I would just like to put it out there that I am not necessarily a huge fan of adrenaline. I mean, a little every once in a while is fine. Adds a little zest to life. Gets the blood moving, heart pumping. You know, good stuff. But unqualified terror, cold sweat, and can’t stop shaking afterward? I’ll take a pass, thank you very much. Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t have a choice. That’s when you hang on til it’s over, double check that you still have all your body parts, and thank the dear, sweet Lord that you made it through all in one piece.
Speaking of which, while I was on my way to Swing Club last night, the brakes failed on my car. I had just pulled away from my house, when I saw some kids playing on the sidewalk a little too close to the street. I tried to tap the brakes to slow down a bit, and the brakes just sank all the way to the floor with no resistance whatsoever. I said a bad word, and tried the parking brake. Nothing. My car was still moving, and since my street is on a slight incline, was picking up speed. I kept pumping both brakes to no effect, and tried putting the car into Park, then Reverse. Nothing.
The bottom of my street is a dead end at a stop light into another, busier street. This light was red. I desperately wanted to stop before that light. The curb to my left was free of cars, so I tried running the car up onto the curb to slow it down. Unfortunately, the curb on my street is very low, so this did absolutely nothing. When that didn’t work I knew that I was going to run the light. There is a large apartment building blocking the view of oncoming traffic, so I knew that whatever cars were coming wouldn’t be able to see me. I jammed the horn as hard as I could as I headed out into the intersection. There were cars coming both ways. The blood was rushing so hard in my ears that I thought my horn didn’t work, but it must have, because they stopped. (Dear Driver of the Red SUV: I love you.)
I turned left onto the busier street. This put me going up a hill, which finally, finally slowed me down. However, I knew that I couldn’t stop there. I turned onto the next smaller side street. The curbs on this street were nice and high, and this time when I ran the car up onto the curb, it stopped. I jammed the parking brake on again, and this time it held. I turned the car off, and sat there, shaking.
My first thought, when I could think again, was that I should call AAA. Except then I remembered that I was on my way to teach swing dancing. Let’s just say that the only time I’ve missed a commitment to teach was because my brother died. I needed to get there. My car was stopped, and in a safe location, and AAA wouldn’t care whether I called them then or after dancing was done. I knew that Bounce, who was also teaching, would be on his way. I pulled my phone out of my bag, and when he answered, shakily asked if he would come get me. Then I called my mechanic, and left a message letting him know what happened, and laying the groundwork for getting the car towed to him. Then I called Red (Bounce’s teaching partner), and let her know that we were probably going to be late. I was still shaking, so I got out of the car to pace up and down the sidewalk while I talked. Little by little the adrenaline started to wear off. Then Bounce pulled up behind me, I grabbed my bag out of the car, and went off to dancing.
The best part of having something totally freaky like this happen? It’s experiencing how totally wonderful your friends are. First there was Bounce coming to my rescue, then Sky giving me the hug I really, really needed, and then Mr. Zoot, who took me back to my car after dancing, waited with me until the tow truck came, and let me use his AAA membership so that I didn’t have to pay for the tow. If things like this have to happen, then I’m just grateful that I have such wonderful friends to help me through it.