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December 31, 2018

Have you ever broken down on a busy street with no shoulder?

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: , — admin @ 12:21 am

This is a tip for mobile Notaries, pizza delivery people, and others who are on the road a lot. I am no longer a Notary Public, but I still drive a fair amount. I drove to the beach at night to enjoy the relaxing environment at Pacific Palisades. I do this once a week unless I am out of town or busy. The negative ions from the Pacific ocean are really theraputic and I always feel much better afterwards.

My plans were ruined
But, this time, I was going to rush to a bar to hang out with people and enjoy some root beer (sorry, no alcohol folks). I took Sunset Blvd to drive to West Hollywood to hang out at Genghis Cohen Chinse Restaurant & Bar in hopes of seeing old acquaintances. So, as I was driving down Sunset, my car lots all connection to the transmission and started making horrible noises when in gear. I pulled over in thick traffic and tried to figure out what was wrong. The engine sounded super in neutral. But, when in any gear I heard this noise that sounded like gears treading on gears making a drill type noise. Ugh. In any case, it sounded like I broke a timing belt or some other belt, or perhaps snapped a gear if that is possible. I am not a mechanic, so I am just making reasonable guesses based on the conditions.

Sunset Blvd goes far too fast
Sunset Blvd. is a street where people are going 30-50 miles per hour on a street with two lanes on each side, generally no shoulder, and lots of curves that impede visibility. It is easy to have a head on collision going around curves if there is another car next to you going the same direction and someone drunk on the other side coming at you. People in that area are always impatient and in a huge hurry. It is not uncommon to see deadly accidents in that part of town on hilly or windy roads because people go far too fast. Although the local houses are all worth more than a million, you are in a lot of danger in that area due to the culturally ingrained road rage.

No breakdown lane or shoulder
So, I was broken down. I tried to get into the right lane weaving through other cars with my blinkers on. I managed to get to the curb, but since the car stopped moving, I could not get as close as I wanted. My rear was about two feet from the curb and my front was six inches. Cars were whizzing around and came within inches of my car. The cars in the right land could not get into the left lane if there were other cars in it which made the situation very dangerous. I felt terrified as I decided to get out of the car and call AAA. The lady at AAA was very nice to me. They called the police and a tow truck. But, neither came for the longest time. The AAA lady said she would stay on the phone with me as long as I liked which was comforting.

Directing traffic.
I stood in the middle of the right lane pointing cars to slow down or stop and get in the other lane. But, they ignored me and almost ran me down and still almost crashed into my 2004 Corolla which I love. I didn’t want to get a new car because the transmission in the older cars is more agreeable than the seven speed in the newer Corollas which changes gears every three seconds which is really annoying. Then, I got a better idea. I got my military flashlight from the car. That way cars would see me from further away. But, since they were coming around a curve and then hitting a light before they saw me, they still ignored me. They still were coming within inches of hitting my precious old car that I love so dearly. Maybe I should have shined the light directly in their faces like some obnoxious lady cop was doing at the airport. It is the only way to get people to stop ignoring you. Great idea!

Security finally showed up
A security car that looked like a police car finally showed up. He had bright orange lights on the top of his vehicle that made my break down more visible. Ten minutes later my tow truck came. He was very experienced and got me loaded up within thirty seconds and sped away at break neck speeds. He got me into my parking spot at home beautifully as well. I told him how impressed I was, because backing up with a trailer is a skill.

Precautions
To all of you people who are on the road a lot, it might make sense to practice dealing with dangerous situations ahead of time so you don’t freak out. Here are some suggestions.

1. Practice changing a tire, and make sure your spare has air in it after sitting in your trunk for years. Inspect it regularly.

2. Know where your flares are. A flare can save you from getting hit.

3. Have a few flashlights in the car, and perhaps some batteries that fit them. I have a hiking head flashlight (miner style) and a military flashlight and a regular flashlight.

4. If you break down on a busy road, stand 200 feet behind the vehicle on the curb and tell the drivers to slow down and use a flashlight if you have one. Rehearse this in your mind ahead of time so you will be ready when you are frazzled.

5. Know where your AAA card is. If you don’t have Triple A, consider getting it because they are life savers and also you can get discounts on hotels, maps, and other services with AAA.

6. Know the schedule of your reliable repair people. I prefer Toyota, but I had bad luck with the new owners of downtown Toyota, so I will have to try a new branch. They are not normally open on Sundays, so that creates an issue because today is Sunday and I am broken down in my parking spot at home. Hmmm.

7. If you are in an unsafe or remote area, having a gun is not a bad idea. I would never carry one until the world goes to hell, but you might consider it.

8. Make sure your cell phone is charged up at all times because you never know when you are going to need it.

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