Saturday, March 6, 2010

Charleston or Bust, or Both

Yesterday, everything was set. We had all our bags, we had all our
snacks, we had all our fancy music devices. We all high-fived each
other as we settled down inside a gold 2000 Volvo aptly dubbed “The
Professor.” Guided by the melodically ambiguous accent of the GPS, we
drove through West Philly, zoomed up onto the interstate, and were
cruising all the way to Maryland. Ah, Maryland. You, with your
crabcakes and paddleboats, how happy we were to be in your presence.
That is, until the car broke down. Not broke down so much as something
quite literally kerplunked out of the car, forcing us to pull over
onto the shoulder. We sat, dejected with a smoking hood on the side of
the road as the other cars zoomed by us. We tentatively opened the
hood of the car, as though magically our liberal arts educations would
teach us how to fix an engine.

Luckily for us, we didn’t have to wait long for someone more
skilled to help us out. Steven, one of several heroes to appear in
this story, walked over to us, a vision in neon green and lip rings.
He oozed mechanical know-how. He chatted to us for a bit about what
happened, and offered some advice. Suddenly, a second truck pulled
over to the side of the road.

“Ah shit,” Steven said, “here comes this mother-f*****.” (Since
this gentleman never introduced himself, for the purposes of this
story we shall refer to him as MF.)

MF was also wearing the neon green that seems to be customary of the
Maryland Transportation Authority. He ambled over, five feet one inch,
belly protruding into too much of our personal space.

“What’s going on here?” he asked. We relayed the story. MF and Steven
looked under the hood and felt around for a while. The rest of us
stood there, amazed at their engineering capabilities. Steven stood

“A piston fell out of your car. The engine is completely broke. You
can tow it back to Philadelphia but that will cost you.”

Apparently, pistons are what make the car go. Well, a lot of
things go into making a car go, but especially pistons. What were we
going to do? Who should we call? Most importantly, how were we going
to get to Miami?!

We did the only thing we could do. We got our iPhones out. Fingers
furiously flying across touch screens, we called AAA, the police, and
our parents. Steven and MF got on the phone with our parents. After
much heeming and hawing, we figured out what we were going to do. My
dad had given us his AAA card in case of emergencies (good thinking,
Dad). Unfortunately, AAA refused to come pick us up since Ali Souli
wasn’t in the car. That meant that Ali Souli had to drive from
Philadelphia to Maryland so we could get the car towed. As this was
sorted out, Hannah’s dad Brian (who happened to be in a Very Important
college meeting with Hannah’s younger sister Hilary) arranged for a
rental car for us in Baltimore. This was wonderful news! Things were
getting sorted out.

We settled back into the car, resting our fingers and
stress-eating Oreos. After about an hour of sitting in the car and
comforting each other, another truck pulled over. I got out of the car
to talk to him.

“I’m with AAA! I’m Dave! I’m not here to tow you guys! I’m here to tow
another car, but what is going on with you?! Let me fix it!”
Trying to match Dave’s enthusiasm, I replied, “Our car broke down! AAA
won’t come because my dad isn’t here!”

I handed him my AAA card, and he worked his magic. “A tow truck is
coming in 25 minutes!” he shouted, and zoomed off into the distance.
25 minutes later, a tow truck indeed showed up. Mike hooked up an
absurdly thin cable to the Volvo, and with the help of Kim, wheeled it
up. We all hopped up in the front of the car, and bounced along to the
Chesapeake House rest stop to meet Ali.

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