California Breakdown (August Adventures Part 1)

Driving down Highway 680 in the San Francisco-Bay Area the battery light turned on in my stepdad’s old car. My little brother was driving and we just ignored the light. Old cars sometimes have electrical problems.

We got to our Dad’s house and parked the car. We went to re-park and realized that the car wouldn’t start. No problem — we pushed it into its parking space and continued on to lunch & other entertainment. We gave the car a jump from my Dad’s car and headed off.

Ten minutes into the drive the battery light turned on again. No problem, we thought, it made the trip once already. We continued on and were just at the exit to get back on Highway 680 when my brother took the wrong exit instead. Just as we realized this the car began to slow. Then it began to sputter. Then it just stopped. There was no shoulder and no side street to turn on. The car was just done. Stopped cold in a lane of traffic on a relatively busy street. My brother, to his credit, handled the car with calm and simply steered it on as it slowed. We called our mom and AAA and 911 and set ourselves to directing traffic around the parked car whose hazard lights didn’t work. Passing drivers yelled at each other as they tried to merge quickly into the right lane when they realized that the 2-lane road had become a 1-lane road. And they yelled at us and told us to put on our hazard lights. Only 1 driver stopped to offer help! I’ll tell you, standing in front of your broken down car in a lane of traffic lamely directing drivers to drive around it is a pretty humbling way to spend a half-hour.

The friendly tow-truck man came and towed it to a near by gas station, cracking jokes the whole time.

And we hunkered down to wait for our mom to come get us.

All’s well that ends well, you know. My step dad replaced the battery and drove the car home the next day. But, still, it was quite the way to start a vacation!


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