Niagara Falls and the Speaking, Nasty Universe Pt. 2

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.

(For part one, click here).


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.

What Happened

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

  1. Check for leaks after an oil-change. A lot of people probably do this, but hey, it’s never too late to learn.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.



photoYour thoughts?



  1. Your classic intro reminds me of the marvelously wonderful “Earthworm Jim” cartoons. (Know about dat?) Great perspective. (Is there no ‘Like’ button on your entries? I’ve not found one yet!)

    1. “Earthworm Jim”!!! Yes! I remember playing a video game of such. I think it was a TV show too, yes?

      As far as the “likes” go, I disabled them. I find that they confuse my non-wordpress readers. You can still “like” the post (at the top of the page in your WordPress border, I think), and I’ll get notified; it just wont show up on the post. All of that said, thanks for “liking” and commenting! 🙂

      1. Oh, thanks for the instruction. And, YES!, “Jim” is my favorite of all cartoons, and that’s big considering other great ones, which I’d better not mention ‘cuz I could go on and on and… (Yes, I’m a big kid.) I’m stoked that all of the E.J. episodes are now in a DVD collection for 20 bucks on Amazon! (head exploding) Cheers!

  2. Kevin,

    If the tow truck guy grew up in the area he actually has a western New York accent (influenced more by Canada than NY City). Upstate NY includes areas north of New York City and Long Island. Western New Yorkers never consider themselves part of upstate NY. I’m glad you didn’t cave into the other tow truck drivers anal stance. Please go back to the place where you had the oil change done and request they make the situation right (i.e.: reimburse you or at the very least offer a year’s worth of free oil changes) – the guy who worked on your Prius needs to know how to properly screw the cap back on so he doesn’t do this to someone else, and the company needs to accept responsibility for their mistakes. “Silence gives consent.” Plato

    The Falls…Did you get to Goat Island? That’s my favorite spot on the American side. Although the falls are not the tallest, they are something to see – located on the Niagara River (about a 1/2 mile wide), which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). What is rather mind boggling is the fact that Niagara Falls has moved back seven miles in 12,500 years (it was closer to Lake Ontario 12,500 years ago) and may be the fastest moving waterfalls in the world. It currently is eroding about 1 foot per year. At the current rate of erosion, all things considered, scientists speculate that perhaps 2,000 years from now the American Falls could dry up.

    My brother was a state parks police officer in the park and he and his fellow officers had to go out on the river and to the edge of the falls on a number of occasions to rescue people in boats or those just attempting suicide. Very dangerous work.

    I’m glad things worked out in the end and you got to see the falls. Did you go on the Maid of the Mist?


    1. Mary,

      I think you’re right. If anything, I’ll stop in and let them know. I drive right by their place every day (it’s just down the street), and if I never say anything, I’ll most likely regret it.

      As far as Niagara goes, we got soaked!!! We didn’t do the Maid of the Mist, but we did pay a dollar to go on the observation deck which also allows you to take the elevator down to the bottom. It was there where we stole a couple used plastic panchos out of the trash and made our way to the fall. Talk about unprepared, my shoes were drenched!

      I’m not positive about Goat Island, I’ll have to look that up. We walked over to the Horseshoe Falls, and then walked back and got in our car to go to the Canadian side. Interesting about your brother. Thanks for the info, we’ve been curious about some of the specifics of the Falls since we saw it.

  3. I’m with Mary. The oil change place should offer you some compensation for their mistake. Even if they don’t, though, I’d say you got some pretty major bang for less than $100. More than many sessions of marital therapy, which would cost a whole lot more.

  4. “5.Praising God in all situations is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe I’m getting there; I’m growing.”

    Truth. Thanks for sharing in your experience. Keep at it, Kevin!

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