I. Am. Such. An. Idiot.
The last day of Shore Leave went fine — more later. The drive home, not so much. Here is the chain of decisions that led to my current, entirely avoidable predicament:
About an hour out from Hunt Valley, just south of Harrisburg, I’m hit by severe rainfall that reduces visibility almost to zero. Traffic crawls along. I keep going slowly, looking out for exit signs. I see indications of an exit 2 miles ahead.
I see other cars pulled over in emergency pull-offs to wait out the storm. I decide to keep going to the exit.
Once I get near the exit, the rain starts to abate. I think about continuing, but I decide to pull off and stop for a while just in case it gets worse again.
After I get off the Turnpike, I have two ways to go, north toward Harrisburg or south toward Carlisle. I choose south.
Before very long at all, I see I’ve made the wrong choice; there’s nothing but road ahead of me, and I don’t know where it goes. I turn around and head back to get on the turnpike.
Just before getting back on the turnpike, I see a sign for a Wendy’s a bit further ahead. I veer out of the on-ramp and keep going straight.
I look for the entrance to the lot — a combined lot for Wendy’s and a convenience store/service station called Love’s — and spot it a bit late. I make the turn at the last possible instant….
And it’s actually a bit after that. My rear-view mirror hits the sign and my driver-side wheels go up on the curb.
As I pull in to a parking space, I feel the left side of the car is all bumpy, and I begin to realize what happened.
I get out and see that both driver-side tires are completely flat and off the rims, and at least the front rim is bent. (This is getting ahead of the story; I didn’t get told this until later. I don’t know from rims.)
So (shifting to past tense now) I tried calling my insurance company’s emergency assistance number. The first connection was almost inaudible and I didn’t get any help; she couldn’t even find my account. I accidentally disconnected the call, and called again. Got a better connection this time, and it turned out my account was still in my father’s name (I inherited his car) — and the roadside assistance had expired months ago. Still, the operator did his best to help me find a towing service or a tire shop. He found one practically next door to where I was (once I got the address from the store clerk), but they and everyone else were closed on Sunday afternoon, except for one rather pricey service.
By the time I was done with the insurance guy, the store manager and staff had come out to watch, and the manager tried to find a tire service for me, with a similar lack of luck, though I appreciate his effort. He agreed it would be okay to leave the car parked there overnight, not that we really had a choice.
So it seemed I’d have to spend the night here in Carlisle. I thought I’d have to schlep (or drive on my rims) over half a mile to the motels I’d seen in the other direction from the turnpike, but — the first stroke of good luck in this whole tale — I noticed a Hampton Inn right across the street. So I got a sandwich to go from the Wendy’s, schlepped my luggage over here and checked in. The clerk was sympathetic and got me a room at a discount, and is going to help me find a repair service for the morning. I hope they can get me fixed up and back on the road reasonably quickly, but considering I only made it about 1 hour’s worth out of a 10 to 11-hour trip, I probably won’t be able to get home until Tuesday. Luckily I set the DVR to record my Monday night shows just in case I was delayed.
So I’m feeling pretty rotten right now. This was such a stupid, avoidable accident, and the irony is that it only happened because I was trying to be safe by not driving in the rain.
But I’m reminding myself that the good news is, only the car was damaged. Neither I nor anybody else got hurt. This is an inconvenience, it will be expensive to fix, and it’s the end of what’s hitherto been an accident-free driving record, but it’s not a tragedy and it should be reparable. At worst I’ll be delayed an extra night or so. And at least I have a nice hotel room to stay in tonight — and I don’t have to wait until I get home to watch tonight’s Leverage episode. So there’s an upside.
Still… there were so many moments when I almost made a different decision. And it was such a little thing. I survived the worst downpour I’ve ever driven through, then got my car hobbled because I took a turn a little too fast. So yeah, I’m feeling pretty dumb.