Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thank You MNDOT and 911 

When we Minnesotans drive in the winter, we assume our great snow removers will do their job and we can go merrily on our way. And, for the most part, that is true. However, once in awhile we need help - this is my story of 36 hours of major car problems.

I love driving manual transmission cars, just love it. Perhaps because I feel more in control, perhaps another reason but simply put, they are fun to drive. I'm pretty easy on clutches, too. I sold a previous car with 150,000 miles on it and the original clutch. My current car's first clutch lasted 65,000 miles, the second one, 109,000 miles. One might conclude, I'm ok with clutches.

Monday I'm tooling along 35E and notice with every shift, the odometer needle approaches the red line and hovers there before declining. Hmmmm Then I start smelling something burning. Hmmm. Then I discover I can't accelerate over 60 mph so I pull off the road. I call my husband, AAA, the dealer, and lay back for a nap. Along comes MNDOT. The driver had noticed me sleeping and stopped to check. I explained the situation; he marked my car with an orange X so others would know help was on the way. The great thing was he stopped and asked. My car gets towed to the dealer and clutch gets replaced.

Tuesday, I pick up my car with the new clutch - fine. I drive to my class four hours later. As I'm approaching the 35W SR 65 split heading into Minneapolis, I hear a very unusual, fluttering noise. I turn off the radio and the noise is still there. I try to steer and it's hard to turn the steering wheel. Looking for a place to get out of speeding traffic, I aim for the sand barrels between the two roads only to discover I had no breaks. OOOOOO, not good. I stay in the right lane, call 911 assuming that I'm going to need a cop car to protect me from getting rear-ended because I now have no acceleration, no brakes, a totally useless new clutch, minimal steering and am searching for some place to get off the road (there are no shoulders in that section of highway).

Very, not good. However, someone was watching me because just past the I94 overpass on SR 65, there's a 50' patch of grass which gratefully had been half plowed by MNDOT. I manage to coast to the snow and get off the road by 6" - but I'm off the road where cars are continuing to whiz by me. 911 connected me with a tow truck; I wait; call my students and suggest they wait (or we need to find another night for class). Tow truck arrives, takes me to my class and tows in the car. Unfortunately, 48 hours later we hear that I need a new engine.

While these two days' events were rather frustrating, MNDOT came through both times, as did 911. Thanks to all of you. I need a new car but no accidents, I didn't freeze, and all will be well.

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