Disaster Morning. Death, Heat, Misery, McDonalds, The Whole Thing Devdas

This is one of those traditional “blog” style posts, where I talk about my life in an amusing way, instead of one of the more “Indian film news and analysis website” posts, where I am all professional and stuff.  Be warned!

The plan for today was already a bit complicated.  I was going to drive to work with Dog Hazel and luggage, leave in the middle of the morning to go see Grandpa and Mom and Dad and my sister when they had coffee near me in downtown, then go back to work for the rest of the day, and then leave work and drive straight to the family vacation home and have two days off in the middle of the week to spend with my sister and my parents.

(This was supposed to be my day.  Joyous happy leaving for vacation)

So, I left for work in the car, with 4 bags and a dog.  And I left early so I would have time to stop off and get coffee.  I didn’t have quite as much time as I thought, so I needed a drive through, and instead of doing the Starbucks drive through where there was already a massive line, I decided to do the McDonald’s one where the coffee is worse but the line is faster (these things are probably related).

(If I had been at this McDonalds, I am sure the hockey team would have helped me)

As I was pulling up to the speaker at the drive through, I noticed I was having a hard time using the button to roll down my window, and also my music was suddenly playing really staticy from the radio.  So I ignored it and opened the door to talk to the speaker and figured I would figure it out later.  I got my coffee, paid, got to the exit of the drive through right before the turn onto the busy road to work, and my car suddenly blinked frantically in all its lights and then completely died.

(Very similar to Shahrukh here)

My first thought was that I was out of gas.  Because I remembered the gauge had been a little low, although it seemed as though I would have noticed if it dropped below a quarter tank.  And now of course the car was just a mass of dead metal, so no way to check.  Working on the gas assumption, I jumped out of the car and ran in front of the honking chain of cars backed up behind me to the service station next door.  Who were mildly sympathetic, but said they didn’t have a gas can I could borrow.  So then I ran to the second service station, which was closed.  So then I ran to the third one, where the nice older lady and the nice older garage attendant were both very sympathetic and gently reminded me that I should always have at least a quarter tank of gas, and then sent the young guy back with me with a can of gas.

(He did not look like Prithviraj, unfortunately)

Back to the car where, thank goodness, the folks behind me had started to madly veer around up onto the curb in order to get out of the drive through lane and on to the road without running me over.  Gas in the tank (as I said “thank you thank you thank you” over and over again), and then I started it up, it ran for 5 seconds, and immediately died again.  Thank goodness, the young guy from the garage was still there, told me I probably needed a jump, wait (what else was I going to do?) and he would get the jumper from the garage.  So I wait, he comes back shockingly fast, gives me a jump, it runs for 10 seconds and dies.  He gives me another jump and instructions on how to ease onto the gas and so on, and I finally am able to hit the road.

(He did not do a little song and dance for me.  American mechanics don’t have half the flare that desi ones do)

Feeling cocky, I drive to work.  I can see the gas is now at a quarter tank (should have been a warning sign, because that is definitely not how much he put in, which means it WASN’T the gas after all.  But I’m dumb and didn’t realize that).  I figure, I just need to drive for a bit and recharge the battery, all will be good.  I get to the parking garage at work, position the car to pull into a space, and it completely dies on me again.  Thereby blocking the entire half of the garage as it is positioned exactly across the center of the aisle.

(Like Dev reaching just to Paro’s door step and then dying, so was my car, reaching the very entrance to the parking spot, and dying just before entering it)

So then I wake up Dog Hazel (who has slept through this whole thing, sitting in the back seat), run into work and beg my friend for help pushing the car at least into a space.  She suggests I knock on my boss’s door, he is the nicest man in the world and goes out immediately to help me push and I get all nice into a space.  And also grab all my bags from the car in a massive messy heap since I am a little worried about the power door locks not working and never being able to get them out again.

(Carrying my sad little possessions with me)

Then, I call up my father and say “Dad?  I need help!”  Luckily, we were already going to meet for coffee.  So half an hour later, I meet up with Dad and explain the whole thing.  And then there is a mini discussion of the real name for the starter, not the trademark name, which goes completely over my head, and finally a suggestion that I call my car insurance company and see if I have road side assistance.  Again, I am dumb, this never occurred to me.  So I call them and they are super super nice and tell me I just have to get my insurance card (which is of course in the car) and call back with that information and I can get some nice person to come and take it off my hands.

(Some heroic person to come save me)

So, Dad (for moral support) and I go back to the parking garage.  And realize that this garage would be a nightmare for a tow truck, because it has a steep ramp and low roof.  So if possible, we should get the car out and on to the road.  Before I get the insurance card, Dad wants to try starting it up.  Which he does, and it goes!  Yay!  And then he starts driving out of the garage, which makes sense, to get it back down to the road.  And then he gets to the road and turns and keeps going.  Maybe to look for a space?  But then he just keeps going and going and is gone!

(Very similar to this)

So, I am a bit perplexed.  And decide to go back to the coffee shop where Grandpa and Mom and my sister still are.  And I come in and say I need advice again.  Mom is a bit unsure because she doesn’t know about cars.  But then I explain I don’t need car advice, I need Dad advice.  And she is completely confident with that!  Tells me definitely, once he got the car going, he would just want to take it to the nearest service station and not stop.  So I should just sit here and drink water and wait for his call.  Which is, in fact, what he had done.  And he called 5 minutes later to say he had delivered it to the service station and was walking back.  Phew!

(So no need for an elaborate chase scene to get my car back)

So then I went back to work, to discover Dog Hazel had turned into a nervous wreck in the meantime, what with all my in and out and in the car and out of the car and so on.  Pretty sure she thought I was never coming back and this was just her life now.

