Utter Exhaustion Sets In (The Road Trip From Hell) Pt. 1
Ok. So I lied. I promised I’d be better about responding to emails, etc., and I haven’t really been very good about it. But I really have been very busy. Two weekends of my life were spent helping my sister move out of her old apartment (here) and into her new one in Connecticut. She came home for a week and we hung out, etc. Then this past weekend we helped her move into her new place. Let’s just say everything pretty much went to shit from the very beginning of this doomed road trip.
First, early on Saturday morning, (and friggin’ early for a Sat. morning), the day we were heading out for CT, my grandmother calls at 9. I’d gone to sleep pretty late the night before and never get enough sleep during the week so weekend mornings are almost sacred to me. Needless to say, I was pretty unhappy about being woken up, especially when the phone call wasn’t even for me but for my sister.
I’m secretly worried about my grandmother, she’s acting like she thinks she’s gonna die soon, calling solely for the purpose of making my sister promise to come home and visit often and not to forget about her grandmother. Let’s see, we have only one living grandparent so I don’t think it’s possible for us to forget about her. Granted, she’s almost 80 years old, but she still pretty much has all her faculties intact and is still able to more or less take care of herself. She even grows her own little garden. I always thought/hoped she’d be around to meet my children. Wouldn’t that be grand? Not so sure if that’s possible though, seeing as how I’m probably not going to have kids until later, rather than sooner. And of course, I’d like to be married before I start having kids. And have settled into a career before getting married. Anyway, this may not seem like a big deal but my grandmother rarely calls our house, and more importantly, rarely calls when she knows my mom isn’t gonna be there.
I managed to go back to sleep but an hour or so later my sister comes in and tries to wake me up. I resisted, still half-asleep. Finally she springs her cat on me (who is, in fact, very sweet and gentle) and there’s nothing like a creature running across your stomach to wake you the hell up. My sister also pointed out to me that I could sleep during the car ride (lord knows there really wouldn’t be much else to do- enjoy the luscious gravel scenery of the highway?). Little did we know how wrong she’d be.
It’s funny how afterwards it’s so easy to pinpoint all the little ironic things or things that should have been taken as a sign of something to come. One big thing was my sister saying that I shouldn’t go with them because there was barely enough room in the minivan as it was (even with things tied to the roof there was hardly enough room for everyone to sit). I really should’ve just stayed home.
Anyway, my parents came home a bit later in the afternoon than planned but we still managed to hit the road by 4:00. It was weird but even though my mom had made one of my favorite spicy dishes for lunch, I didn’t feel very hungry and had to force myself to down it. Which is pretty unusual for me since I’m almost always up for eating something. It’s like I knew in my bones something was gonna happen.
So we’re driving, driving, driving, I’m trying to fall asleep but it’s hard b/c I’m tired and groggy but not quite enough to sleep. Also, I’m in a slightly uncomfortable position since the cat’s carrier box was in front of my legs and my sister and all her crap were on the other side of me, not leaving much room for me to stretch out. From the start, the cat was frantic to get out of his carrier, sticking his paws out, meowing pitifully and loudly. I swear it sounded like a baby crying or something. We felt bad for him but there was no way we could let him loose in the car (cat’s name is Homer by the way- named for the Greek poet, not Homer Simpson), we could easily lose him in all the little spaces created by the pile of luggage or he could distract my dad from concentrating on the road. We hoped he’d calm down and shut up, but his meowing kept getting louder and more insistent.
About an hour and a half into the projected 5-hour trip, we knew why. My sister had touched Homer’s paw at one point and realizing it was wet, connected the dots. Homer had peed in his box. We stopped at the nearest rest stop, put the little bugger on his leash (yes cats have leashes too) and helped my sister wash out the carrier and wash off the cat who was thrilled to be out of his box and out of the car. That came to an end soon enough since my dad wanted to be on our way.
About an hour later I suddenly smell something awful. Like rotten eggs but worse. Much worse. If ever there was an atomic fart, this was it. I hold my nose, glancing over at my sister, hoping it was her but knowing in my heart of hearts that the cat had once again soiled himself in his carrier. He’d done the same frantic dance to get out, the same meowing, but of course we’d ignored him because for one thing, there aren’t frequent rest stops along the freeway and for another, he’d just gone to the bathroom before. I could’ve sworn he’d pooped based on that horrible smell but turned out to just be pee. Again. Still dunno what the hell that smell was but apparently cats fart so maybe it was that.
So this wasn’t a particularly spectacular start to our road trip but honestly, if that’s the worse it had gotten I’d have been pretty damn happy. At the second rest stop (same deal with washing the cat and the carrier), as we were driving out onto the highway again, the minivan made its usual funny noise (the car jerks for a few seconds than drives normally) but this time it’s much worse than usual, with the car literally sputtering and sounding like it’s gasping for air or something. Finally it starts running, albeit, we’re driving slower than normal. We pass through a tollbooth right on the border of New Jersey and New York (though my parents were confused because there hadn’t been a previous ticket booth or we’d somehow missed it) and then I smell something funny. My sister looks at me and asks me what that smell is. I think she was hoping I had farted or something. No such luck. We both look at the carrier and groan. Damn cat and his bladder problems. Then a second later we see ominous clouds of black smoke pouring out from the hood of the car. Oh. Shit. That’s what the smell was. I joked to my sister later that I’d much rather have preferred cat poop to the car breaking down. There are few instances where you’d wish for something like cat poop, but this was definitely one of them.
We literally shudder to a stop about a stone’s throw from the tollbooth we’d just passed through. Cars are whizzing by dangerously close to our car, which is pretty much in the middle of the interstate- and probably one of the busiest interstates too. Dark clouds of smoke are emitting profusely from the hood of the car and we just sit there, stunned. I think pretty much anyone’s worst nightmare is having their car break down during a road trip. Such a nightmare, luckily for us, had come true.
We were about a state and a half away from home and another state away from our destination- New Haven, CT. Since this had never happened to us before we just sit there, unsure of our next move. My dad had looked under the hood but there wasn’t anything we could do. Soon some highway patrol truck guy comes, no doubt alerted to our dangerous position by the tollbooth attendant, and sort of dragged us over to the shoulder of the highway and into safety. There he advised us, through his mega speaker, to call for a tow truck. Then he drove off.
We were wondering how to get the number for a tow truck when, luckily, we see a tow truck guy waving us over, offering to tow us (for a fee, of course) to a garage. Once we got there, he examined the car, fingering the dead transmission as the culprit for all our problems. This was something that would take a few days to repair, not a few hours as we’d hoped. We had few options- either stay at a local hotel and wait for the car to be fixed, or be towed back home or up to Connecticut. We chose the latter option, it being the only one that made sense really- we still needed to get up to New Haven and at least there, we could stay at my sister’s apartment as originally planned. We all had to go back to work Monday so waiting for the car to be fixed wasn’t really an option.
So yeah, we ended up being towed the rest of the way to CT. My sister and I rode in the truck with the guy (I was in the middle as always) while my parents rode in the minivan, which yes, if you’re wondering is technically illegal or something but cabbing it up to New Haven would have been way too expensive. At that point it was around 8 or 9. I was exhausted, sleepy, hungry (the last time we’d eaten had been about 7 hours ago) and needed to go to the bathroom. Unlike Homer, however, I could hold it. About 2 hours later we finally reach my sister’s “apartment” (which is really just the bottom floor of a small house) in New Haven.
Here we endeth Pt. 1 of The Roadtrip From Hell.
TO BE CONTINUED…(in the next entry).