Tag Archives: porcelain god

The Ride From Hell

28 Mar

What happens at a stay in the Twin Cities stays in the Twin Cities. But what happens on the ride home will stay with me forever. The ride from Hell in hellish heat while also feeling like Hell is a journey I will never forget. So here goes….

I awoke to a thunderous heaving sound coming from the bathroom of our luxury hotel room; I thought to myself, I definitely don’t remember getting back to the room last night, but that’s beside the point. It was the Friday before the July 4th holiday and we needed to get out of the cities before the holiday traffic descended upon us. Plus, my mom was watching my son Josh, and we needed to be back in time to get him from her house before she went to work at five that evening. Lazily and without much effort, I rolled myself to edge of the bed, pushed myself up, and felt a wave of nausea overcome me, Oh fuck, I think I’m still drunk, I thought. I dropped my feet to the floor with a thud and traipsed to the bathroom to find Tiffany, my best friend and partner in crime, keeled over the toilet expelling everything and nothing from her stomach into the porcelain god. Her blonde, normally straightened hair was a-skew and thrown haphazardly into a bun on top of her head with light curls falling down around her crème, white-colored face.

The porcelain God... every alcoholics BFF. 😉

She looked up at me with her normally shining green eyes which were now blood-shot and lifeless and said, “We have to go huh? Do you mind driving the first half home? I feel like there is a tiny midget in my stomach trying to shove himself out.”

That is how our drive home from the cities started out, and if it was any indication of how the rest of our journey would go, it was going to be the ride from Hell; I just hoped we would make it home on time.

I pulled out of the cavernous parking garage onto the way-too-sunny streets of downtown Minneapolis. With the sun glaring in my eyes, I gunned the gas on Tiffany’s black 2001 Mercury Sable sedan and merged into the Friday morning traffic downtown. I’m not sure what time we had gotten back to the hotel room last night, but it if I had to venture a guess, it was definitely after two in morning. I’m pretty sure that I still had a little bit of the buzz from the alcohol still flowing through my veins. Tiffany sat in the passenger seat with a brown paper bag and a gargantuan bottle of water, I could tell, trying desperately to pull herself together. I made a left at 24th street as the navigation on my phone instructed me to, and then for the next half-hour, a semi-coherent Tiffany and I spent our time trying to find our way to the 35-W freeway. Going up one street, and down the next, trying to differentiate between one way streets and two lane traffic. Each time we neared a freeway entrance, we would have to deviate from the direction because of the one-way streets.

We had finally made it onto the freeway after navigating through ghettos to ritzy parts of the city, perilously close to just giving up and sleeping in the car for another couple of hours. We were driving at a fast pace until just outside the Cities where we had to merge onto the I-94. At this point, the sun had made its full appearance and we were driving with the windows down because Tiff’s car was sans working air-conditioning; which was hell in the ninety two-degree summer heat.

In our planning for the drive home, we had allotted plenty of time, five hours to get home; which we thought was plenty, giving us time to stop and pee or whatever. But once we were packed on the freeway going a cool twenty-five miles per hour, I began to wonder if we would make it home on time. As we moved along – almost as slow as the shoddy synapses in my defunct-by-alcohol brain – I thought I saw smoke coming off the hood of Tiff’s car, but was too distracted by my anger at the pace of traffic. Five minutes later, I saw — without a doubt — thick white smoke coming from the left side of the hood of the car.

I looked frantically from the hood to the dash-mounted gauge console in the interior, what I saw frightened the living shit out of me – but thankfully not literally. The engine temperature gauge was not floating in between hot and cold like it normally would; it was nearly all the way to the top, in the ‘red zone’ of the gauge. With shaking hands, I yelped out to a half-asleep Tiffany, “Tiff! Oh my God, your car is smoking, I think it’s overheating!”

Tiffany said calmly, “I don’t think so.”

I took my right hand off the wheel and smacked her on the back of head, “Wake up dipshit! Seriously! We have to pull off the freeway!”

