Monday, February 23, 2009


I've had flat tires and other minor annoyances, but the only time I've ever had a car just quit right out from under me offered Dame Fortune the opportunity to provide at least partial compensation, and provide she did.

It was around midnight and I was on I-90, headed for Rogers Park from Chicago's northwest suburbs. All of a sudden everything on my instrument panel started blinking, my headlights dimmed, and the power steering went. The car started slowing and I steered what felt like a tank over to the right shoulder.

All lights disappeared and all electrical functions vanished. This was not on a weekend, and there was virtually no traffic on the highway, but about a mile ahead was a service area. I grabbed my briefcase, locked the car, and started for the oasis ahead, wondering where the state would have my car bedded down when I woke up in the morning. If I can just get to a phone, call a tow truck, and get back to the car first . . . .

I swear, I hadn't taken ten steps when I heard a vehicle slowing behind me. I turned to look just as an empty Yellow Cab passed me and pulled over to the shoulder, stopping a few feet in front of me.

A couple of minutes later we pulled into the service area. The cab driver waited while with the help of the Yellow Pages I found a towing service that would haul my car to the Rogers Park dealer from whom I had bought the car. I got a dispatcher, asked if I could get the car towed to Rogers Park and a lift to my home, a few blocks past the dealership. Done deal.

The cabbie drove me back to my car, was paid and tipped handsomely, and resumed his original journey. Perhaps a half hour later I was in the tow truck's cab, yukking it up with the driver.

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