What an odd few days I’ve had.
Thursday was a fairly normal day for the most part. I went to work. When I was getting out of my car, I noticed that I had stuck my license in the handle of the driver’s side door. I figured I had better not leave it there, lest I lose it, so I quickly stuck it in my back pocket. After work, I piddled around for a while, ate a Lean Pocket, shaved my legs, then went to play softball. Anneliese and I had planned to meet at 9:30 at Bad Ass Coffee, so once we had walloped Cornerstone in sball (12-7, and I was 2-for-4!), I sped back to my house for a much-needed shower.
After my shower, I was still really hot, so I threw on a skirt and T-shirt, hopped back in the car and hightailed it over to B.A., where I ended up ordering a sandwich because softball made me really hungry. We chilled at B.A. for a while, chatted about all the goings-on in our lives, then parted ways because we both needed to get to bed.
I was on the phone with Kettle and almost home when flashing reds-and-blues suddenly appeared behind me. I was incredibly confused – did I run a stop sign? I quickly hung up the phone and pulled over, waiting for what seemed like an eternity (and really probably was about five minutes), the police officer made his way to my window.
“Ma’am, did you realize you have a busted taillight?”
“Can I see your driver’s license and proof of insurance?”
Shuffling. Grabbing of insurance card from wallet. Realization that I do not have my license with me.
“Um, here’s my insurance, sir, but I just remembered I left my license in the back pocket of the pants I had on earlier.”
Thankfully, Officer Kimbrough, whom I have encountered before thanks to our wild, partying neighbors, allowed me to recite all my information to him. Once he had all my info, he moseyed back to his car and took his dear, sweet time – writing me a ticket.
He explained that the ticket was for the busted taillight, but that I could get the taillight repaired and inspected and then visit the municipal court to have the ticket “taken care of.”
“Does that mean the ticket will be taken off my record?”
Significant look. “I’m required to tell you that it might get taken off your record if you do that. Understand?”
I nodded, relieved. I was not looking forward to a higher insurance rate just because of a busted taillight.
Thankfully, I had already requested to have part of the day Friday off work in order to get my oil changed and go to my doctor’s appointment, so I figured I would just get my taillight fixed and inspected, too, while I was at it.
I left my house at 7 a.m. Friday morning and headed to Wal-Mart for an oil change. I also requested that they check my tires and inform me if I needed new ones. Miraculously, I was done at Wal-Mart by 8.
From Wal-Mart, I proceeded to Advance Auto, where I purchased red tape to put over my broken rear light. I hustled back to my house, wiped down the area where I needed to place the tape and smacked a sufficient amount of red strips over the hole.
By the time this proceeding was completed, it was about 8:45, so I knew I would need to hurry and get to the courthouse before my 9:45 doctor’s appointment. I arrived at the municipal court, parked and went in, as directed by Officer Kimbrough the previous evening. I related to the clerk what I needed to do, and she explained to me that since I had only gotten the ticket the previous evening that they wouldn’t be able to process it yet because they didn’t have a copy of it. Further, they didn’t have an officer available to inspect my car, so I would need to drive to the police station off of 35th Street.
I speed-walked back to my car and drove over to the police station, mindful of the time. Thankfully, an officer was immediately available to inspect my car, and he signed off on my ticket, no problem. So I have to call the municipal court on Monday to get it completely taken care of.
After all that, I went to the doctor’s office. I ended up having to get four shots for my tendonitis. This was miserable and left my hand numb (yet surprisingly painful) for the rest of the day. Once the numbness went away, the painfulness increased. Yuck.
Once all these errands were taken care of, I ran by Qdoba to grab some (delicious) three-cheese chicken nachos for lunch before heading in to work. I took ‘em with me.
Once at work, I spent a little bit of time in my office before being summoned to the front desk to answer the phone. At some point during all this, I got the wonderfully brilliant idea to drive down to Enterprise and surprise Kettle and just leave from my parents’ house for South Carolina. Since the drive from my parents’ house to S.C. is about the same distance (give or take), I figured it would definitely be worth it.
Kettle ended up having to work late, and I talked with him a few times on my way. I managed to keep my visit mostly a secret, although he suspected I might be up to something because I was really giggly. I debated with myself about the best way to surprise him and concluded that I definitely wanted to do it in person and not over the phone. Should I try to find his apartment and wait for him there, or should I try to track him down at work and give him something to look forward to when he gets off?
I went with Option B.
