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Gang Aft Agley

You may not be able to translate that exactly, but I’m sure many will remember that this is what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men according to Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Allow me to borrow a device from cinema and television and begin my tale at the very end. Today, at approximately 10:45 a.m., I crawled into the backseat of a Lexus, put a coat over my lap, dropped my drawers, and peed into my tea thermos, taking great care to keep my clothes and the car’s leather seats clean and dry.

That’s enough (too much?) to let you know that some plan or other had gone off the rails. Now I’ll tell you which and how much.

This weekend Matt and I were scheduled to take a road trip to pick up our new car, the one we are buying from a friend in D.C. The friend inherited a family car that is still located in Louisville, KY. To shorten the travel for all of us, we (actually, she) hatched a crazy but brilliant scheme. What if she, I’ll call her Sharon, drove the car we are buying to the midway point between Louisville and D.C. We could then drive her inherited car from Louisville to the same midway point. Lunch would be eaten, cars exchanged, and voila! within 9 or 10 hours we’d both have the car we wanted in the city of our residence.

We scheduled the swap for today. Simon was sent to sleep over with grandparents, and Matt and I were all set to pick up the family car from Sharon’s dad on Saturday, leave our house in it by 8:30 a.m. this morning, and meet in Sutton West Virginia for lunch and the title transfer at 1:00 p.m. The car had been serviced by the local Lexus dealer earlier this week and was given a clean bill of health. All the paperwork was prepared. Cell phone numbers were exchanged. Maps were printed. We were good to go.

The first hiccup came when we miscommunicated with Sharon’s dad, missed our appointed pick-up window, fell out of touch for several hours, and ended up getting the car at midnight, just hours before we were due to leave on our road trip. Not great, but OK. After all, there would be two of us in the car to share the driving today.

The second hiccup came this morning when we left our house at 8:13 a.m. and immediately ran into driving rain and limited visibility. Not great, but we could take it slow. At worst, we’d be tired and late for our rendezvous.

The third hiccup came just after 8:40 when we hit the Shelby County line on I-64 East and all lanes came to a complete stop. Not a slow-down, but a complete stop. We eventually learned that I-64 East had been closed due to two concurrent accidents within a two-mile stretch, both of which involved injuries and one of which involved a car crashing into a fire truck that had arrived on the scene in response to the first accident.

Things started looking bad at this point. How long would we be stuck? Could we both still make the trip when one of us had to be home in time to get Simon into bed and ready for school in the morning? For the first time, our plan was seriously called into question.

The fourth hiccup came at about 9:45, when cars finally began to move. We smiled, anxiously turned the key in the starter, and, . . .  nothing. Lights briefly flickered across the dash, then grew dim, and then went dark. We were dead in the water, stranded on 64 in a car that wasn’t ours and sure to miss our appointed rendezvous.

Houston, we have a problem.

A frenzy of phone calls got made at this point. Sharon found a coffee shop at which to enjoy her paper while we figured when, how, and whether the car exchange would take place today. After another hour or so, a tow truck came to haul the car to Lexus of Louisville and my mother came to haul me and Matt to the same place.

But the interval between 8:15, when I drank my morning tea, and 11:00, when the tow-truck arrived was a long one. Too long for my bladder. And that’s how I came to use a thermos for a purpose it was never intended.

We eventually sorted out the car problem, and Matt carried on to West Virginia without me. About now he’s finishing his dinner and making his way home in our new car. It could have been a lot worse. However, I still don’t know if weather will allow Matt to make the return trip tonight or if he’ll need to stay at a hotel overnight.

I also don’t know if I’ll ever be able to use that thermos again!

Let’s hope we’ve “gang aft agley” as much as we’re going to for one day.



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