This week, on my way home from work, my car suddenly stopped accelerating on the freeway. I was pressing on the gas, and it just slowly lost steam. 55-50-45-40 and so on, as I made my way to the right hand side of the road, onto a graveled hard shoulder. I parked it and when I tried to start it up again, it wouldn’t budge.
I was stuck.
I called AAA and they said they’d send a tow truck. I called my husband and he was ready to drive over and pick me up, but as it turns out, you have to wait with your car in order for the tow truck to pick up the car, and so I was indeed stuck there indefinitely.
“Aren’t you supposed to get out of the car in this situation?” he asked.
I really didn’t want to. The highway was bustling with activity. The last thing I wanted to do was attract the unwanted attention of some drive-by trucker psycho killers. I’ve seen the movies.
But while I waited, I did call the California Highway Patrol, just to get a straight answer. Was I safe sitting in the car (well, aside from possibly drowning in my own sweat)? The answer I got was that I would be fine, if I felt safe sitting there. The operator just recommended that I buckle my seat belt. A CHP officer later stopped by to make sure I was okay and again concurred that I would be okay where I was.
As it turns out, in the UK, you really are advised to get out of the car and to get all of your passengers out of your car if your car breaks down on the motorway. Of course, it also advises staying far out of the way of traffic and away from the front of your car. One article suggests that only if you’re in danger should you get back in your car. Another article suggests that you should only get back in your car if a nice cup of hot tea and a scone is awaiting inside.
Okay, maybe I made that last part up.
AAA arrived an hour and 20 minutes after my call, and I’ve never been happier to see a tow truck.
And for the gearheads in the room who were wondering what exactly was wrong with the car? A faulty fuel pump was to blame.