Oy, what a night. But given the level of potential suckage, I came out
of this pretty good.

I get home after work, and realize that I’ve left my house keys (which
are also my desk keys, but not my car keys) at the office. I don’t want
to drive back to the suburbs during rush hour — I live in the city and
commute the wrong way — so I do some errands downtown and then head out
around 7 to pick up my keys then head home.

Drive out is unremarkable, but on the way back in, just before the city
limits, my drive belt shreds. Whoops, there goes the power steering!
Luckily, there was no-one beside me and I could pop on the hazards and
make my way to an exit right there. Parked under a streetlamp and popped
the hood — yep, bare pulleys. We’re not going anywhere tonight.

So I’m on some long offramp that goes down under the merging highway —
I didn’t catch the sign as I went through it — and while I have my
cellphone, I don’t have the name of a tow truck company handy to ask
Information for. And since I’m under the merging highway, I can’t really
even look around to figure out which of two or three exits I’ve
taken. (Ottawa people: Turned out to be Richmond/Acres. I probably knew
that, in retrospect.)

So I get back in the car to think about what to do — did I mention the
windchill is -33 C (-24 F)? — and not a minute later, a cop stops in
front of me. He calls a tow truck for me and heads off, and the tow
truck is there in about ten minutes. That’s about as fast as you
can get there from the city, since you have to drive out past the
Greenbelt to get back into the eastbound lanes.

Off we go, all the way across town to the dealer. We get there at
8:30; the service area is closed, but the sales area is open until 9, so
I fill out the “call me in the morning” form. I give Mom a call — she
lives ten minutes from there — and she picks me up and drops me off at

Tomorrow’s supposed to be another brutally cold day (high of -19 C all
day!), so I dropped my manager a line, and instead of figuring out
public transportation to the suburbs in the morning, I can work from

So, all in all, that worked out pretty well, given that the belt broke:
It was on the way back from getting my house keys, not the way there.
There’s no-one beside me when the power steering goes, and there’s
a long offramp with a wide shoulder and bright lighting right there.
Cop shows up right away; tow truck shows up short enough after that I
was barely beginning to get cold. Didn’t have to wait in the cold at
the dealer, nor did I have to wait long, and I don’t have to worry
about public transportation in the morning. And the dealer will almost
certainly be able to fix things up tomorrow; drive belts are parts you
just always carry, and it could’ve been some obscure part that broke
that had to be ordered from Sweden.

So, hey, I’m not really complaining much.

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