I95 Hates Me

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It was just another weekend in Hoboken for me.

I had plans to visit Tori and her husband in Mamaroneck, NY on Friday for a birthday dinner. Tori is now a New York City police officer, and loves her job. She would still be in Hoboken if it wasn't for the rule that New York City cops must live in New York or a surrounding county.

I never drove up to Mamaroneck before, and had my handy MapQuest guide to show me the way. It was a bit complex, with the directions taking me into New York City, up the West Side Highway, then to 95, then to I87, then Cross Bronx and a few other roads. It was listed as a 53 minute drive and it took me about 90 minutes. It wasn't too bad, I remember way back in the day my father always warning me about driving in Philadelphia. He was adamant about being "extra careful" because of the way that other people drive. How city driving is much different than suburb driving.

Even now, when I drive into New York City, I have a dull undercurrent of stress about it. It doesn't make me nervous, but I can almost hear my father's voice about being extra careful. I laughed it off when I drove up there, and still can't believe that at thirty five i'm still the sixteen year old driver deep down somewhere.

We had dinner, with lots of laughs and jokes. Tori invited up some current and old friends and it was like old times, for a while. It was like nothing had changed, we just pick right up from where we left off.

I got into my car and drove back, around 1am. I decided to just disregard MapQuest and take I95 to the George Washington, get off there and take River Road back to Hoboken. I figured it was easier to deal with and at that time of night i'd hit little traffic.

On my way, not much happened, until I see a huge pothole ahead of me. I knew in a split second that it was going to be bad for my car to hit it, and I was in the left lane, with a car in the right lane blocking any chance for me to swerve.

"BOOM! BOOM!", was the loud sound of my front and rear tires hitting the pothole. My 1993 Volvo rattled and shook after it, and all I could think was "Please, please get me back to Hoboken."

I got back, and checked out my front tire, which I was sure would be deflated. After looking at it, it seemed fine, and I was very happy that I didn't break down on I-95 at 1am on a Friday.

On Sunday I had plans to visit Brad to watch football, see his kids for the first time. Tthey are a year old and I have only seen pictures of them - {insert sarcasm} i'm a great friend.

As soon as I got into my car, I knew something was wrong.

I wasn't sure what it was, but my car was really sluggish.

I figured that it was the cold winter air on my 14 year old engine, and hoped that it would just go away. I had to get in I-95 to drive to exit 8A, and as i'm driving the car is rumbling and really making me concerned.

I get on I-95, and i'm just past the toll after exit 14B, past the Statue of Liberty & Aquarium, and I pull over. I get out and look at my front tire and it's fine. I turn around and my back tire is completely deflated, with the rim exposed and smoking.

Oh fuck.

I check my trunk, and I don't have a spare.


I get back into my car, and check my wallet. I don't drive very much but every year I always get AAA renewed. It costs like $50, and in a time like this was worth $500 to me. I call them, and they nicely tell me that I-95 has their own special repair service, and I get transferred to that group.

They tell me that someone will be out in thirty minutes. This is at 12:40 pm.

Time passes. I listen to the radio, and watch cars pass me. I think that if I get a tow truck I can just get towed to the Jersey City Sears Auto Center and get a new tire.

Around 1:25 I call Triple A, to find out how much longer I had to wait. They told me that I was "next in line" and that the service guy was helping another car about 1/2 mile away.

I continue to wait. Bored, I open up my glovebox and start reading my owners manual for the car. I read that the difference between D, 1, and 2 on my gearbox. What the shiftlock does. How I shouldn't tow my car with the key in the locked position. My spare tire under the trunk mat.

Spare tire?

I get out and look, and indeed the crafty Swedish have a spare tire in my car - made my Firestone. Well, it was better than nothing. There was also a very basic axel jack, and after fiddling with it, and getting grease all over my hands, I realized something about myself.

