I had big plans for today. Grace is with her Grammy, it's just me and Katie, and I have a few things to take care of before I go back to work in two weeks (SOOOB). Namely, an oil change and a stock-up trip to Costco.
We got a late start, but I figured, eh, no worries, it's just me and Katie! Cheap Oil Change Place (name of business changed to protect not the HORRIBLY GUILTY, but myself because even though everything here is utterly true, I just...yeah.) was remarkably fast, didn't try to sell me a new air filter I didn't need (FORESHADOWING!!), and I was on my way to Costco.
I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for my delicious decaf-skim-2 splenda coffee (seriously, they make the best decaf in the entire universe, and with Katie's extreme reaction to caffeine, it's been an addiction. anyway.) When I left Dunkin Donuts, I was headed towards the expressway rather than the surface road that would take me to Costco, so I figured, eh, probably faster! And I hopped on the Kennedy. I noticed a state trooper right in front of me and was glad I wasn't talking on the phone or anything (MORE FORESHADOWING!!)
Shortly after getting on the expressway, I abruptly lost acceleration. Well SHIT, I thought. Bet they screwed up my car. I stayed in the right lane and hoped to make it to the next exit. As I lost speed, it became increasingly clear I would not. I made it to the shoulder juuuust as I lost steering and all the car's warning lights came on.
I would like to say the nurse in me took over, and I calmly assessed the situation. However, there were mere inches between me and the cars whizzing by on Chicago's busiest expressway, because I wasn't actually on the shoulder, but the little space right before an entrance ramp. It was probably 90 degrees in the car. Katie was screaming. I had NO IDEA what exactly was wrong with my car. I don't have AAA. And did I mention Katie was utterly losing her mind and I could not get to her because cars were whizzing by, mere inches from my door? So the mama in me overtook the nurse in me and I promptly freaked the fuck out. I'm not gonna lie here.
Although the state trooper was several hundred feet behind me, he was busy doing SOMETHING with a truck and I knew he couldn't do anything for me at that moment. So I thought to call 911. The see-you-next-tuesday who answered the phone bitchily asked if I had called my motor club. I had no patience for such dipshitty inquiries and told her that if I HAD a motor club, I would call them. She promptly put me on hold without another word, because apparently being on the expressway in a disabled car with a screaming infant in extreme heat is not a reason to be concerned. She had, in fact, transferred me to 311 (I was going to link to them, but nobody really cares THAT much, so I"ll briefly tell you that it's Chicago's non-emergency service line.) When they finally got to my call (because remember, they're for non-emergency services, there's quite a wait time), the person was at least really helpful and reminded me I needed to call *999. Which, okay, DUH. But the, ahem, woman at 911 couldn't have told me that? I will say a nightly prayer for her that God helps her to not be such an unhelpful, hateful shrew.
So *999 tells me they've called IDOT and they're on the way, and assures me he's told them there's an infant in the car. An infant who is STILL screaming, in a car that is still a billion degrees even though all the windows are down, and I can't get to her without risking life and limb.
And I sit. For approximately fifty years. I honestly have no idea how long we sat there. Eventually, the state trooper finished with the truck and pulled up behind me. It was pretty obvious I wasn't just lounging, since I had my blinkers on and also was just sitting on the side of the expressway. And I will seriously NEVER stop kicking myself for not getting his name, because he was the nicest, most calming and helpful person I encountered in this whole mess. He suggested I try starting the car again, and when it started fine, told me he would escort me off the ramp (which was not far ahead at all) and that I would be okay to make it back to Oil Change Place of Death.
And he was right. I did make it back there alive, jumped out of the car, and furiously told Oil Change of Death employees what had happened. Pulled a screaming, sweat-soaked Katie out of the back seat and went into the waiting area, where I had to towel her off with a burpy dampened by the drinking fountain. Long story short (too late!): they had re-installed the air filter incorrectly, leaving a huge gap that allowed too much air to be pulled in. He reinstalled it correctly and drove it around the block to make sure the car was okay. I pointed out the car was fine on surface roads anyway, but whatfriggingever.
He was the manager. I did not get my money back. I will not be returning to Oil Change of Death. Their corporate headquarters will, however, be receiving a really awesomely bitchy email from me, which they will promptly delete without reading but I will feel better for having written.
We never made it to Costco. Katie is fast asleep on my chest, stripped down to her diaper, and while I doubt she is as traumatized as I am, the memory of sitting in that car with traffic flying past us, with her screaming and me unable to do a damn thing about it, is enough to keep me off the expressway for today. I'll have to get the 64-pack of toilet paper another day. Today I have bigger things to do. Like signing up for AAA and sending nasty emails.