I want to depart a bit from my usual blogging to share a moment of my life with you.
I think everyone has had a weekend where things just don’t go right. This weekend has been mine. It started very well with my trip to Hagaman, New York where I met up with Mr. Gregg Cordero. Readers may be familiar with Gregg from my interview with him on the subject of real estate and the mortgage bailout crisis
. You may also be familiar with him because of the reason for my trip, the 1st Annual Madden J. Cordero Memorial
. I will be discussing that event in a separate post, but the event went well.
On my trip back home though things went a bit awry.
Halfway back to Binghamton the car died. At my best guess the car threw a rod. This happened at the gleeful location of the sign indicating 87 more miles to Binghamton on I-88 west. If you have driven past this spot it is remarkable only in that it is 38 miles from Oneonta and surrounded by a lot of nothing. The time was 8:30pm, so the sun was down and the temperature was likewise dropping. I believe it was less than 40 degrees at that moment.
I was with a friend, who had forgotten her cell phone at home. My cell phone had died while I was at the event. Traffic was infrequent enough that we had time to push the car to the shoulder of the road. Of the trucks and cars that did pass by at that point, none even slowed down. With the prospect of little traffic, no cops, no phone, and a lack of familiarity with the area, as the temperature continued to drop we decided to walk to the nearest town. The fact that it was severely dark, there are no lights in the area, nor any towns, and that fear of freezing waiting for a cop or the chance of being hit by a wayward driver were moderate all factored into the decision to walk.
I should mention that I was wearing a suit and overcoat. My friend was wearing a dress, thin sweater, and a mid-length leather jacket. Suffice to say we were cold. Oh, I was wearing a pair of 1970 leather half-boots, and she had on moderate heels. So neither of us had footwear appropriate for a long walk.
When I say the walk was long, I mean real long. On the far right shoulder of the road, unable to see more than 5 feet or so in front of us. And at the time we had no idea of how far we had to travel. We started off at about 9:15, and for the next hour and maybe a half some 25 cars and trucks passed us without pause. In the miles we covered we saw no indication of any turnoffs or exits nor that we would come to one at any point in the near-term. There are also no phone or emergency call phones that can be found along the road on some highways. Did I mention that it was cold and dropping temperature?
Finally 2 ladies did stop their car and asked us what we were doing. After learning of our situation, they thankfully decided to give us a ride.
The driver was a woman named Kara, and the passenger was her friend from Washington State Roseanne. We learned that the ladies were just returning home from visiting NYC and the 9/11 site, which Roseanne had never seen before. Both ladies had sons that were in the military and serving in Afghanistan. They were quite proud and also worried for their sons, as the fighting there was intense from what they conveyed to us.
They drove us some 15 minutes or more to Oneonta, and dropped us off at the Neptune Diner. The diner is a 24-hour location and quite nice. I would have taken pictures of the place, except the camera had also died. The ladies were very kind and tried to provide us with cash, which I kindly turned down as I did have money available to me. They had also allowed us the use of their cell phone to contact the daughter of my friend, so she could pick us up. (Thank goodness because I don’t really know many people in Binghamton and the few I do know were phone numbers in my cell that I could not retrieve.)
Once in the diner we were able to get something to eat, and coffee to warm us up. I actually had a Bailey’s and coffee. At this point we asked the staff to help us select a towing company to get the car. The staff not only provided us with a telephone book, but the name of a reliable (and relatively cheap I learned later) tow, the use of the manager’s cellphone (which he volunteered when we asked about a payphone) and a bit of pleasant conversation while we waited for everyone to arrive.
At about 11pm, Marcus Arellius – yes just like the gladiator from the movie of the same name – showed up for the keys to pick up the car. About another half hour later my friends’ daughter showed up. 15 minutes after that Marc was back with the car.The cost to tow a car from the middle of nowhere on the highway some 38 miles away? $194.
Cost of the meal? $17.50.
Cost of fixing the car? Still don’t know yet as the garage, Susquehanna Auto is closed on Sunday.
Having someone pick you up from the middle of the dark, cold, highway and get you to civilization? Priceless
Having people help you out and get you home? Priceless.
There is no feeling like being 2 Black people on a road and unsure if anyone will come to help you, or if they will pretend to help and endanger you more. There is no feeling like having people who have no need to help you step up and do so.
I thank Kara, Roseanne, the staff of the Neptune Diner, Marcus Areillus, and my friends’ daughter for all their help Saturday night. Had each of them not gone out of their way the hours it would have taken in that cold would have been extreme. There is a large question on how safe we would have been, either from the cold or a driver accidentally hitting us on the highway.
America is often a divided nation, based on racism, economic status, sex and other issues. But every so often, it’s refreshing to see when people that don’t have to help out do so.
And as a moment of caution to my readers I suggest the following:
Always charge your cell phone before a trip of any length.
Always have a couple of phone numbers of friends on a piece of paper in your wallet.
Always carry a spare battery for your electronic devices
Always have warm clothing in your car, and a spare set of sneakers or boots.
Always keep an extra $20 in your pocket or wallet whenever taking a trip.
If possible always have an extra credit card that is only for extreme emergencies.
These things may not sound like a big deal, but as I found out they can make an extreme difference.
And if you laughed at any point of this, it’s ok. No one wound up hurt, and everyone got home safely. The money is not fun to have to spend, but it could have cost more. So a laugh after the fact is not a big deal.
Labels: Binghamton New York, car towing, cell phone, Michael Vass, Neptune Diner, Oneonta