Our new-to-us vehicle became our emergency when the lug nuts fell out.
- DH = Dear husband
Emergency & stress
The 2nd most stressful part of our emergency last week was the decision to pull off the highway. 5 hours into our road trip, we were behind schedule, but the noise the car had started to make earlier was just getting louder. We were in the middle of Toronto, the part of our drive we’d hoped to be able to get through without facing too much traffic, and with a heavy sigh (and possibly some expletives), DH pulled off of the highway. He parked on the nearest residential street to see if he could figure out what was wrong – and to call CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) for a free tow if necessary.
The most stressful part of our emergency was learning what had made the noise. DH checked the wheels, and sure enough, the front wheel on the driver’s side was missing 3 of 5 lug nuts. A 4th lug nut was so loose it was doing nothing to hold the wheel in place. DH had a sinking feeling as he realized what could have happened – on the highway, high speeds, the wheel flying off … “I should have pulled off sooner!” he chastised himself. “I should have recognized that sound!”
Why it happened
Just a few days before we set out on our road trip, DH brought our new-to-us Dodge Journey in for some free recall repair work that hadn’t been done by the original owner. DH didn’t like the service place. There was a sort of unfriendly indifference on the part of the people he dealt with, and as he reflected upon it from the side of that unfamiliar road in Toronto, he put 2 and 2 together. They had removed the wheels and hadn’t told him – so he hadn’t checked them. A little more self-chastising: “I should have checked!” he said. “I should always check.” DH thought of taking one lug nut from each of the other wheels to make the front one secure, but when he tried to put one on, he couldn’t. The exposed bolt and been sheered – as had the 2 others. Time to call CAA.
A lot to be grateful for
At this point, it was clear we had a lot to be grateful for.
- The wheel hadn’t flown off. We were safe and sound.
- We had a CAA membership, and we got help.
- Although it was late Sunday afternoon, the very helpful CAA man, Abdul, knew of a 24-hour service station, and he brought us to it.
- The owner of the service station had a straight-forward competence, and he let us know after a quick assessment that he’d have to order the bolts in the morning. So we knew before it got dark that we’d be staying overnight in Toronto.
- We had a smartphone, so although the area was completely unfamiliar to us, we could find our way to where we needed to go.
Then it got fun!
I have to admit that when I realized we’d be staying overnight, I felt like a bit of a kid. “We get to stay in a hotel?!” I thought gleefully. “Why would that be so exciting?” you might ask. This blog chronicles our 6+ year journey out of all debt, and there hasn’t been much travel going on since I started it. I hadn’t been in a hotel since 2011 – the year before our intensive debt-reduction started.
We sat in our parked car at the 24-hour service station and did some smartphone research. There was a Howard Johnson’s nearby. There was also a hotel that would cost twice as much. And then there was one that was cheaper – suspiciously absent photo and the word “creepy” in a Google review. Ho Jo’s it was! After booking our room online, a message appeared: “Congratulations! You’ve booked the cheapest room in Howard Johnson’s!”
DH downloaded the Uber app, and we took our first Uber ride ever to our home for the night. I could see why it was the cheapest room! Some brilliant work went into the design of the tiny space! It was complete with everything we needed though: bathroom with shower and tub; closet; drawers; bed; air conditioning. Perfect!
A great night out on the town
Now, where to find vegan food? Again, the smartphone came in handy. A 20 minute walk brought us to a really cool vegan restaurant/bar. And during that walk, we realized we were staying in quite a neighbourhood! “I get so mad,” one pan-handler told me. “The crack-users get $20 or $30 bucks!” Ma and Pa Suburbia no doubt stood out like a sore thumb as we walked hand-in-hand towards the slightly trendier block where our restaurant was located. Always good to see another side of life!
The server was friendly; the food was excellent; and the cast of characters in view was colourful. It was a great night! DH and I took a very bad selfie and sent it to our 3 daughters along with news of the car. They shared our moment with us – concerned about the near-miss and interested in the good food. We decided to play it safe and Uber back to Ho Jo’s after our fantastic meal.
The absence of money stress
If this emergency situation had happened only a few years ago, there would have been money stress to add to the equation. But that concern didn’t enter into our experience at all last week. Why not? We have an emergency fund! The Uber rides, restaurant meal, car repair, and overnight stay all brought on expenses that we hadn’t expected – and they were all easily absorbed. That is such a gift! I remember a time when every unplanned expense brought stress levels to ridiculous heights.
But now, what we’ll remember about our emergency – besides the need to check lug nuts after every visit to a service station and before every road trip – is the adventure we had because of it.
Have you experienced the difference between an emergency without an emergency fund and an emergency with one? Your comments are welcome.