I drove for about 25 miles and got off the turnpike exit and waded my way through the peak hour evening traffic to stop at Germantown Pike-Plymouth Rd light. Switched on the CD to listen to my favorite songs. I even got into the mood to hum along and the light turned green. It was odd that I saw the brake light on; I knew I hadn’t put on the parking brake – why would I in the midst of heavy traffic? I pressed the gas pedal and the car wouldn’t move!! I tried again and again. I switched off the engine and tried. By this time I had heard just one honk. The car behind me realized as I put on my emergency blinkers. I could see a long line already piling up behind me. On Germantown Pike, which is a two lane road, traffic can be heavy during peak hours. The road leads to the Plymouth Meeting mall and Friday evenings are possibly a great time to head to the mall as it has some popular restaurants.
By this time, the cars passing me on either side with some whizzing past expressing their frustration, but surprisingly these expressions were very few. That speaks out well of the public – most of us know that when a car is broke on the middle of the road, it isn’t the driver’s fault or anyone’s for that matter. It just happens!
Without the engine starting, you get to realize what a miracle the technology of power steering is. It was so hard to turn the steering wheel even an inch!! The officer said I had to try harder and with two of them pushing, I was able to turn the wheel as the car started moving. It was a smart move on part of the officers to push the car back as I later realized they were pushing down the slope. Reflex nature comes in handy sometime in odd situations. As I was steering the vehicle I had to be careful so I would press the brake. This made the officer shout ‘No brakes!’. After the car was to the side, he approached me as jested ‘What were you trying to kill me?’. I said I was trying to be careful due to muscle memory! He checked my registration and license, then made sure I had called help and I finally shook his hand. It was a spectacle of which I was part of.
In the meantime, I had a couple of offering to help me push the car. I didn’t want to take any help there as I wanted a professional or the police to help me out. If they get injured because of the traffic not stopping on the other lanes, it would be a great risk. A young man in a SUV pulled over and jutted his help out asking if I wanted the car towed. I have heard of too many instances where someone offers to tow your car and then slaps a huge bill or one getting harassed later on. I didn’t want that risk either; when I asked if he was AAA certified, he said no. There was no reason to pursue a conversation with him. I then called my insurance company again and got assurance that they will send a tow truck but in another 60-75 minutes. I had no choice. Now that the car was to the side, I was at less risk too. I finally called my wife and told her asking her to pick me up when she is done with her work.
It was twilight and that time of the day always reminds me of a favorite hobby – photography. I wished I had thought about this earlier and snapped photos of my car while right in the middle of traffic. Anyway, some snaps later and of the surroundings, the tow truck guy called me. It took him 10 minutes to secure the car. Then he dropped me off to a nearby Starbucks – they are not supposed to leave one stranded by roadside, a very good policy.
What a day. One thing fortunate that worked to my favor was having a portable battery backup for my cell phone. I would have run the battery out making calls especially since the battery was down to 40% by the time I left the airport. The backup kept the phone running. Thanks Anker!