(Like Paro waiting for Dev)

And then Dad had to drive by the service station on the way home and tell them that he is the father of the girl they helped that morning and insist on giving them money.

(He is not the terrible Anupam Kher in Laage Chunari Main Daag kind of father, who just assumes his daughters will be fine and never worries about things, he is the other kind of father who is constantly worrying about things)

I am still coming down a little bit from the adrenaline high, and also dreading the eventual garage bill/need to buy a new car.  And a bit emotional at the thought of getting a new car eventually, since this one is a family heirloom, the last car my grandfather bought 19 years ago right before he died.  And then my grandmother drove it to the grocery store once a week for 12 years until she got over 90 and gave it to my parents.  Who drove it for another 3 years before giving it to me.  How can I give it up???  Even if it randomly dies sometimes? We all have our little problems!

(It’s my car!  By right of birth and inheritance!  Why should I fear?)


To calm myself, I am trying to focus on the positives rather than the negatives.  Think how much worse if I had gone through Starbucks instead where the exit is much smaller and there would have been no way around me!  Or if it had died in the middle of the busy street!

And, wasn’t it lucky that it died exactly between THREE separate service stations?  So I was guaranteed a nice person to help?

And, if I have to be young and foolish with no idea how to jump a car, isn’t it nice that I am also blessed with a pleasant demeanor and smiling face so random strangers helped me?

And aren’t I lucky to have a nice boss who will help me push my car into a space when it dies?

And wasn’t it lucky that my parents were already going to be having coffee nearby so they could give me advice and support?

And the miracle of it actually starting when my father tried it!

And most of all, isn’t it nice that it died in the middle of a busy Chicago neighborhood, instead of in the literal middle of nowhere with no cell service where I was going to be driving it tonight around sunset tonight?  I’m sure Dog Hazel wouldn’t have minded walking through a mile of cornfields and then knocking on random house and hoping a nice person helped out, but it might have bothered me a bit.

(Like this, only cornfields instead of deserts, and a young woman and a little dog instead of two adorable children)


19 thoughts on “Disaster Morning. Death, Heat, Misery, McDonalds, The Whole Thing Devdas

  1. My road trip from Maryland to Maine in June got off to a rocky start when my engine light went on ninety minutes from home, resulting in a $$$$ repair bill and a $ night in a hotel with only Chinese take-out in walking distance. But the rest of the trip was great; I wish you the same!


  2. An awful start to the day. Thank goodness for dads and other nice people. Hope your car can be repaired (does your car have a nickname? – my dad gave nicknames to all his cars, I found one of his notebooks with the complete list..) and if not, well, she has had a good innings.


    • we always just called cars by their model name. except this particular one, which we usually call “g’jo’s car” (our nickname for my grandmother). she outlived G’Jo and Poppie, so that’s pretty good for a car! living longer than two owners.


    • That’s how I feel about computers, after having many laptops die on me. But somehow I still had complete illogical faith in my car.


      • I recently upgraded to a new car with “keyless start” with Start/Stop button. I had been happy for a month, but became paranoid after reading a blog yesterday about probable disadvantages about keyless – like forgetting to press stop key and idling car in garage overnight, driving the car forgetting the keyfob outside, etc.


        • My parents were looking at a keyless car when they bought their last one a few years ago, and it was too alarming for them. They wanted an actual key.

          On Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 8:49 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, indeed, you were lucky…and still you are with that nature to look “at the bright side of life”. I remember an incident with my car in Budapest were – in hindsight – everything showed me how lucky I had been 🙂

    I like your writing of personal incidents 🙂


  4. I sure as heck can’t top that, but once, somebody walked into the Subaru dealership where I was going to get my Forester after its check-up, took the keys that happened to be waiting for me on the counter, went out into the lot, pressed the ping-ping, got the response, got into the car, and drove off. He lived in it for a month (pizza boxes, empty beer cans, dirty underwear – ew), then abandoned it in the woods. Subaru was like, “Aren’t you happy? You got your car back.” I was like, “Are you kidding?” They gave me a new one.
    And BTW, focusing on the positive is good, but please, mredlich21, a woman (no matter how sentimental) and her sweet doggie alone in an aging, wonky auto? Not good.


    • I think you did top it! that is a pretty terrible story.

      The car is now, theoretically, fixed. But it still feels a bit odd in other ways, I think I can now ease it along at least until the end of the summer but I may need a new-to-me car sooner rather than later. Definitely it’s highway days are past.


  5. Wow. Sorry you had such a rough morning. Thanks for sharing with us. I like your “traditional blog” type stories. They add to the nice variety here. I like that you call out the positives, but also please feel free to vent about the parts that suck too!

    This whole story makes me miss my grandparents so much. At least 2 of my childhood cars were hand me downs to my parents from grandparents. Then there was my paternal grandma’s Cadillac, which she also basically drove between grocery, hair salon, church, and Bob Evans in her little town (not usually all on the same day) for 15 years or so until she stopped driving at around 85. I used to drive it for occasional dinners at slightly fancier places a bit further away. It was fun to drive–a giant mid-80’s sedan–and she enjoyed the outings. And your dad sounds a lot like my maternal grandpa. He was the calmest, most reliable helper ever. One Christmas, our old beater wouldn’t start and we were supposed to go to my grandparents farm. My mom called him, and he happily drove the almost 2 hours to pick us up, and drove us back again the next day. Basically he’s my template for a perfect man. 🙂


    • Aw, you are making me think about my paternal Grandma (not the one who gave me this car, the other side). She had a deep and close relationship with her hair salon man, because she had to see him once a week for 15 years. Which somehow never seemed odd to me because it was just what Grandma’s do, but now it does! What kind of haircut needs maintenance once a week? I guess Grandma hair.

      On Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 11:09 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

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