Tuesday – Traffic jam on the Beltway. All crept along at no more than 2 miles per hour, for an entire hour. And then, in the middle of five lanes of traffic, two on the left and two on the right, the War Horse stalls. The battery is empty, so empty that I can’t even turn on the hazard lights. I have to pop the hood to show those behind me that I am not going anywhere. Weeks ago my cell phone had given out and I was rather enjoying the silence, so I hadn’t bothered replacing it. It’s actually next to me in a bag, and possibly capable of an emergency call, but alas its battery is drained, too. Tablet: no Wi-Fi signal, except a secured one from the Washington Post building off to the right. Kindle: has 3G, but refuses to use it for anything aside from buying more Kindle books at the Kindle store. Its so-called "Experimental Browser" is experimental indeed.
Now, on to the faces. Behind me one car comes, waits, realizes I’m suck. The lady gives a look of exasperation. As does the next. Rolling eyes, mouthed obscenities. One guy pounded on his door and hooted as he passed. Another yelled at me to pull it over to the side. If only I could. I felt better – I physically felt better – resting my head in my hand to hide my eyes.
It was still pretty jammed from the accident ahead, so I was able to ask the passenger in a car briefly idling next to me to call for help…and maybe she was the one who did. Meanwhile I sat. Recited the Sorrowful Mysteries on my fingers (it was Tuesday after all). And to think! Yesterday, only yesterday!, I had passed inspection! 5/15, right there on the windshield! One hundred and so years ago I would have been the one flogging that horse quite beyond measure by now, sending the syphilitic across the way to the asylum, once and for all…
Now the traffic jam was letting up. Cars starting to whir by. What’s worse is that it was starting to get dark. I had no hazard lights, right? And there was no telling whether everyone would see me on time. By now all feelings of shame were long departed. I could no longer walk across the two lanes of traffic to the shoulder – I had waited too long. I stood right up against the car and, for the first time in my entire life, oh gentle reader, extended my thumb. I could not prevent someone from plowing into my car. But I could prevent myself from being in or around the car when it happened.
After a few minutes a cop pulled up behind and pushed me over the shoulder. I got a tow. A jump would have sufficed, I insisted, but the mumbles I received indicated otherwise. I was towed to a service station. A friend came, jumped me, and off I went.
And the next day I picked up a Highlander, because I pretty much need that third row of seats to accommodate the darlings. It had been getting awfully tight in that majestic old Camry. And it was so, so fortunate that they had not been along for that fatal mission. Plus I didn't even have to pee, really. And the weather was very nice. Just a lone man, in his prime, standing next to his defunct vehicle, thumb outstretched.
Or maybe I am an idiot.