With that, Tiffany fully awoke and leaned over, glaring at me first, then looked at the gauge, “Holy shit,” she shouted, “Pull the fuck over!”

Pulling over was a difficult task in bumper to bumper traffic. Tiffany stuck half of her body out of the passenger-side window, looking very much like a delinquent searching for a thrill, and waved crazily at the cars in the next lane over to let us pull off the freeway. We were nowhere near an exit, so we had to pull onto the emergency lane on the right side of the freeway.

When we finally made it to the emergency lane, I threw the car into park and yanked the keys from the ignition. At this point, the hood was billowing smoke as if the engine was actually on fire; I screamed, “We have to get out of the car Tiff! Now!” I tossed the driver’s side door open like a rag doll, grabbed my cell-phone, and ran around to the passenger’s side just in time to see the engine throw up what looked like coolant fluid all over the side of the freeway. Tiffany stumbled out of the car and we both looked on in horror as the engine continued to smoke and expel the last of whatever fluid was flowing out.

Once the engine stopped smoking and the initial shock had worn off, I began thinking logically. I flung the rear passenger door open and dug around in my purse for my wallet, I knew I had my emergency road-side insurance card somewhere. Everything is going to be okay, I thought to myself. I pulled my wallet from my purse and hopped out of the car to find Tiffany keeled over and vomiting on the side of the freeway. “Classy,” I said to myself, both the car and its owner throwing up on the side of the freeway in bumper to bumper traffic.

Tiffany looked up at me sheepishly, “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

I chuckled, “Don’t apologize to me, I’ve seen you vom a million times, but you do have a rapt audience,” I retorted, pointing to the plethora of slowly moving cars on the freeway.

I drew my attention back to the phone in my right hand and the roadside assistance card in my left. It was then that the seriousness of our situation dawned on me, we were 250 miles from home, didn’t have a working vehicle, and were severely disabled due to our binge drinking the night before. And to top it off, we had to be home in time to pick up my son from Grandma’s house at five.

I dialed the phone number on my membership card, and was quickly regaled with the most delightful automated call-answer system. Great, I thought – cue heavy sarcasm, nothing is more efficient than a voice prompted automated menu for people who are stranded on the side of the road – because, of course, the noise from the freeway traffic wouldn’t interfere with my voice commands. After about fifteen minutes of trying to explain to a computer that I didn’t know where I was, I finally got in touch with a human being. The kind lady helped me to understand where in the hell we were and dispatched a tow truck – which was to arrive in about an hour.

The tow truck arrived in less than an hour, which was a feat, considering the amount of traffic. I breathed a sigh of relief as the very plump and oil-ridden man hopped from the cab of his flat-bed truck. I don’t think I had ever been so happy to see such an unattractive person in my life. After about twenty minutes, Tiff’s busted-ass Mercury was secured on the back of Roger’s tow. Roger told us we would have to hop in the cab with him for the drive.

“I’ll drop you girls at the nearest mechanic,” Roger said, as we walked towards the cab of the truck.

“Oh cool,” I said, before rethinking his statement, “Wait what?! We want to go home!” I shrieked.

“Well, I’d be happy to give you a tow home to mid-state, but that would probably cost about five-hundred dollars and your roadside assistance only covers fifty,” he said calmly.

The ride to the mechanics shop was filled with awkward silence that neither Tiff, nor I cared to fill; my buzz had finally worn off, and I was fully hung-over, so mindless chatter with a strange, plump man was last on my list of things I wanted to do.

Once we made it to the Goodyear tire shop in god-knows-where, Roger unloaded Tiff’s car and grabbed his clipboard for me to sign to authorize the charges to my cheap-as-hell, only covers fifty dollars worth of towing, roadside assistance account. I knew I should have sprung for AAA. Tiff and I walked into the shop and told the guys behind the counter our car had broken down. He said it would be at least an hour before they could even look at it. I looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter, shit, I thought, it’s already one o’clock.