Somehow, I actually remembered how to get to the Level Plains store, which is (I think) the only one I have visited. As I pulled up to the intersection, I saw his car sitting in front of the store. I did a little happy dance. It was lucky that he was at this store, because he supervises about eight of ‘em.
So then, as I’m parking my car outside of the store, Kettle calls.
“Wow, I didn’t even hear your phone ring!”
I was flabbergasted. Did he see me drive up?
“Um, yeah, I answered it really quickly.”
“How’s the drive?”
“Yeah, I just um… pulled off to get something to drink.”
“Are you mad? You’re being really short with me.”
“No, not mad. I’m just about to get out and get something to drink.”
“OK. Well, I have to get back to work. Talk to you later.”
I will admit, I was rather pleased with myself at this point. I had actually been making my way toward the front of the store as I was talking to him and even walked in while I was still on the phone. He was back in the office area, so I asked the cashier to go get him and tell him there was an angry customer waiting to talk to him.
The look on his face when he saw me was pretty much priceless – a cross between tired, confused and happy.
We hugged and made plans for the evening. He hoped to be getting off within an hour, so I went and amused myself until he got off (it was more like two hours, but that’s OK!). I ended up calling my friend Brittany, who lives in Enterprise, and hanging out with her. She joined us for dinner at Ruby Tuesday and became the first of my friends to meet Kettle.
Kettle and I both ordered a bacon cheddar bison burger for our meal (he got me hooked on that one). I ordered mine with no onions. When our order came up, we were presented with identical burgers, complete with onions and no bacon or cheese. We settled for being amused, figuring that getting upset wouldn’t do us much good.
We dropped Brittany off after dinner, and Kettle took me over to his new townhouse. I got the full tour. I liked it.
A bit past midnight, we finally realized that he still had to take me back to my car, and I had to get up super early to drive to S.C. Of course, once we got to my car, we stood and talked for longer.
Saying goodbye is hard.
I finally made it to my parents’ house, where I had arranged to spend the night, around 1:45. I quickly looked up the directions on the Internet (as quickly as I could on dial-up) and surmised that I could actually sleep until 8 and still be able to make the wedding at 4. I had communicated to Sarah that I would come to her house after the wedding.
So around 7:20, my phone rings. Kettle.
“Hey, you on the road yet?”
Unintelligible mumbling. Something about still being in bed.
“Oh. What time are you leaving?”
“OK, well, call me when you are on the road.”
I lay in bed for a few more minutes before finally deciding that it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra few minutes in case I got lost or needed to stop for an extra bathroom break or two. I got up and spent some time chatting with my mom before hopping in the shower. I printed off some directions, threw the handful of things I had brought into the house the previous evening into my car, and said my good-byes. I ended up leaving around 8:45.
As I approached Eufaula, my cell phone beeped, indicating I had a voicemail. Another call from Kettle.
“Guess what I bought?!?”
I called him back and correctly answered that he must have bought a giant television. He told me about it as Eufaula came and went … 72-inch, widescreen, good for X-Box play. I hung up with a guarantee that I would call him if I got too sleepy or thought of anything funny I wanted to tell him.
Around 10, I realized I was starving and decided Phenix City would be a great place to stop for a breakfast sandwich. I pulled into McDonald’s and parked, figuring I would kill two birds with one stone by getting breakfast and using the restroom.
The only problem was, Phenix City is in the Eastern time zone. Which means they were serving lunch, not breakfast. I sighed and ordered a quarter pounder with cheese and no onions. I got back to my car and eagerly opened up my burger box. The burger had onions on it. And no cheese.
Am I seeing some sort of theme here?
I figured this was humorous enough to give Kettle a call. I caught him in the middle of doing something, so we only spoke briefly before he had to go, but he assured me he would call back. I navigated through a series of turns before settling in on I-185 toward Atlanta and setting my cruise control around 78 mph.
Kettle called me back, I guess somewhere around mile marker 25. He apologized for being short in our earlier conversation, and I told him it was not a big deal, that I knew he wouldn’t blow me off for no good reason.
Suddenly I felt a difference in the way my car was handling. And I heard a thump.
“Hey, I think I’m getting a flat tire.”
Whomp. Whomp. Whomp whomp whomp whompwhompwhompwhomp.
“Oh, my gosh, I can hear that!”
I somehow managed to juggle the phone with turning on my signal to change into the right-hand lane, getting my emergency flashers on and finally pulling off onto the shoulder. I pulled as far as I could manage without leaving the pavement, but I could still feel the car shake violently as cars passed to my left.
