Another Gap Adventure – Stuck on the Beltway
I was talking to my mom about yesterday’s post (she’s a fan, bless her heart) and reminded me of another memorable Gap related snafu – breaking down on the beltway at night at a point in time before cell phones were commonly used.
Since I was still in junior college when I was employed by The Gap, I worked more during nights and weekends. That’s pretty typical. Because I was my mother’s only child (and a girl), she insisted that I call her when I was leaving work so she’d know when to expect me to come home. I’d let the phone ring once at home, head to the car and make the thirty minute drive home.
One mild evening after we’d straightened up and counted out, I had just gotten onto the beltway when the elderly Datsun 810 station wagon (Ooooooo! Sexy!!!) I was driving began to loose power. I was already in the slow lane because I’d just gotten onto the highway so as soon as I felt the waning momentum, I drifted over to the shoulder.
After fiddling with the ignition and lights, I figured out that 1) I wasn’t going anywhere any time soon and 2) the power was limited so I could only use the headlights or the hazard lights, but not both at the same time. I decided the hazards made more sense and hoped that I wouldn’t have to sit there too long before someone from law enforcement came along to help.
I sat there for an hour before my “savior” rolled up to offer assistance. The first thing he said was that he’d seen me sitting there about an hour ago and had driven around his entire route before stopping to check out what was going on with the little blue station wagon. I bit my tongue about him letting me cool my heels for so long. I was just glad he had finally stopped.
The only thing he could do to help me, however, was to drop me at the closest police station (back towards the mall where I worked) so that I could at least use the phone to call home.
By this time my mother had realized that something was wrong and gotten on the road to see if she could find me. Down the beltway in the pre-midnight gloom she drove with her eyes peeled looking for the distinctive shape of my car. When she finally found it, I was gone and she had no idea where. I’m sure her heart dropped more than a little. In hind sight, I should have left a note on the windshield, but as with all our foibles, a series of missteps was SOP (standard operating procedure).
Anyway, I was at the police station trying repeatedly to call my mom. She was on the road worrying herself to death. Finally I called a neighbor of ours who was a good friend and a night owl to see if she could get a message to my mom when she got home. She promised to do so and was as good as her word.
My mom was finally able to call me at the police station and I gave her directions to pick me up. It turned out to be the distributor cap that was the issue with my car. We had it towed and fixed and I had the car back in no time. I learned a few lessons about what to do when stuck on the side of the road, though mobile phones have made life a whole lot easier, especially in emergency situations.
In the end, everything worked out and things could have been a whole lot worse. At least it wasn’t raining.