After what seemed like decades, the Goodyear technician came out to the customer lounge area which looked more like a glorified trailer houses living room. I looked up from the old-school, built into a wood frame Television as he regaled us with the details of the damage; which didn’t take long because the only thing wrong was that the cooling fan wasn’t working properly.

“Listen, if you girls have to get going, we can top up your coolant fluid and send you on your way, the engine has completely cooled now, it should make it at least the rest of the way home.” the gentle looking man said.

After the car was pulled out, the technician explained to us two things. The first being, we would need to drive with the heater in the interior on full blast to help pull excess heat away from the engine. Great, as if the ninety-two degree heat wasn’t hellish enough, I thought. The second being, we should try to find an alternate route home. The freeways were packed, and if we weren’t driving fast enough for wind to blow through the grill in front, the engine would overheat again. I hoped that this plan of action would work.

Tiff and I hopped in the car and followed the signs to get back to the interstate. I looked at the time on my phone, three o’clock, there was still hope. We cruised along nicely for a while, granted traffic was still kind of sticky, but at least we were going 40mph. As we entered Rice, just past St. Cloud, traffic suddenly came to a halt. We crept along for about ten minutes before we noticed the engine temperature gauge start to creep up.

“Shit!” Tiff screamed, “We have to pull off.”

“Okay, okay… Well there’s a gas station up a little ways, if we can just make it there,” I said.

Tiff looked over at me devilishly, “Oh we will,” she said before she swerved off into the emergency lane and gunned the gas.

“Oh fuck, Tiff! Please don’t kill me!” I screamed.

Tiff drove past the practically parked cars on the freeway at about 35mph. My worry was drained from me as we screeched into a parking spot at the gas station. We hopped out of the car and parked our asses on the curb in front of the convenience store, and it was then I knew I wouldn’t be getting home to my son by five o’clock.

After calling almost all of the friends in my phonebook, I thought to call my friend Josh – yes same name as my son. Josh told me earlier that week that he was going to Moorhead for the weekend, so I figured he’d already left, but calling just in case didn’t hurt any. I dialed his number and waited patiently for him to answer. Once he did I explained to him what had happened to Tiff and I.

“Well I just left for Moorhead, I’m already on the road,” Josh said, and I felt crushed.

“It’s okay…” I said dejectedly.

“…but listen, I’m turning around right now, I can get to your mom’s by 4:45, is that okay? Don’t worry about time, just please get home safely; I can go to Moorhead any time.”

My face lit up and began to grin the brightest grin of my life. “Josh! You are the best friend a girl could ever ask for!” I told him. I felt such relief, as if going through all the bullshit with Tiff’s car wasn’t enough, I was worrying about getting home on time, and Josh swooped in like an angel and relieved me of one of my stresses.

We waited for a while for the car’s engine to cool, and once again took off onto the freeway. The rest of our drive home went much like the latter. Drive for a while, hit traffic, pull off the free way, wait for the engine to cool, and try again. It was the most exasperating cycle, but at least I knew my son was taken care of and we just needed to focus on making it home safe. Once we got to the 10 freeway in Motley, most of the traffic had died down, and we were in the home stretch, just twenty-four miles from home.

We made it home around seven o’clock in the evening, so what should have been a three hour drive ended up taking eight. The first order of business when I got home was to give Josh the biggest hug a human being could possibly give, and that I did.

When I was experiencing that hellish day, it seemed like the worst possible thing, and that no good could come from it. But I realized in that day that an event such as that has a way of bringing people closer together and creating stronger bonds between them. I am normally a cynical person, so I never would have imagined that a friend would drop everything just to help someone else. Since that day, Tiff and I’s friendship is stronger than ever and we know that we can count on each other no matter the hellish circumstance. Also, Josh, who was just a casual type friend before that day, is now one of my best friends, and I know that I can trust him and count on him no matter what.