Freudian Slips: AAA Roadside Assistance - The Waiting not Wading is the Hardest Part

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

August 09, 2005

AAA Roadside Assistance - The Waiting not Wading is the Hardest Part

God bowled in New Jersey on August 8, 2005.
I pulled into the Hess gas station today riding on fumes. I felt on top of the world. My car didn't run out of gas. I took out a $20.00 bill and waved it at the approaching female attendant.
"Please turn off your engine." she politely ordered.
Perhaps I am used to a female barking orders at me because I silenced the engine like never before. With the price of gas at $2.29 a gallon I gave the sarcastic reply."Fill it 1/4 of the way up."
The attendant responded with a defiant stare like she knows the price of gas is outrageously high too. Talk about fuel for thought. She waited for clarification with a hand on the hip.
"As far as $20.00 will take me." I obliged in a quieter tone.
She gasses me up and I donate the proceeds to a nameless Arab country that has the United States over a barrel literally and figuratively. I turned the key in the ignition but my car won't start. After about a half hour, the attendant returned to my immobile car and asked me if I wanted anymore gas.
"What are you kidding?" I say astonished.
I can't tell if she is providing comic relief until she smiles. "At least you're running on all cylinders." I joked.
I waited another half hour while periodically trying to start the car. The ignition choked an Ergh-Ergh-Ergh sound but refused to start. Without the air conditioner running, my pampered body sweltered like a clam in a clam bake. My shirt became drenched from the humidity. The attendant passed by the front of the car, hesitated for a moment, then waved goodbye to me. She crossed the busy circle with relative ease.
I began to talk to myself in the car. "She is done her shift and is walking home. She is going to beat me home. She is mocking me. Why that wisecracker."
But I had bigger problems that weren't so pedestrian. I called Automobile Association of America's emergency roadside assistance. I don't know about anyone else but I have AAA's number as a speed dial option on my cell phone.
"Where are you and the car at?"
"That's an easy one. Brooklawn, NJ. Brooklawn Circle. Hess gas station."
"Sir, we usually tow to gas stations. Don't they have a mechanic on duty?"
"No, they don't have a mechanic. Not since 1945. I'm not busting your balls trying to inconvenience you to tow a car that I could push a few feet. I need a legitimate tow off the premises."
She advised, "That will be 45 minutes."
"That long?"
"Unless you are blocking the gas pumps in which case I can tag this a priority."
"I'm definitely broken down in front of the gas pumps causing a slight disturbance of the peace in liberal terms of course."
"Of course. Okay, then the window is inside 45 minutes. You are a priority."
I checked the time on my cell phone and began waiting. Tick Tock. It gets to be so stifling hot inside my car that I get out and pace. More time passed. I look around at my surroundings. The gas station might not have a mechanic but I'll be darn, there is a restroom when you need it. I walked over to the unisex defacatorium but the door is locked. For no known reason, I gave a male attendant the Universal Sign Language sign for toilet.
He sees me from the distance. "It's out of order, buddy." I think of the irony that the first thing I did when I got out of bed this morning was plunger a stopped up toilet. Shit happens.
So now I am not only uncomfortably hot but my Jethro Clampant size lunch is working its way through my intestinal tract and I don't have a bathroom. I am thinking about the female attendant who is home probably sipping her third Budweiser by now. That is when I heard a voice behind me.
A trucker says to me. "Can you fill it up and I'll take a pack of Marlboro?"
"I don't work here." I denounced.
The case of mistaken identity causes me to retreat back inside my car. I glimpse a AAA flatbed truck rounding the circle and coming towards me. No car is on the bed. This has got to be my tow. I leave my car and run out to the road and wave down the driver. The indifferent driver gives me a who-are-you-kidding brush off wave and heads up Route 130 North.
I am seething at the absurdness. I call AAA headquarters. They check with the dispatcher. "Just a liittle longer." she insists. "Help is on the way."
A few minutes later, I see another AAA flatbed truck rounding the circle. About time. I have been flying standby for too long. I wave to my rescuer. He blows right by me without stopping. I feel like a jack ass waving to people on a merry-go-round. A huge storm cloud gathers to my left. I can feel the barometric pressure dropping as my blood pressure rises. I get back on the phone to AAA.
I hear the same voice on the other end of the receiver. "If this is priority service, what do the common folk settle for - same day service?"
"Who is this?"
"Joe Tornatore. I have been waiting for an hour and forty minutes. People are asking me to pump their gas. AAA trucks keep passing me by on the road while I am doing my best approximation of an SOS wave. Can you tell the dispatcher to alert drivers in the vicinity that there are no hitchhikers trolling the Brooklawn Circle? It's just one unhappy AAA member. Now, I can't stress this enough - an awful storm is heading this way, my bowels hurt, and my car still needs a tow. Do you copy?"
"I'm sorry about the delay. Hold on."
While every part of my body is on hold, a tow truck pulls up on the pumps next to me. His signage says Delran Mobile. I think nothing of it. He does not move from his parking space by the pumps. He does not leave the vehicle. He looks to be getting gas.
"Mr. Tornatore, the dispatcher insists the driver is at your location now."
"Wait a minute." I approach the tow truck from the driver side and see that the driver momentarily stopped his vehicle to talk to the dispatcher, while the dispatcher was talking to AAA who was also conferencing to me. The biggest travel agency in the country has four phones chirping and nobody can find a wildly waving man at one of the biggest intersections in South Jersey. Go figure.
"Disregard this call. He's finally here. I see you sent me a driver just about from North Jersey."
That's when the darkened skies opened up with a battery of lightning and rain. For five bucks, I earned a dry ride in the tow truck. The driver was personable and real cool. We talked a lot about the Wendy Williams radio show in between lightning bolts. About TWO inches of torrential rain fell in some areas in less than a half hour. The deluge reduced traffic to a snarl. My snarl. The storm got so bad that we talked about nothing else but the weather.
"I have never seen rain coming down so hard or lightning bolts so thick." The tow truck driver confessed.
"This is like a scene in the movie The Day After Tomorrow." I commented. "Seems like a smart move to have tipped you when we were in the eye of the storm."
"Wow, feel that rolling thunder!" he said with amazement.
"That was God bowling. Did you see that? He just got another strike. " I quip with play by play commentary.
Before we got to the auto repair shop, we ran into road closings, detours, and police activity. We crept by the Bally's gym which I knew from experience was taking on water right about now(see post dated July 28th Bally's Gym Never a Rainout ). I smirked at the watered down irony. The driver again admitted to his fear of lightning. I quoted lines from the movie The Day After Tomorrow to amuse myself. He never saw the movie so I all but convinced him I worked as a climatologist. Just about every driver had pulled over their car to the side of the road to wait out either the bad weather or the end of the world. My Ford Taurus might have been broken down and riding piggy but it passed every last car on the runway. It wasn't the end of the world but it sure as hell felt like it.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Rob Seifert said...

