Some days should never happen, like those days fate conspires to reek havoc with your plans. Enter May 5, 2018. I was on my way to a Volunteer Recognition Luncheon for the Palm Springs Writers Guild. From there I would go to the Guild’s monthly meeting where I was on the agenda to give awards to three contest winners, and do a reading of a winning memoir piece of 3500 words. The Guild was also recognizing high school essay winners and the Guild”s Monthly story winner. I was running early, ready for a leisurely drive to a nice event.
About five miles from home on this so-called relaxed drive, a red light appeared on the dash of my Jeep – not the Tire Pressure Monitoring system, not the Seatbelt Reminder Light, not the Oil Pressure Warning Light, but the Engine Temperature Warning Light. My heart stopped, well almost. I’d once continued driving a vehicle while its red dash light warned me the car was overheating, thinking I could get to a gas station. I did major damage to the engine.
I pulled over immediately, close to an intersection and in the bicycle lane. After rummaging through my purse, I found my wallet and dug out the AAA card. Hallelujah.
I grabbed my cell and placed the call. A female voice and I connected. The first thing the voice asked was, “Are you safe?” I told her I was. Fortunately, I hadn’t stalled in the middle of the road or something worse. I didn’t add, that although I was safe, I was ticked and uncomfortable and hungry, anticipating lunch. Ah, poor me.
I told her my Jeep needed water. It was overheating. She informed me that the AAA does not take care of that but she’d be happy to send a tow, to arrive in about 45 minutes. I live in the desert. Sitting in the car, in the sun, with no air conditioning, and the car overheating is the stuff of nightmares. I mumbled something and she determined my location.
I developed a plan. I’d have the vehicle towed to Jeep in Cathedral City, Uber from there to the Fisherman’s Restaurant in Rancho Mirage, grab a ride to the meeting, and then Uber home. With any luck, I’d make the luncheon, at least dessert. I quickly installed the Uber App on my phone. With a plan ready, I soon saw the tow truck on the other side of the road. It did a u-turn and pulled in behind me. The driver listened to my scheme and smiled. “It’s Saturday,” he said. “The car’s only going to sit on the lot in the hot sun the rest of the weekend.”
Nothing left to do but tow the ailing Jeep home, garage it, and deal with its problem(s) on Monday. Holy c__p. While the tow truck driver put the car up on the flatbed, I arranged with Uber for a home pick-up, and called the restaurant, asking to speak with someone, anyone, in the Writers’ Guild. I wouldn’t make it to the luncheon. If things rolled smoothly and quickly, I’d make the meeting. I seemed to be placed on terminal hold. I stared at the cell phone, willing things to get moving. I didn’t want to let my associates in the Guild down. It takes about 25 minutes to read 3500 words, which would leave a gap in the program.
A friendly female voice I recognized finally came on the phone and, after I explained, she said, “No problem. I’ll come pick you up.” What? That’s a trip from Rancho Mirage to the outback of La Quinta and back again. “I’ll pick you up at your house,” the voice repeated. “Forget Uber,” she added.
All right. Great! At least I had a chance of getting to the meeting in time to do the reading. I pulled myself up the high steps into the truck cab. As I fell in, grace and aplomb evidently left the building. The driver took one look at me and said, “No worries. I got this.”
But now I had another problem. I had to cancel Uber. A lucky break, finally. Because I was such a novice with the app and, while I thought I’d arranged for a pickup, I hadn’t completed the process. No Uber driver was ever engaged. Whew!
The story had a happy ending. My friend picked me up, I did what I had to do, and she brought me home from the meeting. On the following Monday, I had the car towed to Crystal Chrysler Jeep to learn the vehicle needed a water pump. (I wouldn’t recognize one if I met one.) Fortunately, things were soon squared away. I didn’t realize writing and its special events could be so traumatic. Many thanks, Danielle, for picking me up! (I took her flowers the next day.)