When we last left our heroes, Kevin was cussing in a stranger’s driveway and angrily kicking rocks; Megan was hiding, due to embarrassment, from inside of their broken car.
About six hours we waited. Time slowed down, it seemed. We listened to podcasts; we took walks and explored the street; I peed in the bushes. There was one bright spot when a local, older couple offered us both Pepsi. They left though, and soon we were back in the car, having to pee again.
When 5pm struck, we knew the same-day-Toyota-service-possibility went out the window, so we called around for rental vehicles and prayed for a way home.
Enterprise had one left, an SUV, of course, for $108 a day. There was another place in town, a local shop. They charged only $35 a day with three cars left. The caveat? Well, they closed at 5:30pm.
The last we heard, the tow was coming at 5:09pm.
After six hours of sitting in a black car on a hot day—hating and focusing on everything that went wrong and everybody, including ourselves, who let us down—5:15pm struck, and all of a sudden two tow-trucks slowed down and parked next to our broken Prius.
Two tow-trucks at the same time—it was amazing, like something out of the books. Our luck, if even for a second, was finally turning around.
The first guy approached with a look of horror. He was the one we first talked to, who said we could make it to Toyota if we tried. His name was Dan.
“I am SO sorry,” said Dan, “I didn’t know you guys were still here! Your call was cancelled twice; I thought someone gotcha!” His thick Upstate accent broke a smile on my face for the first time in hours.
After nearly hugging the stranger, Megan and I shook our heads and explained the situation. That we had to get across town by 5:30 for a rental car. Dan nodded, “I’ll take you to the rental place, this guy,” pointing at the other tow truck, “can take your car. Hop in!”
But Allstate made another error. They told the tow company to take our car to somewhere which was not Toyota, some garage. According to Dan, the garage was across the street from Toyota, but unfortunately for us, the other guy—the second tow—refused to take our car anywhere that wasn’t on the order-slip.
“It’s just right across the street!” I yelled, time ticking.
“Just call Allstate and then I can take it,” the man responded.
“We don’t have time,” I yelled, probably a little too loudly, “our car rental closes in ten minutes!”
“Just call Allstate—”
“It’s right across the street!” yelled Dan, my emerging, local hero. “Never mind,” Dan said, “I’ll take you to the car rental, and come back and get your car.”
I snatched my keys out of the hands of the other tow guy and jumped into Dan’s truck. He sped across town, as fast as I’ve ever seen a tow truck drive, dangerously swerving through business parking lots to dodge red lights, apologizing the whole way.
At 5:27pm he pulled into the rental car lot. Three minutes later, we drove away in a rented vehicle.
I tossed and turned all night, thinking about our car, how it was majorly wrecked. The next day the call finally came. “Well, the drain plug fell out.” We had an oil-change three days prior; the Toyota mechanic gave us his professional opinion: “It just wasn’t tightened enough.”
We can take our receipts back to where we had the oil change, I guess. After everything, not including our time and stress, the damage to our wallets was just under $100, just enough to forget about it and move on. We’ll see.
5 Lessons from a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day
- Check for leaks after an oil-change. A lot of people probably do this, but hey, it’s never too late to learn.
- After a major freak-out/childish tantrum, ask for forgiveness from those around you and repeat it never again. There are better ways to deal with stress and frustration.
- Look for the positives. I’m actually pretty good about this. I can see them; I just don’t focus on them. What were the positives? Safe neighborhood, no rain, had snacks.
- Forgive others for their bad decisions. My wife put in the wrong GPS location, but it was my fault for moving the car in the first place. No body wins the blame game.
- Praising God in all situations is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe I’m getting there; I’m growing. The day was a test of character, for sure, for both of us. I probably failed, but that’s okay. There’s always tomorrow, and I can carry the experience of failing with me.
Oh yeah, we made it to Niagara Falls. The next day. I guess, after everything, it could’ve been worse. Megan and I are closer because of it. Also, witnessing a giant body of water endlessly pour itself over a massive cliff, as if for all eternity, put things into perspective.
I’m thankful for that.