Tuesday, September 28, 2010

That kind of day

Saturday was That kind of day. You know the kind. The days that start with a very happy 2 year old and an infant both waking up before 6 am on a saturday when your wife is not feeling well. No biggy. Just feed the baby and put him back to bed, dress the toddler, kiss the wife, and go to The Palace for breakfast. Scrambled eggs, bacon (mmm-bacon), hash-browns, biscuits, and french toast later and both daddy and Emma are happy and fed. Order a sausage and cheese omelette with grits to-go and mommy is a happy camper, too.

Later in the morning, Emma already has cabin fever. After all, what can you expect after locking a toddler in the house for an hour and a half. Time to go out in the yard. Swing, kick a ball, explore the shed, and wait... Is that the lawn mower?! Tractor Rides!!!! This is where the first major event of the day occurs. Unbeknownst to me, my cell phone wriggled out of my pocket and fell on the ground during one of my laps of the back yard while Emma was steering. Not only that, but I ran over it with the back tire and crushed the screen. Further, I did not notice that the phone was missing from my pocket for several hours. More on that later...

Next, College Game Day. (Gotta have priorities). Thankfully, Emma loves singing and dancing to the Game Day song. At least I think she likes my singing and dancing to the Game Day song. She was laughing at least. That's gotta be worth something. Lunch time rolls around with no major issues and now it's nap time. Emma doesn't take naps at home (very well). Too much fun to have and it drives parents crazy when you protest naps. The boy has been pretty well behaved at this point so he's really no trouble. Mommy's head is killing her so she goes to take some medicine and a nap and will hopefully feel better by game time (7 pm vs Kentucky). So I have a great idea: Load both kids in the car, drive for a couple hours (Emma will surely fall asleep), return home fed and watch the game. It's a good plan. What could possibly go wrong?

We load up. Good so far. Start driving. Emma's having a little too much fun, but oh well, she's happy. Traffic gets very heavy on 74 as I head towards uptown Charlotte. Finally, Emma falls asleep and Renner wakes up. Time to pull over and feed the baby. Baby feeding done and he's on his way back to sleep. Time to feed daddy. Enter Cook Out. Cheeseburger, Cheerwine, and Chocolate Shake later and I'm a happy camper for a second time today. By the way, if my lunch selection were on Wheel of Fortune, C's and H's would be money and E's would be the best vowel value. R's too, I guess.

Anyway, we are nearing Charlotte and I change my route plans. Rather than turn around 5 miles outside of Uptown, I decide to go INTO Uptown. Emma is waking up from her brief nap at this point and is kind of awed by the tall buildings. I turn onto the main drag through town (Tryon ST) and everything is happy. Two minutes later, however, the second major event of my day happens. I'm slowly moving through traffic when my radio cuts off. I look at the display to find the words "Low Battery". Uh-Oh. This is most likely a sign my alternator has died and now my battery is dying with no generator to recharge it. I have recently replaced the alternator in this vehicle so it should not be dying now. The first thing I do is reach for my cell phone...

Remember major event one? No phone. I'm in a car that has minutes to live with two kids in the back 30 miles from home and I am still VERY unfamiliar with the Uptown area of Charlotte. I decide my first goal is get out of the tall buildings. There is no parking here and this really is not a good place to break down. Over the next 5 minutes or so, my car's systems start shutting down. First, the Anti-Lock Break System (ABS), then the traction control system, then the air conditioning. I get out of the tall building area and make a left on a road that I recognize because it runs past the hospital where Emma was born and my gauges on my dash stop working. The car is still running, but I do not have enough power to keep my speedometer working. I am making my last ditch plans now and look for the closest safe-looking parking lot at a business that is still open. This ends up being Long's Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service.

