Sunday, December 14, 2008

C'mon baby, light my fire.

Didn't I just post about how much I despise The Doors?

I guess it's time to talk about last Friday.
I feel like I've told the story a billion different times (which is not exactly untrue, if we're being honest).
But, I think it's important to record the play-by-play so that next time my car decides that it wants to burst into flames, I have evidential proof that lightening does in fact strike twice.

Note: although the car in question technically refers to one that was actually my sister's at on point in time, it was my car first, and in my possession at the time of it's demise. Therefore, the usage of "my car" shall henceforth apply to the automobile as it is mentioned in to proceedings below.

Here goes.

Friday December 5, 2008

9 pm
Molly and Lara depart from Springfield, thus beginning their trek across the vast expanse of interstate 55 in order to make their way to Chicago and, ultimately, Molly's parent's home.

10 pm
Molly and Lara stop to use the restroom in a gas station near Pontiac, IL.
Discover toilets look as thought they may be carrying a new strain of the Ebola virus.
Are forced to review the fine art of "hovering."

10:45 pm
Molly and Lara pass the Exxon/Mobile power plant just outside of Braidwood.
Notice a burning rubber/sulfur smell.
Turn off heat, thereby making the smell disappear.

10:57 pm
Molly and Lara decide they are cold.
Turn heat back on.
Nasty smell returns, however now the car is surrounded by semi-trucks.
Molly observes the temperature gauge on the dashboard to ensure that the smell is not one that indicates that something is wrong with her vehicle (i.e. overheating).
The gauge remains stable, if a little on the "cold" side.
Decide the smell must be the result of exhaust from other cars.
Turn the heat back off.
Smell disappears, once again.

11:04 pm
Although the heat is still off, the smell returns.
With gusto.
Molly and Lara being choking on the fumes and decide that this is what the showers at Auschwitz must feel like.
Molly decides that they will take the upcoming exit (approximately 1/2 mile) , pull into a gas station, and call AAA to investigate the problem.
The temperature gauge remains the same.

11:05 pm
Molly picks up her cell phone to call her mother in order to inform her that she and Lara will be later than expected, as they are experiencing some minor technical difficulties.

11:06 pm
Black smoke begins to pour from the ventilation system.
Lara: Molly, maybe we should pull over now.

11:07 pm
Molly pulls over on to the shoulder, still in the process of calling her mother.
Three things now happen simultaneously: 1). As Molly shifts the car into "park" 2). her mom answers the phone call which Molly has now totally forgotten about because 3). she looks down and notices that the radio, clock, and entire center console are orange and producing smoke.

11:07:36 pm
Um, Mom? My car's on fire. I have to call you back.

11:08 pm
Molly: Lara, we need to get out of the car.
For some reason, Molly has the state-of-mind to remove her keys from the ignition and hang on to her phone as they are evacuating.
She also glances down at the temperature gauge one last time.
It is the same.

11:08:16 pm
Our heroines realize that it is December, and therefore 19 degrees outside, and return to the car for their coats. Subsequently, they are able to reach the rest of their belongings including a purse, duffel bag, and miscellaneous bag each.
The continue to evacuate south of the vehicle, and turn around just in time to see flames shooting out of the front end, including underneath the hood.

11:09 pm
Molly places a call to 911.
911 operator: 911, what's your emergency?
Molly: Yeah. So, I'm on I-55, just south of exit 253 and my car's on fire.
911 operator: Oh my god. Are you serious?
Molly: Um, yes? My car. It just burst into flames.
911 operator: Is anyone hurt?
Molly: Nope.
911 operator: Are you a safe distance from the car?
Molly: You betcha. But, you might wanna send some firemen or something. It's pretty out of control.
911 operator: Right. They're on their way.
Molly: Super. Thanks a bunch!

11:10 pm
Molly's phone rings.
Ruth: Didn't anyone ever tell you that you can't call someone, tell them you're car is on fire, and then hang up on them?! Are you okay? Stay where you are. We're coming to get you. Hold on, your father wants to talk to you.
Ray: muffled sounds as the phone quickly exchanges hands Molly, do not panic. Do you hear me? DO. NOT. PANIC.
Molly: Really Dad, we're fine.
Ray: Just CALM DOWN.
Molly: Dad, I'm totally calm. Honestly. Cool as a cucumber.
Ray: Stop freaking out!
Molly: Not freaking out. But I should probably go. 911 is calling me back.

