Charlotte Roadway Blues

We’ve gotten a lot of rain over the past couple of days in Charlotte, which has led to an unfortunate side-effect: many roads in and around Center City became FLOODED and could not be driven on. Naturally this led to insane traffic snarls in the early evening, with some major roads blocked off by police cars and others crammed solid with rerouted traffic.

For Charlotte residents, here’s some added detail: a car sliding out of control on wet roads slammed into a utility pole on Independence Blvd. right off of 277 Uptown… so the busiest intersection leading in and out of Center City was blocked off for several hours last night. All in all there were at least thirty accidents reported last night due to rain-soaked roads.

This was the beginning of my nightmare last night.

First, we were stuck in traffic for nearly an hour on the way home from a friend’s house. It should’ve taken maybe 10-15 minutes in normal traffic, and instead, after forty-five minutes we still hadn’t made it all the way home. And as luck would have it, the car started overheating while idling in stop-and-go traffic.

Less than a mile from home, smoke started coming out of the engine. So much for my hopes that we’d at least get the car HOME before it overheated! We frantically pulled over into an empty parking lot and shut the car off. I called AAA and summoned a tow truck, but was warned that the average time ’til arrival was ninety minutes, and that I needed to stay with the car and wait.

Fuck that. We called a neighbor to come pick us up. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication and traffic snarls, it took over an hour before he arrived… And once he had us nearly home, we realized we’d forgotten something important in the car and had to turn around to go get it.

At this point I nearly decided to just wait in the car for the tow truck, as we were only about fifteen minutes away from the ninety-minute estimate. In the end I decided against it, as I was only a mile away and could get up here in a hurry when the tow truck gave its “we’re ten minutes away” warning.

Then when I got home, I looked up the locations for Midas online and discovered that the location AAA had quoted me might actually be out of business. A quick call to AAA took care of moving delivery to a different location, but I also confirmed that no tow truck had been assigned yet. They promised to have someone call me when a driver was assigned, so I could at least know what to expect.

An hour later, I finally got a call that there was a driver assigned and that he was a mile away from the car. My helpful neighbor kindly drove me back up there so I could sign the papers and all that… And we ended up waiting for over twenty minutes, as the “mile away” turned out to be a bit misleading. The driver needed to stop and get gas, and then got good ‘n lost looking for us. He passed us twice before finally seeing our frantic headlight flashing.

Three hours, from phone call to arrival. I did confirm that the car was safely delivered to Midas last night, but now I’m anxiously waiting to find out how bad the repair bill is going to be. And naturally there are other things that need to be taken care of beyond the overheating issue — brakes need work, it’s time for my annual inspection, and the heat doesn’t seem to be working…

Sometimes a bicycle really seems like an appealing alternative, y’know?

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