I turn off the car (I can't go any further any way because the engine had started stuttering by that point) and enter the store with both kids 8 minutes before they closed. They were kind enough to let me use their phone so I called Krista and left her a message because she was still asleep and then I called a cab. I decided at this point that the most likely culprit was my alternator. I didn't want to pay for a tow all the way back to Monroe and definitely didn't want to pay for a taxi all the way back to Monroe (because I had the kids). I decided my best way out was to buy a new battery for the car and swap the old one out and then drive on the strength of a new battery and see how far I got. At the very least, I figured I could make it to the Matthews area where we have friends that I could drop in on in an emergency.

The cab driver showed up and was definitely NOT a kid person. Renner was screaming at this point. He had been in the carseat for 1.5 hours at this point he was hungry and ready to eat. I load both car seats into the back of the cab (mini-van variety) and we head out. We argued a bit about where to go and I lost (somehow, even though I'm the customer). If I was a little more sure of my surroundings/directionality, I would have gotten out immediately and asked for someone else. He was really quite unpleasant from the start. The argument centered on whether to go to South BLVD or Central AVE. I knew South BLVD was close and I knew I would eventually find what I needed (even if it was 10 miles away). I knew nothing about Central AVE. Turns out, I was right. South BLVD was almost walking distance away and within 1.5 miles total distance on South BLVD was an Autozone. Central AVE was 5 miles away and he chose to go through downtown. Clearly he was trying to raise the price for the fare. We finally found another Autozone (thankfully they are almost as prevalent as Starbucks) and I bought a batter, a crescent wrench, and a multi-screw driver. The trip TO the Autozone was pretty easy for everyone in the car.

On the way back, however, Renner was screaming bloody murder the whole way. The driver decided to be cute again and drove all the way back to Tryon to return. He immediately got us caught in stand-still downtown traffic at 5 pm on a saturday prior to a home game. It easily added 15 minutes to the return trip. He then had the nerve to ask me to climb in the back to calm Renner down. I then calmly (mostly, with Emma watching) informed him that he chose the long way back, the baby would not stop screaming until we got back, and that he will have to deal with the cards he dealt himself. We got back to the car finally, paid and sent the taxi away. I swapped the battery without incident and drove home and only ended up losing about 75 minutes total. We made it home in time to watch the Gators beat Kentucky.

As for the car, the new alternator had died. Thankfully, I bought one with a lifetime warranty and was able to swap it out for a new one free of charge. Unfortunately, I had to remove the old one on Sunday during the first rain storm to hit our area in months. Today, the car is back to running, we've returned the minivan that we borrowed from some friends (Thanks, guys), and even managed to find my phone outside.

Finding my phone at this point doesn't help much though. Mainly due to the 3 day rain storm we just went through. Also, the cracked screen. And I have already put in my order for a new phone at work (technically, I was past due anyway). Unfortunately, I work at a company that rewards lost cell phones with blackberrys. Email will find me all hours of the day and night no matter where I am. I knew it was coming with my change in job title coming in the next several weeks, but I was hoping to hold onto my non-smart phone a few more weeks.

Well, that's it. That was my Saturday (and part of my Sunday and a smaller amount of my Monday and Tuesday). From Emma's perspective, it was a fun adventure. From Renner's perspective, I am the worst father ever for making him sit in the car seat so long. And mommy is just glad we are all home safe and sound. I am too for that matter.


Nikki Kindinger said...

We had almost the same thing happen about 2 weeks ago-- alternator died, so systems in the minivan just kept shutting down until it died completely with me, Rowan and Penny 2 miles from home in the middle of a 1 million degree weekday and (what I thought) was going to be a 5 minute trip to Walgreens. Called triple A-- did you know that tow truck drivers can only transport 2 people? Brian was in a meeting, so he had his work buddy Dan come and get the kids, take them home and feed them, while I had to stay with the minivan until the tow guy gets there. 3 hours later, I get home. Car problems suck! Glad to see yours got worked out relatively quickly!

The Hines Family said...

I can't even imagine! Glad your car is back up and running!