11:12 pm
The car is totally engulfed in flames.
Molly and Lara watch from a safe distance.
They then look at each other, and start to laugh hysterically.
Molly wonders secretly if the temperature gauge has moved at all, and contemplates going to check it despite the towering inferno in front of her.

11:13 pm
Something pops, sparks fly.
She reconsiders.

11:27 pm
Firefighters, ambulances, and the Illinois State Police arrive on the scene.

11:29 pm
A friendly state trooper lets Molly and Lara sit in the back of his warm squad car as he takes their statements.
Molly remarks that this is the only time she's ever been in the back of a police car.
She and Lara cannot stop giggling.
Are sure that the trooper thinks they're on drugs.

11:45 pm
Molly's Uncle Dave, who is a policeman 10 minutes south of the...scene...arrives.
He takes one look at the car and explodes into fits of laughter.
Says he will sit with the girls until Ray and Ruth arrive to pick them up.

12:01 am
Fire is extinguished.
Official statement is complete, including a copy for Molly's own personal memorabilia.
The girls exit the squad car in favor of Uncle Dave's car.
They drive to exit 253 and pull into a parking lot to wait for Molly's parents.

1:15 am
Ray and Ruth arrive.
They begin the drive to Chicago with Molly and Lara as passengers.
Remark that their passengers smell like burning car.

2:30 am
The four weary travelers arrive at Molly's childhood home.
Ray and Ruth depart for bed.
Molly and Lara shower in an attempt to remove the burning car smell from their hair.

3:05 am

Special thanks to:
My parents, for not having massive coronaries and driving and hour and 15 minutes in the freezing cold to rescue us.
My Uncle David, for being on the ball, driving really fast, knowing "cop-speak", and sitting with us so we didn't have to go to the police station.
Lara, for still being my friend even though my car tried to kill us.
The good people at Ford, for making such a fine automobile.
Fabreeze, for doing it's job and getting *the smell* out of our coats.

Our gloves
My dress pants
the Taylor Swift CD
Assorted pieces of paper and Tupperware.

Other highlights include:
My brother calling to ask if my near-death experienced had given me a "new perspective on life", my sister crying when I told her about the incident NOT because her sister could have been seriously injured and/or killed but because the car was now a steaming pile of metal, realizing that we don't have that kind of insurance coverage on the car, and my mother trying to explain the situation to my grandparents the next morning (really amusing, let me tell you).

In retrospect, if my car had to blow up this was the best possible scenario for it.
Did I really just type that?
We weren't in a residential area. We were able to get all of our important belongings out in time. Neither of us were injured.
If we had pulled over any sooner, it most certainly would have to a gas station because those are really the only well-lit areas off of the interstate, especially at 11 pm. And, according to the fire department, there was no way to prevent the fire. It was going to happen no matter what we'd done.
I don't even want to think about the possibility of being at a gas station when it happened. That's just scary.
If we had pulled over at a later time than we actually did... let's not even talk about it.
Normally I bring laundry home. Not to mention the fact that we were supposed to drive to Champaign to pick up Janie's bicycle. There would've been no way for us to get either of those things out in time, which means that we would've either injured ourselves trying to do so, or lost them. I mean, material possessions...but still. Minimum loss.
I also considered bringing the cat home with me because he gets antsy and lonely when I leave him for long periods of time. If he had been in the car, well...
I don't even want to think about that, either.

Not to mention, if my sister had been driving I can tell you right now that she definitely would not have been as cautious as we were.
She never freaks out about anything. Ever.
Always very level-headed, that one.
She's almost totally calm all the time, until you place her in an extremely high-stress situation (par exemple: when one's car catches on fire while one is driving it). Then she melts down and doesn't know what to do.
Or, she would've ignored the warning signs and continued driving because I am far more paranoid than she is.
For once it paid off, I guess.

You might call this the best worst situation possible.

Also, my mother told me the next day that when I initially called her and said "my car is on fire", she assumed I was exaggerating (as I am wont to do on certain occaisions). It was only when sahe spoke with my uncle, who coroberated my story, that she realized the magnitude of the situation.
But, let's be serious people. Yes, I exaggerate sometimes. It's a theatre thing.
However, when I exaggerate, it's about my need for new shoes, my weight, or my current GPA.
Never have I once produced an exaggeration that involved fire. Let alone a fire that necessitates my parents leaving the warmth of their bed and driving and hour and 15 minutes in the middle of the night. In December, no less.

So, let this be a lesson to all.
If I call you and tell you that something is on fire?
Well, you'd freaking better believe that it's acutually, you know...
on fire.

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