If I knew how bad things were going to get I probably never would have left the house on Friday morning.
I wrote up the whole incident about the two taxis on my way to pick up the rental car on Friday. I completely thought that would be the end of the bad streak. I left Wifey at home packing and I proceeded to the airport to get the car. I was operating on five hours of sleep and was additionally tired from the short run I had that morning (this is important and will factor in later). We packed up the car and heading into midtown, all on schedule.
Disaster #1 wasn’t much of a disaster but had the potential to royally mess things up. As I pulled over on a midtown side street to get Wifey’s cell phone I accidentally bumped into the car in front of me. I was going super slow (less than 5 mph), but with me still getting sued to contacts and the car I wasn’t used to driving it just kinda just happened. Of course, the driver was in the car: she was a fancy-looking lady who sounded European. She was understandably shocked (as were Wifey and I) and came out of her car saying “Why did you hit me?” “ How did you hit me?”
I explained to her that it was a rental car I had just picked up and wasn’t used to the hood. Looking at her bumper she started saying “do you see the damage?” I looked at the bumper, indeed there were some scratches, but most of them could not have been caused by the car I was driving—they looked to be mostly wear and tear from driving in the city. After trying to explain to her there was no way my compact car could have made those scratches in her SUV she gave up and sat back in her car.
This shook me up a bit, but after getting the phone I was feeling fine. By the time we got the phone it was 11a, and by the time we got to Jersey it already noon. Not a huge set back, but timing was starting to get tight and I was starting to get a little stressed—I could feel the knot starting to form in my stomach.
Disaster #2 wasn’t a disaster at all, but it was a very close call. We made a pit stop in Jersey to pick up a piece for our espresso maker and drop off some bags of clothes at Goodwill. While I was pulling into the back of the Goodwill to drop off bags a box truck was driving out of the parking lot, taking up the entire width of the lane. I had to stop and get back into the lane I was turning from, but unfortunately there were several cars behind me that decided to try to get around me quickly while I was making the turn. Horns ensued, but metal did not meet metal.
After a pit stop for lunch we hit the road for the long segment of the drive. It was around 2:15 when we got on the NJ Turnpike at New Brunswick. I figured we would make it to DC between 5p and 6p. Which was comfortably before the 8p closing time for packet pick-up. However, I still couldn’t shake the ball of nerves in my stomach.
Disaster #3 was a full-fledged nightmare. A couple miles on the Turnpike (aka, the roadway to hell) we hit a traffic jam, a massive one, enough to get me worried about making it to DC on time. We were stop and go for 45 minutes. At this point the food coma had fully set in so I was in a bit of a haze—the constant stop and go didn’t help. On top of that it was bright and sunny and since I’m new to contacts I didn’t have sunglasses, so my eyes were bothering me left and right. I got distracted for just long enough that I didn’t hit the brakes in time and crashed right into the guy in front of me.
Wifey jumped up and screamed, the hood bent up in the middle, and a weird noise started sounding from the engine. We pulled over to the left and I just wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t have bad luck like this. I don’t screw up like this.
We were fine so I got out of the car to check on the other driver. He was fine and his car didn’t even get a ding, but he could see the worry on my face. He called the cops and they showed up after about 20 minutes. I got a citation, but fortunately no one was hurt. But then things started to get bad.
The NJ Turnpike is a restricted zone, so only towing companies contracted by the police are allowed to pick you up. This means that the rental company (Budget) couldn’t tow the car from where it was. This also meant I got stuck paying for the tow from the Turnpike to the tow yard because we were forced to use someone other than Budget’s person. When the tow truck showed up (around 4:15) he took his time winching the car and getting it on the flat bed. Once at the tow yard we could finally tell Budget when to get us and the car from. They dispatched a tow truck to pick up a car from the Philly airport and bring it up to us outside of Trenton—the ETA was 7p. Remember that packet pickup? Yeah, that was ending at 8p.