Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Year of Gratitude - Day Two Hundred Forty-nine

Day 249 - AAA
Today was an “OK” day - not spectacular, but not unpleasant.  Until the evening, that is.
I was on my way to the first of two events I had on my calendar.  The first was a professional mixer where I was to meet a recent acquaintance and his partner, who are relatively new to town, and introduce them to others in the group.  The second event was a Happy Hour kick-off to another friend’s “birthday weekend” (he turns 50 on Sunday, and he and his partner are pulling out the stops, celebrating all weekend long).
Unfortunately, my car had other plans.  As I left Aquila Glass School in North Portland, I noticed the battery light was lit on the dashboard.  My mechanic had warned me that I would need to replace it soon - it wasn’t holding a charge well, and given its 10 years of daily service, it was time.  I decided to take surface streets to the evening’s events in case I had further troubles, and as I headed southbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, I was certain I would pass an auto parts store.
Sure enough, I saw the O’Reilly’s just south of Killingsworth, and pulled into their small parking lot.  I parked the car, and as I turned it off, I thought to wonder if it would start again.  I turned the ignition, and got nothing.  OK, this is serious.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have my battery in stock, so they jumped the car for me (they brought a new battery out to do a “field test”).  I backed out of the parking spot, and as I put it in gear, I turned the headlights back on.  The car died instantly.  I instinctively put it in park and turned the lights off.
Who knew that the gear shift would lock in park and stay locked without electricity?  Here I am sitting in the middle of their lot, blocking anyone who would want to enter.  I ran back into the store, and Christian, one of the employees, re-jumped my car, and I pulled back into the parking spot; Christian suggested I could wait inside the store and offered further help if I needed anything.
I called AAA.  I had just sent my renewal payment in, but I knew my account was current until next month.  The first tow truck arrived about 20 minutes later, but wasn’t able to take it - the Miata’s front end is too low to allow the back end to be lifted high enough to manage, so he had to call a flatbed service in.  It took another 20 minutes, and temperatures had dropped to levels I wasn’t dressed for, so I had to step into the store from time to time to warm up.  When it rains, in pours.  Oh, and it was raining, too.
The flatbed truck arrived, and we eventually got my car to my mechanic’s in Tigard.  (The lot was full there, too, so I hope they're able to work on it tomorrow.)  Everyone involved was helpful and nice.  If it weren’t for AAA, I would have spent an uncomfortable night leaving my car on a commercial street in NE Portland, practically advertising a vulnerable vehicle.  I have only used AAA’s roadside assistance twice, but the peace of mind is worth the money.  This is a service I will continue to pay for as long as I own a car.

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