If you are familiar with our family, you know that we don’t really place a high value on vehicles. Basically whatever can get us from point A to point B reliably and without a whole lot of money in maintenance will do. In our particular family, we now have three vehicles, two Chevy Malibu’s that have a combined age approaching 30 years, and a “new” Ford Flex that is only 3 years old, but is approaching 100,000 miles itself. The Flex is supposed to be our “reliable” car.
Last weekend we traveled to Littleton for Quinton’s last soccer match of the season. It was a Sunday, and I was supposed to travel to Jacksonville on Monday for work. Since we were going to do some stuff afterwards, we roused the entire family into the Flex to travel the 35 miles to the far reaches of Littleton for Quinton’s game. Though not specifically part of the story, it was a fun game that ended in a tie on a great assist by Quinton and a monster shot from around 30 yards that crept into the far upper corner of the net - the goalie never thought it had a chance it was from so far away, but apparently the kid wasn’t familiar with Quinton’s leg strength!
Anyway, that’s hardly the point. The real fun started when we stuffed everybody into the Flex to meet up with the rest of the team for some post-season ice cream, when we found that the car wouldn’t start. A few weeks prior it had done something similar while in our driveway, and we had it towed to the shop where they could only find that the battery was aging, so they swapped it out and things were fine. This time, however, the battery was not the problem. Instead, we were dead on the side of the road, 35 miles from home, with the whole fam-damily.
It’s an interesting conundrum to be stuck on a Sunday. I wasn’t ready to admit defeat. The last time it had done something like this, it eventually started again. I figured we could wait it out, but just in case, some of the other families had offered to give us rides, so I sent Ethan and Quinton for ice cream and then to get dropped off at home. I figured at least Ethan could come and pick us up later if worse came to worse. Luckily we didn’t wait that long… Mireille sort of pushed the issue, or her stomach did anyway. She started getting very upset and her tummy was hungry. We found a 7-11 on the map, so Jenny started walking there to get some snacks. I was sure the car would start at any minute, so I told her I would pick her up and then we could just go home…
60 minutes later, Jenny made it back and the car was in no better shape. Now was the time to make some interesting decisions. It was Sunday, so no auto-repair shops were open, so I had no idea where I could even have the car towed to if I could find a tow truck. We decided to just leave it on the side of the road, and to come back later in hopes that it would start. Luckily, one of the families called us after ice cream and checked on us and offered us a ride back to Aurora, which we accepted.
Later that afternoon, Ethan and I drove the 35 miles again in one of our less reliable cars and I was sure that the car was going to start at that point. It did not…
Long story, well, still sort of long, we left the car where it was. It was safe on the side of the road in Littleton for the time being. The bigger issue was the travel I had impending in the morning. My flight was at 6:00 AM, so Jenny had to get up at 3:45 to drop me off at the airport. Have I mentioned how nice it is that we have kids old enough to leave home when we have to do crazy things like that?
After my first leg of travel, I landed in Atlanta at 11:00 Eastern, 9:00 Mountain, where I started sorting the whole mess out with the benefit of my cell phone and the internet. All told, it really wasn’t too much of a hassle. I was able to leave the key hidden in the vehicle and give the shop the door code so they could get at it. I did marvel at how much easier situations like this are these days than they would have been even 10 years ago. Smart phones, ubiquitous internet, door codes, etc., have all progressed to the point where I could get a tow truck, have it tow my car unattended to a shop that I selected from the internet, then I was able to walk them through what was happening to the point where they could diagnose and fix the problem all before I returned home from my trip. It was pretty remarkable, actually.