Now, why’s the AC dying again? We just fixed it. Weird. Car’s sluggish, too.

Mph: 70. 60. 50. 45.

Ok. Gotta pull over. I run the hazard lights and crawl over two lanes to the shoulder – just in time. The Sienna gives out and it takes me a minute to realize the hood’s smoking. My eyes fall to the cubbyhole where my phone usually sits. Great. The day I run out of the house without it. Noted, husband. Noted. I can make out Pyrite Exit, 1/2 Mile up the freeway and all I can do is hope for a gas station there. Collecting my keys, hat, and the little water I have, I don’t go five yards before deciding, “Not in these sandals. Not in this sun.” Turning back toward the car, I do the only thing left to get to a phone. I stick out my thumb. As the minutes wear on, I’m not sure what strikes in me greater wonder. Finding myself “hitchhiking” or seeing that nobody was stopping. I am also a little nervous about who might want to come to the aid of a lone woman.

Before I can worry too much, a car horn interjects and I spin to see a beat-up truck behind the fence. Cozy in the front, three Latino men who look to be in their twenties wave. Apply every politically incorrect stereotype and judge by appearances, and these were not guys a sober helpless female would turn to for help. Here goes nothing. My New York sense of adventure moves me forward.

“Hi. Can you please call my husband, tell him I’m stuck on the 60 and need AAA?”

The men smile and three cell phones appear in a flash. The guy nearest me in Shotgun beats his friends to it and waiting through the rings, apologetically swings a tattooed arm to keep his cigarette smoke from reaching me.

“Honey, it’s me!” I call out to prove the call is no prank.

I’m told help is on the way and decline the men’s offer to stay with me. As they pull away, the guys point behind me and looking back toward the freeway I see a young man in something like a Corvette smiling as if to ask, “Anything I can do?”

“Thank you so much but my husband is coming.” I nod my thanks and in a few minutes make out a police car in the distance. California Highway Patrol stops to make sure I’m okay and offers the cooled vehicle for a waiting room but I’m not feeling venturesome enough to climb into the backseat I associate with a jail cell. And then my knight in shining armor pulls up.


Later: “When I heard a man’s voice on the line saying, ‘Your wife…’ your life flashed before my eyes. I thought I’d lost you and saw myself putting T in school. And writing on your blog.

Over my dead body.



136 thoughts on “STRANDED

  1. I was living in a downtown Detroit slum apartment, complete with cockroaches and a garden hose I ran from the kitchen to the tub where I’d nailed up a portable shower from Sears. Yeah, it was THAT kind of neighborhood. Street parking was dicey, so I paid a monthly fee to park my crumbling ’68 Rambler station wagon in a gravel lot a couple blocks away. You know; the one with the chain and padlock securing the hood so I wouldn’t get ANOTHER battery stolen.

    Coming home from church one Sunday, I’m met in said parking lot by two men who asked if I had jumper cables they could borrow. They must have known jumper cables were de rigor for a beater like that.

    The devil on my left shoulder said, “Dude! This is downtown Detroit. Say no or you’ll never see those cables again!”

    The angel said, “Jesus said whoever gave a drink to someone in need gave it to Him. Same deal on jumper cables.”

    A couple hours later, guess who knocks on my apartment door? Two guys…with my cables!

    • There’s the vulnerability as a woman. As grateful as I was, I told that second driver my HUSBAND was on his way. And hubby was glad to hear about the first group of men. Reminded him of his own experience on the road when he was a boy with his father and the saving mercy of a Mexican man.

  2. So good to hear, D. One that you are okay, but second, in our time of screaming stereotypes, you have an experience that helps counter them. Now let’s talk about your unwillingness to walk a half mile… πŸ™‚ –Curt

  3. I like how you presented this as I felt like I felt panicked for you, as if I was the one stranded on the side of the road with few options. Nice to see it all worked out and the good side of humanity came through for you.

    Hope you didn’t get too much grief for leaving the cell phone at home. πŸ˜‰

  4. Every now and then, life throws something our way that at first is a royal pain but in the end, it is a bit fortuitous. And yes, rule #1 NEVER forget your phone, I’m with hubby here πŸ™‚ Best part of reading this was sharing your experience and the feeling/understanding that there are a lot of good people around from all different backgrounds ~ and they can help get anyone through the day. I must admit I felt a little uncomfortable when you stuck out your thumb to hitchhike – a woman alone on a highway hitchhiking, too many scary stories. Your husbands words at the end were made better with your perfect last words πŸ™‚

      • Very true, it seems you had angels all around. I do have to say it would have been kind of fun to see your hubby flail with a post or two πŸ™‚ When can we expect a guest post from him?

