Our family’s trips have often included some unusual unexpected happenings. For instance, late on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in 1986 we were returning from spending the holiday in Chicago, when about 3 hours from our home in Plattsburgh NY our car just stopped. A wonderful NY trooper came to our rescue first calling a local diner having them open up for us. And then he found a local garage who could look at our car. (The ride in the police car also added to the excitement of Kris’ 12th birthday celebration!) The mechanic actually loaned us his car to drive home and Bob returned to the garage the next day to get our car. Perhaps the idea of having four kids ages 2, 6, 8 and 12 in his garage prompted the mechanic’s generosity!

Then there was the time on New Years Day 2003 when the car we were driving suddenly filled with smoke! Bob pulled to the side of the expressway and we all jumped out getting far away from the car quite sure the car was going to explode at any moment. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we were driving on the Costa del Sol in Spain on our way to Malaga to return the rental car. As if by magic a gentleman pulled up behind us and told us, in perfect English, that he saw our predicament and had called a cab for us. When the cabbie pulled up we piled all of our belongings in the cab and left the rental car where it was. The cabbie never said a word but we all have imagined what he was thinking. When we got to Malaga, the office was closed and I left a letter explaining what had happened and where we left the car. We never heard from them again…no bill…no charges on our credit card.

Well, you get the idea.

Before we left Michigan this past December we got hooked on playing weekly trivia at a local bar with some close friends. So when we first got to DC we checked out area games. This past Tuesday night Bob, our son Patrick, and I had just tried a new game at a bar about a 15 minute drive from where we’re staying. The game ended and we were feeling quite proud of ourselves that we had finished in third place. When we got to the car I noticed that our back tire was flat…really flat! No problem I thought this is why we have AAA. Patrick pointed out that AAA has an app for trouble calls. So we put in the info, and got a response that someone would be out in about half an hour or about 11:00. Thinking they usually come faster than they predict we weren’t concerned. We waited!

After 15 minutes or so, we decided since our location in a city parking lot was difficult to describe, perhaps we should call. A very personable individual checked and said that she indeed saw our request; she took some clarifying information about our location and then told us someone would be out about 11:30. She couldn’t explain the time difference but it was what it was and we really didn’t have a choice. I did find it odd that she told us to have a good evening, but anyway… More waiting.

After about another ten minutes I received notification on my phone that a different garage was coming out and they’d be there about 12:01 am. (Not midnight but 12:01.) More waiting.

When about midnight a AAA car pulled into the parking lot I was a bit confused. Yes, we had reported a flat tire but I was expecting a tow truck. A very nice guy got out, and inquired if we knew where the spare tire was kept. Between Bob and the guy they figured out that on our mini-van you access the spare tire between the front seats. The AAA guy got out the wrench and set to work. After about 2 minutes he said that he couldn’t get the wrench to lower the tire, but did offer Pat the chance to try. The guy asked if we had used it recently, which thankfully we hadn’t but as a result, it wouldn’t budge! Since he had come in a car he called another garage and made arrangements for a tow truck to come. He told us they would tow us into DC to Mac’s a 24 hour tire service on the northeast side of town. He said he was sure that they’d be there within 45 minutes or a little before 1 am. Again, wishing us a good evening, he went on his way. And the waiting continued!

We were greatly relieved when the tow truck pulled in, and even more relieved that it had a cab that would fit the three of us saving us a cab fare. One of the advantages of needing a tow truck in the wee hours is that there was virtually no one on the streets of DC. We drove across the city at speeds I never believed possible. We arrived at Mac’s. He quickly set to work putting on a new tire and we were on our way by 1:30 am.

The downside of the night? We were out $125 for a new tire and by the time we got home at 2 am, Pat would have to get up for work in less than 5 hours. And the large rat that sauntered across the road in front of us downtown left a haunting imagine in my brain! But the plusses? The drive to the garage and back to our place was amazing! The monuments and Capitol are unbelievable when viewed under the lights. Driving around Dupont Circle without traffic is something everyone should be able to experience. We had met some really nice people! And we never would have had this experience if the unexpected hadn’t happened!