I had planned a day consisting of a trip to Nini Bambini, our local "maternal wellness center" to attend the new mom and baby group (and maybe do a teensy bit of shopping in their very cool store) followed by a trip to the library to stock up. I was pretty excited, I've got to be honest. The babies and I don't get out much - especially if you don't count trips to the doctor as "getting out."
I woke up early and showered (bonus). I put on a little makeup (bonus) because I'm still working on bringing sexy back. I gave both babies baths (double bonus), nursed them, and put them in clean outfits. (I don't get any bonuses for nursing and changing clothes. Those are necessary elements that simply indicate I'm attempting to fulfill my motherly duties). I loaded up the car, got the babies all snuggly in their car seats, and we were off.
It was a beautiful day - one of those late April days with a calm, lazy warmth and a sudden abundance of color in leaves and flowers and sky. I pulled out my old Rusted Root CD and sang along as both babies slept. I was feeling good, and quite competent after my morning's achievements.
About ten miles from my house, as I was carving our way along a rather sharp curve, I felt a pouffy sort of "snap" from the car. A flat tire? Then the steering went. Then some hot air came rushing at me.
Certain that the car was about to explode with both me and my sweet sleeping babies inside, I wrestled us onto the shoulder and shut down the engine. The hot air went away, and with it, my fears of explosion. But still, shit. Because now I'm broken down on a busy road with two babies (and two car seats) and likely no cell service because I live in the middle of nowhere. And I'm definitely going to miss mom and baby group.
On the bright side, both babies were still sleeping, and through some miracle of nature, I had one bar on my fully charged phone. I started by calling loving husband. Voicemail. I next called loving neighbor. Machine. So then I did what any rational mother would do. I dialed 9-1-1.
When the operator came on and asked "what's your emergency?" I started to wonder if perhaps this was an abuse of a critical public service. But then both babies woke up, let out a howl at realizing the car had -GASP!- stopped moving (my babies do not tolerate non-moving vehicles) and any concern over my level of emergency disappeared. I begged her to send me some assistance. And was slightly surprised when she agreed.
So then I waited. And waited. I called my mother who was visiting her parents in Florida, because hey, my mom used to break down all the time and perhaps we could share a laugh. Or maybe it was because both babies were crying louder, working themselves up to a point where spit up was flying around the backseat almost as thick as the layer of black flies swarming our vehicle. And I, who cannot handle hearing my babies cry for more than .0000001 seconds, had no choice but to sit pathetically and listen, since as much as crying breaks my heart, it is better than getting smooshed on the side of a busy road as the black flies carry my babies away to suck out all their blood. So. I called mommy.
After about 30 minutes, I was relieved to look in the rear view mirror and see blue lights. I got off the phone with my mom who was insisting that she would send a friend to help. I assured her I was fine. "The police are here, and they've sent a big van. I'm sure they'll take us home."
The officer, a dead ringer for Joe Pesci in Home Alone, swaggered over to my car. "So have you called someone to help?"
Ah, yup. You're kinda him, Joe.
Joe Pesci was not very helpful. I mentioned this briefly before, but perhaps without proper emphasis. I live in a very small town. In the middle of nowhere. Turns out that Joe Pesci was not, in fact, an officer of the law. He was not, in fact, allowed to help me. He was not, in fact, driving a big van because he planned to drive us home.
Here's what Joe Pesci was:
An animal control officer. From the next town over. Driving a paddy-wagon. For dogs.
Joe's help consisted of repeatedly berating me for having my windows cracked (silly me - wanting my children to breathe oxygen), lest the babies should be bothered by the black flies. Joe asked if I had a rattle so that he could soothe my hysterical babies. Yeah, Joe. A rattle is TOTALLY going to help. He did, however, run my license and registration, probably just to make sure I hadn't stolen this 12 year old SUV with a rusty fender. Surely I would call 9-1-1 for assistance in my stolen vehicle.
I called mom back. Mom sent her friend to help. Joe Pesci was mildly helpful installing the car seats into our rescuer's car.
And as I stood next to him, eying his paunch, I could hardly overcome the urge to grab his taser gun and ZAP him. Cause I bet I'm faster than him.
The car had a broken crankshaft pulley. Or something like that.
What matters is this: I passed the "broken down on the side of the road with two crying babies" test with what I like to think are flying colors. I did not cry. I barely swore. And most importantly, I did not taser an almost-officer-of-the-law. And we got home safe and sound and all that stuff too.