I just got back from a little adventure.
The power steering on my Dodge Ram 4X4 has been going bad lately. Mind you, a Dodge Ram 4X4 is not steerable without powered assistance. Pay attention as this will be important later.
My husband and I, knowing nothing about cars, dumped in some more power steering fluid and called it good. Turns out, all was not…good.
Today I took the truck out for some errands, braving Tampa’s busy highways, which I can barely navigate after only a week in the city. I was cruising along when all of a sudden – no steering. That’s right. NO STEERING. Steering is pretty important when you are driving a two-ton behemoth at 65 miles per hour.
Surpisingly, rather than freaking the fuck out (as I did with the earwig encounter earlier today), I managed to wrench the wheel enough to the right to steer onto the shoulder. (Luckily I was in the right lane when the steering quit.) So I sat there thinking, now what?
I fumbled with the hazard lights and finally got them on, although I harbored no illusions that this would protect me from the hundreds of vehicles zooming past. Then I did what any logical, strong, independent woman would do – I called my husband.
I didn’t know his phone number yet at work, since he just started on Monday. Luckily I had the main company number in my phone and the receptionist was able to give me his extension.
Then I tried his cell phone.
It was at this point that I remember he was on-site in Clearwater with his boss and would be unreachable all day.
Clearly I cannot stay here in my truck, on the side of Veteran’s highway. Besides courting death, the air on the truck is on longer working (WTF?) and I literally have sweat pouring off of me.
At this point, I decide to channel my inner badass to take a look under the hood. I do a little, “You can do it, you can do it” chant under my breath and pop the hood. I was still hoping that it was a power steering fluid leak and that if I filled it back up, I would be able to make it home. (Luckily I still had half a bottle of steering fluid in the truck with me.)
It took me about half a dozen tries to get that fucking hood open. I hope you are picturing, at this point, a big black Dodge Ram 4X4 pulled off the side of the road, with a 5 foot tall blonde thing who comes up to the grill (barely) standing on tippy toes trying to look under the hood.
I found the power steering fluid thingamajig and poured some liquid in. I didn’t get very far because it was already full. Damn. Apparently I got bigger problems than lack of fluid. Oh and now? My cute pink Ann Taylor dress shirt has grease monkey stains on the boob. Nice.
I don’t know anybody in Tampa. In desperation, I called our apartment building’s leasing office. (This is the same office that hasn’t yet sent maintenance to fix the 319 things that are broken in this ghetto apartment.) The leasing lady gives me phone numbers to 4 towing companies.
I couldn’t reach anyone at the towing places except for one goober who says they don’t have a flatbed right now and do I understand why that means they can’t come and get me. Yeah, I get it. My big badass truck is too much for you. Fine.
In further desperation, I call Dar. That’s right. I called my Internet buddy Dar. Not only did I call her, having never met her, to help me out of this fucked up situation, but I interrupted her in a meeting at work. I’m sure she’s going to want to be my best friend now.
To her credit, she tried to help me. She said she would look for some towing places for me and call me back. In the meantime, I tried my places again and got hold of somebody to come get me.
At this point, I had been chilling (and I mean that very figuratively) on the side of the highway for about 20 minutes. And it’s going to be another 30 before the tow truck gets to me. I decide to lean up against the guard rail behind the truck so traffic can see me and hopefully not kill me or my truck.
Oh, and as far as Southern Hospitality goes, two cars stopped to see if I needed help. This was after I had already gotten hold of the towing service so I sent them on their way. I was surprised I didn’t get more good samaritans, but was very pleased with these two individuals. Except that one gave me his full name and somehow gave me the impression that he may be running for office. Ken Fleming for City Councilman!
Finally, the tow truck came. The driver was straight out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The term “inbred” feels woefully inadequate. At one point, Cleetus stopped mid-sentence to hock a Skoal loogie over the guard rail. Getting in the tow truck and riding with his was just barely preferable to staying out and cheating death on the side of the highway. Barely.
Cleetus tried to chat me up on the way to the garage. I wish I could tell you what we talked about, but all I remember is that the cab of his tow truck smelled like corn nuts. Also, the ringtone on this phone was the theme from the first Austin Powers movie. I don’t know what that means.
I got to the garage and signed the paperwork. I had resigned myself to mooching a ride home from Cleetus (shudder), but the garage people offered me a ride from an older, grandfatherly gentleman who worked there. The folks at Pro Care or whatever the place is called where I took my truck seemed clean cut and nice, so I went off with grandpa.
Grandpa talked to me for that ten minute ride like he didn’t have a soul to listen to him. He was doing me a favor so I was very attentive and kind, but you know that inside my eyes were rolling. Poor guy.
Grandpa has 5 sons, two live in Ohio and two live here. He grew up in Euclid. He’s going back up for a wedding soon, his dead friend’s daughter. His son was married in a castle in Southern Ohio. I could give you detailed descriptions on their castle accomdations, but I’ll spare you.
Ten minutes and Grandpa’s life story later, I’m home. What a fricking day. Since I sweated about a quart and a half out there, I’m hoping I can skip the gym tonight.
Welcome to Tampa.