Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Murphy's Law Pt. 2 - Lights On, Nobody's Home.

I will state that in this entry, it is very clear to me that the thing that set the dominoes in motion was entirely my fault, but in no way was deserving of the string of events that followed.

In 2005, I lived in a townhouse with 2 guys (Ben + Adam) and for a while, a friend of ours, Matt, was staying with us as his old lease had run out and he was heading back to the UK in a month or so.

On one of the summer weekends it was real hot and we decided to take a drive up to the cottage for a guys weekend. We were all biked a lot around the city, so we decided we would bring up our bikes to explore the area, bike through trails and into the bustling metropolis of Port Sydney (one variety store, a beach, a rapids, a gas station and a grocery store). So up we went (surprisingly) without a hitch. The van behaved itself and the stereo even performed admirably as well.

We arrived some time not long after dinner on the Friday night and got right into the water. Before we got a chance to get in, Adam asked me 'Can you roll up the windows in the van? I'm not comfortable leaving my bike in there unlocked.' This was reasonable, so I ran over to the van and rolled up the windows. Now, they were power windows, so I had to turn the key over to roll up the windows. I did that, then closed the door and instinctively hit the power lock on the way out. When I turned around I saw the lights and it dawned on me.

Being so far from cities with garages, I thought CAA might not come, but I gave them a call anyways. The call went something like this:

'CAA How can I help you?'
'I locked my keys in the car with the lights on.'
'Where are you located?'
'Port Sydney'
'Well, our guys in Huntsville and Bracebridge are on a tows right now, but I will send the Huntsville guy when he's done'
'Any idea how long because I don't think my battery will last long.'
'We will give you a call when he is 1/2 hour away'
'Okay, thanks.'

In the meantime, we tried everything. We pulled hard enough on the doors that if they had opened, I would have been left with a way worse problem to deal with. We tried to run a coat hanger down the window to unlock the door. We connected two coat hangers together and had two of us working the contraption while one shined a flashlight and the 4th was on the other side of the van hollering directions. Nothing worked.

We ditched the idea and headed for the water, keeping the cell phone nearby in case they called. I kept from drinking, even though I really wanted to, because I thought it would be better if I wasn't hammered when the guy showed up. Finally, about 2 hours later, I went back in to call CAA back to see what was going on.

'Hi, I called a couple hours ago and I'm just wondering what's going on, my battery is starting to fade.'
'Hmm let me see....Oh yes, we told the Bracebridge guy to go home because Huntsville is closer, but the Huntsville job ended up taking a really long time. I am so sorry this happened, we will make sure he is there very soon and we won't charge you one of your 4 calls for the year.'

About then I was feeling pretty good about the situation. Then, after another half hour or so, the guy finally showed up. We were all swimming at the time, but I headed up by myself when I saw the headlights. I went over and told him what happened and he went through the usual askings about if I was the vehicle owner and what year is it, etc. I guess he took a while asking those questions or something, because the other guys came to check what was going on. The guy already had his wedge in the window and was taking out his sneaky break-in tools when he saw my friends. He then changed his tone and grabbed the wedge from the window.

'I can't let you into this vehicle.'
'WHAT? Why?'
'You've been drinking and we are liable if we let you in and you go driving and crash the car.'
'I don't even have a beer in my hand. In fact, I avoided drinking so I could get this situation dealt with and it's been hours trying to get it sorted out.'

He already had everything packed up and was throwing it back in the truck at this point.

'If you won't let me in, how about we go stand all the way over there and you can open it up, take the keys OUT of the ignition, throw them on the seat and lock the doors again? That way at least my battery doesn't die and I can deal with the rest in the morning.'

He then proceeded to get in his truck, stare at me, lock his window and drive away. The lights were very dim and didn't take long to fade completely out. I called CAA back to complain, but they said there was nothing they could do and to call again in the morning. We proceeded to go swimming and get drunk.

In the morning I called back and they told me that this time it was indeed going to cost one of my four free calls for the year. The guy showed up (the other guy, luckily) and was very nice and laughed at the situation, saying he would have let me in. It took 40 minutes of battery charging to get it back in decent enough shape to start on its own.

We went on to enjoy the rest of the weekend at the cottage and around Port Sydney.

On our way home, we turned onto the highway and passed some very pretty girls with a broken down vehicle on the side of the road. One of us said 'If it weren't for the stupid weekend, I would so suggest stopping' and we all laughed. We made it about another kilometre or so before the van broke down. It wouldn't restart no matter what we tried. So again we called CAA. After a long while, the same guy who did help us came and said 'sorry, I took so long, I stopped to help these hot girls a little up the road.'

If you've ever had a broken-down vehicle with rear-wheel drive on the highway, you'll know that they won't tow it with a regular truck because they would have to turn around and hook it up on the back, which is too dangerous at highway speeds. So he had to call for a flatbed truck. The nearest one was in Barrie, about 2 hours away. We passed the time by trying to throw rocks at trees to see who could hit them, making a video documentary on burritos and we even considered walking back to our fellow highway break-downs. In the end though, I got really mad and kicked the van. Miraculously, it started. It was spewing black smoke at first, so we were hesitant to drive it, but we held a vote and decided it was worth the risk. At least we'd get closer to Barrie where the flatbed was.

In the end, the van survived another brush with vehicular doom and we made it safely back to Toronto.

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