Niagara Falls and the Speaking, Nasty Universe Pt. 1

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a “Speaking universe,” one that tells you to stay in bed and avoid the day. Maybe it’s a cough and a dry throat at the start. Or maybe it’s an audiobook that won’t finish downloading.

Whatever or wherever “Signs” come from, well, this last Wednesday morning I ignored them all.

The plan was Niagara Falls. Megan and I would pack a lunch, hop in the car, and drive for an hour and a half to the State Park. Since we moved to Rochester, Niagara has been on our radar—mine especially, incessantly nagging at my curiosity to come visit.

“Stay in bed!” said the Universe. Instead, I threw a liquified shot of Emergen-C powder into my dry throat and headed out the door.

Highway 490, Revisited

About 30 minutes outside of Rochester we heard a funny noise below our car. It was just for a second. Like a… well… as if something fell out. But the car was handling great, and there were no warning signs. So we kept driving.

Five minutes later, that warning sign showed up. If any of you readers drive a Prius, then you’re aware of just how scary the big red exclamation point is. We took the first exit we could (paid a toll) and stopped at the nearest gas station for a gander.

We landed in a town called Batavia, and it was there that we learned we had a major oil leak. I knew this because I bought a fresh quart, emptied it into my car, to which my car—as if in protest—urinated it back onto the gas-station concrete.

Roadside ASSistance

Instead of an in-depth analysis, here’s a quick play-by-play of everything that went wrong soon after.

  1. After calling Allstate Roadside, the tow truck guy called me and said we were “Right around the corner,” from the Toyota dealer and that we could make it if we tried, and we’d save an hour.
  2. I disregarded my wife’s advice to wait, and had her plug in the Toyota dealership address into our GPS. Under five-minutes away.
  3. Megan accidentally chose South Main instead of West Main on the GPS.
  4. Five minutes later, we ended up on a country road, surrounded by large fields and spread-out houses. This was where our car finally jilted us to the side of the road and drove us no more.

I would LOVE to say that this is where the madness stopped. That, instead of another list of things that went wrong, the tow truck showed up and took us to the Toyota dealer in time to save the day. But… here’s another list:

  1. I called the tow-truck-guy back and told him we were stuck; we didn’t make it. He said he’d be right out.
  2. Ten minutes later I received a voicemail from someone else telling me my tow was cancelled. Five minutes later, I received a voicemail from Allstate telling me my tow was cancelled. My phone, also, wasn’t ringing.
  3. I called Allstate again. The first lady I talked to wasted ten minutes of my time, and told me I needed to talk to someone else. I talked to someone else. He was helpful. The tow truck was now two hours away.
  4. Three hours later, we called to check in. The man responded, “We’ve been trying to call you! We couldn’t get ahold of you, so we sent your tow somewhere else. It’ll be another hour.”

This is the point of the story where I’ll stop. It’s a great tale, and it gets better, but I wanted to highlight something I did at this moment, the moment where the tow-guy told me it’d be another hour.

I completely lost it. As they say, I saw red. You know that scene in Trains, Planes, and Automobiles where Steve Martin cusses out that lady, or in Six Days, Seven Nights when Harrison Ford walks into the giant bush and freaks-out? It was a weird combination of those.

I’m not proud of what happened. Sometimes you lose control; you get to that point where all the feelings you’ve been pushing down boil over and you…

My phone went flying; I do know that. I absolutely threw it like a baseball. My wallet went the other way and for no logical reason, I started kicking rocks and cussed every bad phrase my mind could utter. Megan hid in the car. Eventually, I collapsed on the side of the rode—like the car that brought us there—and it was there I remained for two hours more.


Part Two, coming soon.



  1. Kevin, I feel for you. I’m glad however this did not happen to you somewhere on your drive across the country. You might want to switch to AAA Plus – you don’t have to wait more than hour (they would have called another tow truck service I think – if the first guy was booked up) – worth checking into. By the way I have friends who used to live in Batavia – it’s a nice little town. When you finally get to Niagara Falls do go on the Maid of the MIst or the Cave of the Winds – but make it the last thing you do – you will get wet. If you have passports check out the Canadian side too. I do hope the car repairs (and phone?) don’t run too high.


    1. Thanks, Mary. We walked away from everything without too much damage to our wallets and even learned some lessons along the way (more on that in the next post). Batavia was actually a cool little town, bigger than what the highway reveals.

  2. I think some days are like that for all of us. I recently crashed my car and wasn’t going to have the money or credit for another vehicle, but my boyfriend has saved the day in repairing the one I have even though the mechanic said it couldn’t be done. We all loose it sometimes. Take care.

  3. Eesh! I’m sorry. I know what these moments feel like…and I’ve driven a Prius. Moreover, I’m loving sharing this experience with you guys. Cheers.

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