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Stalled!

One horrible night on the 405 freeway I experienced some car trouble with my Miata. I later wrote a blog on Myspace. That blog is what you'll find below.



First, my phone went dead last night. I was at work when the battery
started to fade, but I wasn't worried about it... until it died.
Suddenly I had this horrible feeling of dread creeping up inside. I
was off work and on my way home when it happened. It couldn't have
happened in a worse spot - or a better one. I was on the 405 Freeway
northbound and was on the cloverleaf loop heading to the 110 southbound.

My power steering went out suddenly. I was in the middle of the
cloverleaf turn, and quick thinking saved me from scraping the guard
rail. I muscled my way through. No sooner had I realized what was
going on when the "Check Engine" light came on. My first reaction to
that was "Well, duh." That never escaped my lips though, because
almost as suddenly, the entire car died. On the freeway. On a
freeway transition road between the two busiest freeways in the
area. ACK!

I did my best to coast to a safe spot. Just about out of the
cloverleaf, another car ahead of me suddenly slammed on their breaks,
causing me to break in my already coasting car. That did it. It
didn't make it another ten feet. I pulled the car as close to the
shoulder as I could - right into a pile of glass from where some
other poor motorist had been stranded and smacked by oncoming
traffic. Quickly, I hit the four-way flashers and watched traffic
behind me like a hawk... and when it was semi-clear, or as clear as I
knew it was likely to get at 9:00 at night, I ducked out of the car
and ran around to the bank. Remember, my car's a Miata - a fiberglass
death trap in this situation. I couldn't crawl over the e-break
without injuring myself and wasting valuable time, so I had to get
out of the drivers side. People all around were honking at me. I
was wearing a black mini-dress and black knee high 3 inch heeled
boots... on the freeway in the dark of night. I guess my knees,
hands, and face were all that were visible by oncoming traffic. I
probably scared a few people.

See, in Arkansas, someone would have pulled over to see if I was
ok. Here in California that's a foreign concept. I dodged for the
bridge that was the 405 going over top of the 110. I knew i was only
about a mile and a half away from the California Highway Patrol
office where Pete works, so I started to climb my way under that
bridge in these high heeled boots, nearly breaking my ankle in half.
The going was very slow, but there wasn't much help for it. I really
didn't want to take my boots off and walk through the glass and road
debris without any shoes on. It took me about 15 minutes to get from
one side of that bridge to the other though.

Finally on the other side, I knew the worst wasn't over yet. The
traffic was flowing at me from both sides all of a sudden when the
405 Southbound was transitioning to the 110 Southbound. I was caught
between lanes!!! Traffic was moving steadily and I couldn't see a
safe way across - except to dart across as quick as my little boots
would let me. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, I saw a
half of a shot and took off running for the other side, not looking
at the cars coming. If I had fallen, that would have been the end of
me. Adrenaline pumped, and my boots launched me over the railing on
the other side. Somehow I still landed on my feet, in a crouched
position on the side of the freeway, my left hand out behind me and
my right hand on the ground between my knees like some super human
Catwoman. Again, car horns were flaring around me, honking angrily
at the madman who had just crossed the freeway right in front of them.

I had only another mile to go before the exit I needed to take, had I
been in a car. I would have had to double back at least a half of a
mile once there, though. Traffic was still angrily honking at me for
walking along the freeway. Didn't these people know a stranded
motorist when they saw one? I was really worried about my well-being
at that point. Too may drunks had been known to go careening off of
that freeway, right where i was. I didn't like the idea of being a
pancake - so I started to jog. I ran the rest of the way to the CHP
office... freeway side. The fence looked like it might have a hole in
it near a corner, so I went down through the mud and ice plant to
look closer. If this was going to save me another three quarters of a
mile, I'd take the shortcut! I didn't like being on that freeway!!!

I was wrong about the hole in the fence. Slightly worn from the
adventure so far, I took desperate measures. I stood a little on the
embankment of the freeway closest to the fence and threw my coat over
the top. I was going to do what I had been known for as a kid and
shimmy over the fence. In a dress. I took one leap, landed with my
chest on my coat, and looked wildly around. Nobody was looking, and
it was just as well because I pathetically slipped backward in slow
motion. My feet touched the ground, and i knew there was no way I was
going up and over. I grabbed my coat back down. I just wasn't a
criminal - especially dressed like this.

A noise caught my ear. It sounded like a car door. I looked up the
hill at the freeway, wondering if someone had pulled up to check on
me - and saw nothing. Then I listened closer. I heard voices. The
CHP visitor parking lot was empty. It wasn't there, either. I looked
farther along the freeway and saw the CHP back lot there, right down
the hill from the closest call box I had seen since the adventure
started. A couple of guys were gassing up their car at the end of
shift. There was a good chance I knew these guys... so I launched
into action again. I plowed my way through the ice plant somehow as
steady as if I were running down a sidewalk, with every bit of the
speed sneakers would have allowed me.

I grabbed a hold of the rusty fence and hollered to the nearest tan
uniform I saw.

"Hello! I need help! Can you help me?" I made certain to keep my
voice even and steady so that I didn't scare them into drawing their
weapons or think that someone was out to kill me. The officer nearest
the fence heard me and peeked over the gas pump to see what was going
on. It was clear by the expression on his familiar face that he was
concerned I was some crack head wandering down the freeway in some
dazed state while under the influence of narcotics. I could see the
wheels turning. I thought i should clarify the situation... "I'm
Pete's girl! My car broke down!" Officer Brown then came around the
car and up to the fence.

"What are you doing over there?" I explained the situation. "Why
didn't you use the call box?" he asked when I finished the short
version.

"Well, I would have but that's the closest one." I pointed up the
hill at the box that was still about 10 yards down the freeway from
where I was.

The officers, the friends I see at Christmas Parties and special
events, took care of me. They had my car towed to the shop, they sent
a car around to pick me up and take me to the station, and they all
worried over me when I got there. I couldn't believe how kind they
all were being. I had quite the audience around me, all wanting to
know my story. One of the Sergeants came out of the sergeants office
to check on me - and it happened to be a very close friend of ours.
Dave walked me to the break room, turned "Get Smart" on the TV and
gave me a glass of water. Pete was on his way, I wouldn't have to
wait long. Finally the panic set in. My car was dead. I knew in my
heart that it was completely 100% dead. It wasn't going anywhere
anymore, no matter how much I love my convertible.

Pete's at the shop now trying to figure out what's going on with it.
I doubt the verdict is a good one, and I have no clue what I'll do -
but one day at a time, right?

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