I definitely don't get toe truck dispatchers. I had the pleasure of breaking down last month and waited an hour and a half when I was told thirty minutes. It was like 105 degrees that day. When the guy finally gets there he hoists the van up, doesn't bother to chain it down and asks where we're going. I tell him thinking, "If he drops it, he bought it." He didn't drop it till we arrived at the house where he deftly dropped it neatly in a parking place.

Three days later I call for a tow again because, you guessed it, I can't fix it myself. Same deal. The tell me forty minutes and call me at sixty to tell me it will be fourty five more. The driver calls me at the fourty minute mark and says he's an hour out. The sent him from a city one hour away from me.

It boggles the mind.

RCS

1:39 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

robert,
we have something in common other than Lilly reading both of our blogs. sorry to hear towing outside of NJ is a waiting game too.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous et said...

WOW! What a trip you had. Well written narrative. Could it be because of only a broken belt? I enjoyed the telling of your discomfort. I felt the heat as well as the cramps. Been there, done that except for the waving at the circle.

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe,

Down here in the "Dirty South", your intestinal discomfort is called "prairie dogging". It is a visual description of your ailment...and still cracks me up whenever I hear it!

Mike

12:02 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Et,
it was a dead battery.

Mike,
praire dogging it is.

4:56 PM  
Blogger eatmisery said...

I cancelled my AAA membership for that very reason.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Eatmisery,
it is one thing to wait, another for empty tow trucks to pass you.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

My favorite is when I've waited 45 minutes for a tow and the driver shows up, in all his ass-crack glory, only to ask ME "so what's the problem?"
I usually respond by telling him "AAA doesn't pay me to assess the problem"

From the sounds of it, I'm awfully glad for you that you unstopped your toilet before you got home from that harrowing ride.

:)

9:34 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Weary,
As a bladder of fact, yes.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most tows run in excess of $100. Most AAA memberships are less than $50/year.Hmmm...wonder why the wait.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

anonymous,
i scoff at the implication that I was at the bottom of the food chain.

8:54 PM  

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