I work far too hard, working two jobs, and had zero interest in getting dirty in 20 degree weather to replace my tire. I'm sure if I was born and raised in a family where people were handy with things like this, i'd be all for handling it myself. It this was a computer network, i'd be all for troubleshooting. If it was working a doubleshift at a bar on St. Patrick's Day - no problem! Being a greasemonkey for 15 minutes, with me getting under my car on a wet, cold roadway to attach the jack and then attempting to replace a spare tire with a manual crank to remove the lug-nuts....I don't think so.

So I got back into my car, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I call back at 2:15, asking what the delay was. I was on I-95 for about an hour and a half. I haven't seen a single police cruiser stop by to inquire what I was doing (I had the spare tire outside my car, leaning against my rear bumper).

They told me that the service guy was still helping the other car, and the other car didn't have a spare tire. The service guy had to go back to the station, get a tire, and go back out, which was causing the delay.

I normally would get upset here, but it was one of those situations where I was helpless. So I just waited.

About 15 minutes later I see a black Nissan Maxima pull over ahead of me. There were four people in the car, wearing black puffy jackets. It took me about a moment to realize that I may be in trouble.

Growing up in the suburbs, I wouldn't say that my life was sheltered, but I would say that my experiences have taught me that I have a certain wariness about those that don't conform to the prototypical standards of those I was raised around. I'm not proud of this, but at least i'm honest about it with those that read my site.

The driver rolls next to me, and he is hispanic, and looks about 22. I'm a bit nervous, because I can't get away if this guy pulls a gun and says "Give me your money". Yes, I was actually thinking this.

He says, "Hey man! You need help?", while he says this I notice on his jacket it says "USMC".

I quickly say, "No, no. I called Triple A and they are going to be here in a minute."

He nods and the USMC Good Samaritan drives away.

You may think i'm paranoid, but I know that plenty of people have been robbed when their cars were disabled on the highway.

I waited another fifteen minutes and a police cruiser shows up, asking if I needed help. I told him I was on the road for 2 hours waiting for the service guy. He calls into his dispatch and says he will get someone out to me in 25 minutes.

About 10 minutes later the service guy shows up (it is about 2:40 by now), and explains that the delay was because the person ahead of me was a woman with an infant driving a car without a spare tire and they got priority.

{insert sarcasm} Smart mom, there.

It takes him no more than 10 minutes to fix my car. After getting the spare on, and lowering the jack - the spare (which probably hasn't been used in 14 years) is very deflated. I ask him if he has an air generator to inflate it.

Nope, it is broken, he explains.

He says I can drive to the Seacaucus exit, gives me directions to a gas station where I can inflate it. I get in my car and slowly drive away, going abut 40 miles per hour on my nearly deflated spare tire. I get to the gas station and three cars are in line for air.


What is this "Air Day"??

The woman in her enormous SUV is standing there, looking for change. Behind her, a woman gets out of her car, with her husband at the wheel, and starts to chat with the girl looking for change.

Blood. Pressure. Rising.

I wait a bit, watching the girl chit-chat and look for change. Her tires look fine. I lamely look at the guy behind her and say, "Popular day for air, huh?"

He smiles and agrees.

I turn to the women and say, "I'll give you the change for the air if you can please hurry up."

I was expecting them to say something snippy back, but it actually works and they get a move on. When she was done, she offers me the hose, and I thanked her and the guy driver, explaining I have been disabled for two hours. They are sympathetic to my plight.

My stomach is growling at this point. I left Hoboken at 12:30, not eating all day, expecting that i'd get to Princeton and have lunch. It was past 3pm and i'm starving.

I get to the Sears auto center and there are three people in line.

I wait.

I wait.

I wait.

Seriously, I can't stress to you enough how long this was taking.

Finally they see me, and look over my car, the deflated tire and the rim. The rim is bent in two places. They tell me they can hammer it back into place if I want, and see if that works or call a local Volvo dealership and buy a new one. I take one look at the rim and decide that I will just get a new rim. Total cost would be just over $200. There goes my bartending money.

Oh well.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on December 3, 2007 12:12 AM.

Moments Of Remembrance... was the previous entry in this blog.

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