I hung up with Kettle. I looked at the clock. I looked at my cell phone. I looked at the clock again. I sighed and pulled out my roadside assistance card.
My roadside assistance provider (the guy I talked to was so obviously reading from a script that it was almost funny … personal favorite line: “I understand that you must feel frustrated right now…”) assured me that help would be on the way as soon as possible. I attempted to contact Georgia Highway Patrol to let them know that there was a little silver Honda disabled on the shoulder just outside of Pine Mountain, about 75 miles south of Atlanta. For some reason, I couldn’t get a call through to them, so I gave that up. No police intercession for me!
After sitting in the car for a couple of minutes, I realized that I was beginning to sweat and that I might as well make the best of a bad situation. No point in getting upset, because that would just make the situation that much worse. I had a blanket and some pillows in the backseat of my car, and a book that I’ve been reading in my purse. I grabbed these items, along with my camera, and trotted down the slope to the tree line, about 25-30 feet from my car and the freeway. After taking a few pictures of my poor, lopsided car, I plopped down in the shade on my quilt. Took a few more pictures, mostly of me looking pitiful. Called Laci and told her I would be unable to make it to her wedding because of the flat. Called Sarah and told her that I was just going to turn around and head back to my parents’ house when I finally got the tire fixed. At some point during all this, I also called Bobby back and called my parents.
The roadside service provider arrived in pretty good time. He inspected my old tire and informed me that I would definitely have to get a new one.
Good ol’ boy accent: “This tire’s wore out.”
This increased my frustration level since I had just had my tires checked (supposedly) at Wal-Mart the previous day.
I asked the repair guy if he knew of anywhere nearby I could get my tire replaced. He cocked his head, thought for a second, then replied, “Naw, you’d prolly have to go to LaGrange or Columbus to get that fixed today.”
I nodded, although I felt slightly hesitant about driving that far on my do-nut tire. Columbus was closest, and it was about 30 miles in the opposite direction from where I was headed.
I drove to the nearest exit and waited patiently while the cashier jabbered with a customer about how she liked “them mo-jee-tos.” The customer politely corrected her (“I think it’s mo-hee-tos. The ‘j’ is sort of silent.”) and evacuated the store. I smiled at the attendant.
“Do you know of anywhere I can get a tire fixed?”
“On a Saturday? Naw. You’d have to take it back up to Columbus. Or maybe LaGrange”
Another worker butted in and told me he knew of an exit in Columbus where there was a tire repair place. I thanked both of them and headed on my merry way – slowly driving back to Columbus. Fifty mph makes a 30-mile trip seem a lot longer.
When I arrived back in Columbus, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what exit the gas station worker had been referring to, so I just took the exit for downtown Columbus. I stopped at another gas station and had better luck this time. Another customer was able to give me directions to a tire repair shop about a half mile from there.
I pulled into the lot of the Chevron/auto shop and was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t a wait. Two mechanics approached me simultaneously.
“Can I help you ma’am?”
“What can we do for you?”
I requested a new tire, and they were more than happy to oblige. Mere minutes later, I was the proud owner of a lovely, pumped up, spanking new front passenger’s side tire. Highlights of my brief visit to the Chevron auto repair club: Being asked if I play the “git-tar” while one of the men was putting my spare back in my trunk and being hit on by the tire delivery guy, who told me to “stay cool.”
By this point, the only option was for me to head back to my parents’ house. I had figured this would be the case, hence the earlier phone calls to let people know that I would, in fact, not be going to S.C. If I had tried to make it, I likely would not have arrived in Greenwood until about 7, which would have been pretty pointless. I got back on the phone to let Kettle and my parents know that I had been re-tired and that I was on the road again.
After stopping in Eufaula for some much-needed coffee, I finally made my weary way back to my parents’ house around 2:15. Since then, I have napped, spent a little bit of time with Mom and made some evening plans with Kettle.
So, yeah, it has been an interesting few days. I’m sad that I did not get to attend either wedding to which I was invited today. My Target dress that I bought for the summer wedding season has yet to have its tags removed – still.
But the weekend’s not a total wash. I get to see Kettle. I get to see my parents. I got to take a nap.
I’ll be heading back to T-town tomorrow. I’m a little afraid to see what adventure will come next!
P.S.: Pictures of the car sadness to come (once I get back to Tuscaloosa).
A wee little update.
3 months ago