I was going to feel bad about writing yesterday, but then one of my worst nightmares materialized in front of me, so I have chosen to forgive myself.
Fact 1: The best thing about renting cars for work is that you don’t have to worry about your old, third-hand car breaking down on you. Ahh, security.
Fact 2: Underwater tunnels get congested at rush hour. The worst violation of road law in areas where these are common is to do anything to cause an increase in congestion.
THE STORY: Realizing that I had to drive seven hours to my hotel, across several states, I formed a nice, relaxed plan to leave in the early afternoon. There was a bit of a line at the car rental location, and I had to pick up a couple things at home, but all in all, I was on the road just a bit after I had planned to be.
Cruisin’. Spotify jammin’ on my iPod, Spring shows up just in time for the windows to fall, very little traffic for this time of day. Even the ridiculous $13 toll can’t bring me down today.
I’m sailing across the first bridge section of the extraordinarily long bridge-tunnel, quite impressed with the smoothness of Hyundai Elantra. Excepting the fact that I haven’t yet figured out the Bluetooth, nothing seems amiss about the car… until the flicker of the oil light. It doesn’t come on, per se, and it doesn’t really flash. It just shows up – faintly – for mere instants before disappearing again.
Now, my own car likes to flash lots of lights for no reason at all, so I’m curious, but not immediately alarmed. However, one of my coworkers had car trouble on the road not five days before, so I resolved to check it out at a gas station once I reached the other side of the 18-mile-long bridge and tunnel. (Just in case)
In my defense, what else could I have done?
I was on a bridge with no real shoulder.
The bridge’s beauty was unparalleled. I glanced over at the horizon where the sun was just beginning to touch the water’s edge, and it was gorgeous.
I remember thinking how “Instagrammable” it was.
The bridge could stretch on for those miles, but I sat contemplating the vast battleships and barges that lined the shipyards nearby, waiting to sail through the gaps that were made by the underwater traffic tunnels.
A majestic thought.
Smiling at the very commercial thought of the restaurant that sat on top of the first tunnel, the Elantra’s headlights pierced the darkness as I reminded myself that the childhood habit of holding one’s breath through tunnels was an unwise practice for drivers. A good reminder, too, in this case, for even Houdini didn’t boast lungs as big as were needed…
As I broke what would have been surface level outside, the radio cut out as usual when the frequency couldn’t reach so far underwater. This was normal, though for a moment, it numbed me to the oddity that the radio wasn’t the only part of the car cutting out. Suddenly, as we approached the incline of the tunnel, my right foot felt the Elantra beneath me as the gas pedal sunk useless to the floor mat. I gaped in horror as the odometer sank from fifty, forty, twenty….
“Oh God. No no no. Please. God. No. PleaseLordinHeavenwhatishappeninghelpmenow.”
On that fun cliffhanger, my eyelids are drooping, and I’m off to sleep. Part 2 tomorrow; you’ll get to see if I survived. 😉