      • *Changes topic, hopes he forgets the question*
        After Circling the Sun (historical fiction bio I’d mentioned), I checked out West With the Night, the original memoir about aviatrix and horse trainer Beryl Markham. Like many dissenters, I don’t believe she wrote the book, at least not without the help of her last husband, but the experiences and accounts are hers and it is extraordinarily written. I read the nail-biting description of the horse race to T and he was enthralled. His eyes changed as he followed the narration. And he guessed which horse would win. =) Just had to share. πŸ˜‰

      • Question forgotten…as I do want to check this book out…still have not, but on my list. I am a big historical-fiction fan, Irving Stone starting it off for me so long ago, and the life/world of Beryl Markham is just the type of story that fascinates me. πŸ™‚

    • HA. They beat down Lucifer’s gang, right? It was actually car death. The engine gave out. The heart transplant amounted to a new car. I might’ve not made it over to the shoulder from the far left. It all fell into place under the circumstances.

  5. Gee that’s a bad feeling to be stranded on the highway. I’m glad those 3 knights in shinning armor turned up. Thank God for concerned and helpful people. And I’m so glad that your husband arrived quickly.

  6. Quite the ordeal you had there, Diana! I guess being a wife and homeschooling mom weren’t exciting enough for you. You had to go have this “fantastic” adventure!

    Don’t you love how being a New Yorker gives you the courage to do the unthinkable in a pinch? Lol

  7. Hilarious from start to finish. Very strong writing. Sounds like luck was on your side that steamy hot day. Everyone just wanted to help. But you can never, ever be too careful. Your husband sounded serious about writing on your blog πŸ˜€

    • It was no trip to the amusement park, for sure. And the minivan needed a heart transplant, a new engine, that set us back $$$. But things couldn’t have gone better aside from that! I do half-regret not having tried the backseat of the police car. =) Writing fodder.

  8. You wear the “mommy shield!” where nothing bad can happen to us while we are in the midst of raising children to become self-sufficient grown adults. (Don’t get me wrong, I know that the mommy shield doesn’t really exist, but I did like to invoke it when my boys were growing up!)

  9. Glad you’re okay and hearing that , from beyond, you still wouldn’t let your husband write your blog made me laugh! I so want to have the two of you over for dinner some time.
    ( And update on the NYC daughter: She’s done subleasing – got approved for a 2 bedroom condo in East Harlem and moves in soon with an amazing friend from high school )

    • “so want to have the two of you over for dinner some time” LOL. We’ve been told we’re both off the bell curve. Yin/Yang. I am so happy for the update, Susan. That’s wonderful that she can settle in with such a good friend. I know she’s having a ball.


    • We got her used and very good taken care of and she had over 250K miles. The replacemt engine, 90K. =) There was some question as to whether I aggravated or caused the expiration. I “kept driving” it when I should’ve stopped right away. The way I remember things (and I have no problem owning up), I didn’t think I’d done her in. Oh well!

      • Their V6 did have issues with clogged oil passages due to using non-synthetic oil. Sometimes even the manufacturers don’t know what’s best for their cars. 250000 is very respectable, she was just burnt up in the California sun… Time to take to walk from service into sales πŸ˜‰

  10. You brave soul. Showing a little faith in humanity takes a lot of courage these days. Glad it all turned out well–and am wondering what flavor a guest column from the hubby would bring to your blog? Just sayin’. πŸ™‚

  11. My heart was in my mouth when I started reading this post. You naughty girl – how could you use your thumb! πŸ‘πŸ» Lol!

    Logically speaking, you had to have survived it but it was still suspenseful all the same. So glad it all worked out. Loved your parting shot to your other half! πŸ˜‰

  12. Beautifully told. I feel I am missing something here:

    “…in a few minutes make out a police car in the distance. California Highway Patrol stops to make sure I’m okay and offers the cooled vehicle for a waiting room but I’m not feeling venturesome enough to climb into a jail cell.”

    Jail cell?

  13. What a story Diana! I would have been petrified, you’re a warrior woman! And of courseeeeeeeeee you left your cell phone at home that day! Glad you’re safe and sound! ❀

  14. I am sure poor Hubby almost had a hard attack… πŸ˜‰ Good to hear you are safe. And good to hear that this adventure showed the nice side of human beings. This could also have developed into a horror movie… but thankfully it didn’t.

  15. So frightening when this happens. My sister broke down on a major highway on her way home after an art retreat we were attending and her husband had no car to come save her no taxis available in a small town and no one they knew to help as they had just moved to neighbourhood. The road assistance was slow and we talked to her on the phone all night back and fourth so she did not feel alone in the dark. We also like her husband rang the road assistance many times explaining she was all alone and needed to get home to her baby. Im glad you were safe. We all breathed a sigh of relief when my sister finally got home to her little baby and husband.

  16. I chanced on this post and…. kept reading till the very end (a difficult thing for me to do, these days) but sadly I couldn’t find out what happened to the car! I hope it wasn’t anything major?


    P.S: That last punch line was cool (but… wondering what happened to the car)!

  17. Hi Diana,

    I laughed so hard @ “over my dead body”

    I know that feeling when a strange person calls one’s phone and starts the sentence mentioning one’s loved one. One expects the worst and then heaves a sigh of relief.

    Love makes us anxious, it makes us care…

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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