the city, and it was time to go home. All was well, except that her temperature gauge was above the "Normal" zone, up on the hot zone (I'm talking about her car). We make it a good portion of the way home, then decide to stop and put in some oil and antifreeze. Get back on the highway only to find that not only is it now pegged straight in the big bad red zone, the CHECK ENGINE light is on. And we aren't getting heat in the car. And then there is the tapping noise. Special. I THOUGHT THAT THE ANTIFREEZE AND OIL WERE SUPPOSED TO HELP, NOT MAKE IT WORSE.

So Carissa calls her husband to try to talk through the problem. Given that we are now in the middle of nowheresville on the highway, I suggest that it wouldn't be such a great idea to pull over, given that the pitch blackness won't be very conducive to fixing anything. If we can just make it to the next exit... Well, right about then the car decides it is time to die. A smoky and smelly death to automobile heaven (or hell??). On the side of Interstate 80. In the Poconos. In the pitch black of night. 70 miles from home. Let's just discuss for 3 seconds how awesome that combination of factors is.
Goal #1- Remain calm.
Goal #2- Keep Carissa from freakin out.
Goal #3- Think of a solution.
I manage to keep Goal #1, but most everything else is quickly deteriorating. What happens in the movies when two young women are stranded along the side of the road at night? Fire? Scary men in big-rigs? Stuff blowing up? Bears emerging from the woods to feast on us? Nothing good, that's for darn sure.
Ok, Carissa, do you have AAA? No? Ok. I don't have a car, soooo I certainly don't. Maybe my dad does. Maybe by some weird osmosis the fact that I'm the daughter of a AAA member, and you're my friend... No, not gonna happen. OK... think.

Just then a car pulls up behind us. Oh no, it really is like in the movies... some scary man with a knife is going to kill us. That will put a damper on the weekend. Maybe I can bargain with him. It is the Christmas season afterall... Then flashing red and blue lights. Ok, definitely a policeman and not a scary man. Phew.

Introducing Rich, our friendly Blakeslee police office, come to investigate the scene.

Carissa is on the phone with her husband, I am in the passenger seat trying to talk through potential options with the cop. Long-distance tow? He thinks it'll be $2-3 per mile. Hmmm. The math on that one isn't so appealing, but it will also get us AND the car AND all our stuff home... A short-distance tow up to the next exit plus storage in the garage there is $75 plus $30/day. Also not so appealing, as it means we're still here. And as fun as a night in Blakeslee sounds... Leaving the car here on the side of the road? Well, that's all well and good until there's a snow storm and they tow it anyhow. Hmmm.

We try to fix the car (and by we I mean Carissa as Copper Rich and I stand in the foot of snow off the road) with no success. It won't turn over. It's pretty much deadzo. Meanwhile, Rich looks at me as I put on my scarf and says, "Man, I never understood why people wear scarves." I respond, "Well, I'm pretty sure it's because it's cold outside. In fact, how about you walk around the streets of NYC in the dead of winter, and then let's see if you still wonder about the utility of scarves." Yes, I said that to the cop. Maybe not quite in those words. This first picture is indicative of the whole night- really dark and kind of blurry, with a hint of light that may or may not be useful. You can just about make out Cop Rich on the left:

We decide the long-distance tow might be a reasonable option. Until Cop Rich (oh the irony of his name right in this moment...) comes back and informs us he was wrong about the price. It's actually "4 big ones," as he phrases it. $400???? I could fly to Germany for that much. Can you get a quote from someone else??? Let ME get on the phone with them and see what kind of price we get...

Ok, new plan. We're leaving the car here and having someone come out and get us. Carissa is dead set on literally sitting inside the car until her grandparents get there. I use all my persuasive powers to convince her that the heated police station might be a better place to stay for 2 hours rather than the cold dark car along the highway. So, we hop into the police car. I don't really know how many of you have ever been in the back of a police car. It's not exactly the roomiest of places. Our options were to have the "cage" (the big thick glass between the back seat and the front seat) down and thereby not feel like criminals BUT have approximately zilcho leg room. Or have the cage up and feel like criminals. We opted for no leg room. I said I had to take my Miggity Mac with me. It was NOT staying up there on the mountain. My old dead computer tower could stay in the car. Not the laptop. This is inside the cop car:
So, we roll up to the Blakeslee police station. In style. We make friends. We explore our surroundings. We decide we are hungry. But first we discover a small basket of children's books. Including one entitled "The Police Car." What, so when little Bobby comes to visit his daddy in the clink, he can read about how his dad was transported there? That's just cruel.

So Rich the Cop drives us to the Wawa up the road. Let's just talk about the look on people's faces when two (relatively) normal looking girls get out of a cop car to go into the Wawa and the cop drives away. Well, then we realize that there are no tables in the Wawa. And the police station is at least a mile back the road. So, we get our sandwiches. And begin the journey back. Did I mention that my debit card is rejected for the purchase of a $6.03 sandwich and gatorade? There goes my last $6 in cash.

Then we have another one of those moments where I envision scenes out of movies where two otherwise intelligent girls decide it would be a good idea to walk by themselves along a dark and twisty road in the middle of the night. Cue scary music and ominous forrest sounds. Brilliant.

Back in the safety of the police station, we eat our Wawa subs, rock out to some Justin Timberlake (thank goodness I brought my Mac back), and wait for her grandparents to arrive. I do everything in my power to keep Carissa from thinking about her car sitting in the dark on the mountain, dead to the world. Must. Not. Think. Nor think about the fact that I'm missing my brother's 22nd birthday dinner. Oh, and did I mention that all of our friends are having a party tonight? Yea. I think the cops are pretty well convinced we're crazy once we start doing Yoga to keep ourselves calm.

At long last, Carissa's grandparents arrive to take us home. We trek back out to the highway to find the car (mile marker 286.1, in case you're ever in the area) and load all of our stuff from it into our new (and functioning) ride. Carissa and her grandfather make one last ditch effort to try to figure out what's wrong with the car. Yep, dead.

And merely 9 hours after we leave Brooklyn, with our pitstop in Blakeslee, we arrive back in central PA. Safe and sound. And for the most part in one piece.

Just another day in my crazy crazy life. Really, I just have to laugh, because what are my other options? Crying? Angry rants? No, I think we'll file this one away in the same chapter of my eventual life story with the one about my 22 hours in a NY ER. I am fairly certain that Carissa is probably so traumatized that she will never ever be coming back to NYC again. Ever.

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