Here's my not-so-fun story from yesterday.
My eldest daughter delayed her drive back to college until the last minute because of the weird southerly snowstorm that hit the Carolinas on Friday/Saturday. Rather than drive through the snow, she (wisely, it seemed at the time) decided to drive back Sunday.
OK, to back up a sec, we live in Northern Virginia near DC, and she goes to school in Wilmington, North Carolina; it's about a seven and a half hour drive if you stop for a quick meal in there somewhere. Her car is my "hobby" car, a twelve year-old Jeep Wrangler that I've given a modest lift and tire upgrade over the years. I baby that vehicle and insist that my daughter take it in for oil and fluid check-ups regularly; she did so on Thursday.
At about three in the afternoon, I'm at my other daughter's volleyball tournament and I get a call from the eldest. She tells me I need to go somewhere where I can hear properly because it's "really important". My blood goes cold immediately.
But it's not THAT bad, thankfully. She and the girl she was carpooling with are on the side of the road (I95). The Jeep's clutch has gone kind of wonky and it's stuck between gears. She can't do anything but coast. It's still daylight, but the temperature outside is 21F (-6C).
So I'm having her try various stuff over the phone and via texts, and nothing is working. I'm passing on AAA numbers and trying to figure out how to get a mechanic. She reports that a cop has shown up, which is great, I figure. Should have known better, of course: no interaction with the cops tends to end well in today's cops-must-get-paid environment. More on that later.
The cop calls the lone tow-guy for like 40 miles. I should add that they are pretty much at exactly the halfway mark between our house and her dorm, just outside of a little town called Emporia, fast on the Virginia side of the VA/NC border.
The tow-guy is fairly helpful. He tries to see if he can get the Jeep into gear and fails, passing along that he thinks it's probably a linkage issue since there is no smell of burned metal/rubber/fluid. He hauls the Jeep off to his repair shop and drops the two girls off at a Hampton Inn, who graciously allow them to camp out there for a few hours.
So I'm trying to figure out what to do. These girls are sitting four hours away and classes start the next morning. The kids are all of 19, so no one is going to rent them a car, I figure. On their own, they call up a bunch of friends from school, but no one is willing or able to drive seven hours (round trip) to pick them up.
So I'm pretty much left with a single option - I've got to drive down and get them. I figure I'll meet them in Emporia, rent a car, give them my car, and send them on their way. We can figure out what to do later.
All right, this is droning on, so let me cut to the chase. There are NO car rental places open on Sunday evening outside of Charlotte and Richmond. There was actually one in Rocky Mount NC that was open until 6PM, but I didn't even get to the kids until 6:30. We ended up having to drive an hour back north to Richmond Intl. Airport to get a car, and even for that one I had to game the system because they were out of short-term rentals. At about 9 PM the kids left Richmond in my car to get back to school in Wilmington, which they reached at about 12:30 in the morning.
Here's the cherry on top of the crap-pancake of the day. After calling the tow-truck, the cop gave my daughter a ticket because the Jeep's registration was expired. But it ISN'T expired: my daughter - on the side of an interstate with a broken car in freezing temperatures with a cop demanding paperwork - grabbed the first thing in the glove compartment she could find, and it was the old registration, not the new one. The thing is, the cop should have known that it wasn't expired because (a) the plates have the sticker that says that they're good until summer 2018 (in VA, your registration is tied to your emissions, which are tied to your plate-expiration stickers) and (b) he must have run the plates when he pulled up and his system would have told him then that the plates were good. Honestly, why do cops today even ask for the registration when they have that information on their goddamn screens before getting out of their cruiser? Plus, what dick cop gives a kid a ticket when they're broken down on the side of the road?
Sigh. Not a horrific experience compared to what could have happened. The end result will be a lot of driving, hopefully less than a $1000 of repair, rental, and gas... and probably me having to take a half-day in the next week or so to retrieve the Jeep. I'll call it a bargain. But stressful and annoying. And I'm not sure what to do about the ticket... I'm pretty sure that I could show up for the court-date with the registration in hand and get it dismissed, but that would be MORE driving and ANOTHER day off of work. It's not like I can't afford the fee; it just pisses me off.