Zach Miller (zarfmouse) wrote,
Zach Miller
zarfmouse

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Ancient History - The Weekend from Hell

This is something I wrote on August 27, 2001...well before I had a livejournal. A couple of friends have asked me to retell the story recently so I figured it was worth posting. How bad can a weekend of Ferrick and Gaming be? Pretty hilariously bad.

And of course, all of this happened while I was borrowing my sister's car. This is a major reason why when I have to drive I prefer to drive a fully insured road-side-assisted rental car rather than someone elses multi-thousand dollar personal transportation. Something always goes wrong.

/* Written 1:45 am Aug 27, 2001 by wolfgang@pollux.imsa.edu in pollux.imsa.edu:alt.jarf */
/* ---------- "The Weekend From Hell" ---------- */
This weekend:

First I'm driving north and I get hit by the MASSIVE RAINS OF DOOM. Ehn, no big deal, drive slow, get there a bit late. Drop by friends off in Chicago and head to Kimmitt's.

Then I'm driving west on 290 and I've gotta pee REALLY BAD. Like I'm going to pass out from the agony. I try to hold it until Mike's but I just can't imagine that. So I get off at a random exit only to find myself in some _seriously_ blighted neighborhood. The roads are only half paved, the pot holes are as big as my car, it is like driving in a former war zone or something. I go to 3 gas stations and none of them have public restrooms. One directs me to a McDonalds "down the street" but a woman in teh station yells out to me "that McDonalds is closed down". So I give up hope, it is time to leave and get off on the next exit. But as I drive back to the expressway I discover there is no way to get back on! It is one of those aweful exits where you can get off but you can't get back on without knowing the neighborhood (no signs). I get totally turned around and end up in some warehouse and industrial district. I give up, park, lock the doors, pull down my pants, and piss in a bottle. 21st century and I'm pissing in a bottle in some bombed out part of Chicago that the rest of the world just kind of forgot about. Why the hell doesn't the city come and FIX THIS PLACE. Something is wrong with our urban infrastructure, very wrong.

Then after getting lost from a combination of bad directions and bad following of directions, I eventually get to Mike's.

That night, after a fabulous game of Age of Renn. and some great Thai food, I'm driving back to Chicago from Kimmitt's place and my alternator light on the car comes on (ominous red icon of a battery). The car is running fine and I think little of it while I am on the expressway. When I get into the stop and go traffic of the city I notice that with every start-from-stop the car is a little more sluggish and the console lights are fading dimmer and dimmer. Ah hell, the battery is dying.

So I manage to push the car to about 6 blocks from the concert that I am late for before I just park it on the street so it doesn't crap out in the middle of an intersection or something (at this point I have no acceleration and my headlights are basically useless).

I'm thinking to myself: was it the bottoming out on the ROAD OF DOOM that ripped up some of my car's vital organs? was it the torrential downpour that shorted out the electrical workings?

I go to the concert and resolve to forget about it until morning. The only thing that mitigates the rest of this story is that the concert was _absolutely_ phenomenal and generated at least one very humorous and good story for a friend of mine.

The next morning I spend some time on the phone with a whole lot of different people who are in the know and have connections in the city trying to figure out who to tow the car and where to tow it to. Eventually we find some guys who I have to contact through a rather shady protocol who will tow my car "for a real cheap flat rate...cash" who will tow the car to my friend's step-dad's garage in Buffalo Grove.

So we drive out to meet the tow truck at my car and on the way my friend KILLS A CAT. I mean it couldn't be avoided. This cat just jumped out of no where and ended up getting run over by the tires of the car. I mean this cat had to work really hard to get hit that well. The owners of the cat were right there and boy howdy were they sad. Doesn't help that my friend who was driving is prone to getting down about the fleeting nature of life, and really likes cats.

Then the tow truck comes and the real adventure starts. I was expecting a flatbed, but its a hook truck. "The flatbed just had its tires blow out so I had to take this one." The guy doesn't have the right straps to secure the car. "My straps got stolen from off of the truck, so all I've got is these old ones." I get in the truck and there is no seat belt, the dash board is gutted, the doors are gutted, instead of a handle to open and close the windows there is a vice-grips latched onto the window opening post. There are sharp exposed bits of metal everywhere you look.

We start driving. The driver reveals that he forgot his atlas and doesn't know the area we are driving to very well. We work it out.

As we bounce down the bumpy chicago road (I swear this truck has no shocks) and I think about how frightening it is that this is the good part of the city, I wonder how people get towed in that war zone from the day before. The driver tells me about one time when he was towing a guy on the southside he hit a pothole so hard that the car bounced off the hookup on the truck and ended up in the middle of the road. "But it was fine because it was in park and so it didn't roll away". "Uh...but you told me to leave the car in Neutral." "Uh...we better stop and fix that."

So then we're driving up I-94 at a fair clip and there is a thump-thump-thump sound and the truck is a little harder to drive. The thumping gets louder and we pull to the side to investigate. Flat tire. ("Man, those were brand new tires, too.") Well not flat, the treads are falling off and there is a flap. It is one of those trucks with 4 wheels on the back axel though so the driver resolves to continue driving since he doesn't have a spare tire and is determined to get me to my destination and return to his wife and kids.

As we drive the thumping gets louder and louder and then turns into a ringing. "Oh, must be hitting my muffler". Keeps driving...."Wait a minute, my gas tank is on that side, we'd better stop and check it out". We stop and the gas tank is fine but the flap has gotten bigger and now the mud flap has been pulled up into the tire.

Keep driving. BOOM! All of a sudden the already loud scene gets much much louder and more violent. We stop and check it out. Now here's the climax of the drama in this story: The flap of tire ripped off the muffler and half the exhaust system ("Man, that was a brand new exhaust system too"), which in turn punctured the gas tank causing a small but persistent leak, and then flew back behind the truck UNDER MY CAR. Luckily the thing only scratched the underside of the floor board of my car and did no other (visible) damage. So the guy tries to grab the muffler from under my car and of course OH THE BURNING. The guy reels back in pain and is now laying IN THE LANE on the EXPRESSWAY with oncoming traffic. He realizes how stupid this is and rolls back to the car and is safe but still in great pain. We have no water or ice, he spits on his hand and grabs some tools. The muffler is removed from where it was wedged and we begin driving again.

But now we're driving so slowly due to the damaged tire and fear of further badness that nobody will let us back into the lane of traffic. So we drive for 20 miles ON THE EDGE OF THE SHOULDER (thank god there _was_ a shoulder) and the whole time the guy keeps staring at his burned hand, taking his eyes off the road and hands off the wheel and ALMOST falling off the edge of the shoulder into the ditch.

The guys wife calls on his cell phone wondering why he isn't home for dinner. "Because we had a flat and have to drive slow." "_We_?" "Yeah, me and my car load of bitches...the _owner_ of the car I'm towing of course". She harrangues him for about 15 minutes about being late and missing dinner and all that.

Then we're on Dundee, and every time he sees a cop he freaks out that if he is stopped the truck will be "red tagged" for safety violation and impounded (leaving me stranded). Finally we get to our final destination, my car miraculously emerges unscathed, I pay the guy the agreed on cash amount and he and his truck hobble off into the sunset.

My friend is waiting for me at the shop to drive me home. The one final thing is to put the keys in the glove box for the mechanic. Of course, I LOCKED THEM IN THE CAR.

Stranded in Chicago...what a weekend.

/* End of text from pollux.imsa.edu:alt.jarf */
Tags: chicago, road trip, stories
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