An encounter with AAA in the Lone Star State.

I’ve been paying for my AAA card for years. I’ve never really had to use it before, aside from getting the occasional discount on hotel rooms or eyeglasses, but I always liked having the security in case anything ever happened to me on the road. My father says, after all, that the one time that you end up needing it, you’ll thank your lucky stars. As it turns out, the guy knew what he was talking about.

This past week, during my spring break from grad school, Hubby whisked me away on a vacation to Texas. We spent a whirlwind week going to the rodeo and art museums in Houston, geeking out at NASA, and remembering the Alamo. We stayed with Hubby’s grandmother, who was kind enough to let us borrow her car whenever we needed it.

Midweek, we decided to make the three hour drive from Houston to San Antonio for an overnight trip. We loaded our bags into our Grandma’s car — a huge Lincoln Continental that was literally the same length as a minivan.

An hour into our drive, which took us through miles and miles of the middle-of-nowhere, I asked Hubby to stop at a gas station so we could get something to drink. As soon as we eased the Lincoln into a parking space, it promptly died. No amount of trying could get it to do anything but cough and sputter. It was time to call AAA.

Luckily for us, the weather was breezy and nice, so we waited for our tow truck while munching on ice cream bars with the windows rolled down. As breakdowns go, we were probably in the best possible place, or at least one preferable to sitting on the side of the road somewhere.

Unfortunately for us, the first two shops that our truck driver took us to wouldn’t help us. The second shop owner was downright rude, drawling that we were mistaken if we thought anyone in the town would be willing to look at our car and that his shop was too expensive for us.

Our patient tow truck driver eventually used his GPS to find a nearby Ford dealership, where the mechanics were much nicer and promised to have the Lincoln, which needed a new fuel pump, ready by the next day. Even better, they also had a small car rental that we could use to set out on our road trip once again. We made it to San Antonio by dinnertime, leaving us with enough time to check into our hotel and stroll along the Riverwalk to find a restaurant.

If your car has to break down, there’s really no better way to do it.

Article © 2010 by Molly E. Weeks