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At the wee hour of four o’clock in the morning my family and I are headed over to my grandparents’ house to embark on our lovely family vacation. Look out Panama City…my family is on the way. Grandpa’s fear of flying meant a long drive from Louisville to the beach. It was a decent, crowded drive down to Florida, although there were times when buttons were pushed and nerves were tested. It was smooth speeding, I mean sailing, for the most part, and then came Alabama.
My uncle was driving his car which was the lead while my dad followed behind. We were on one of those long, straight, flat stretches that Alabama is famous for, when we noticed that the lead car was starting to slow down. Dad used the walkie-talkie to find out what was going on, and they had no idea. So we are in the middle of nowhere and the car decides to breakdown. Just dandy. In the scorching hot weather a few people start to look at the car to try and figure it all out. Since none of them are repairmen (they just like to pretend they are), the consensus was made to call AAA. After waiting a little bit my grandpa, sister, and I were all taken to a gas station to wait, mainly to get Grandpa out of the heat.
Well in this rundown shack of a gas station, there was no air conditioning; tiny fans were present to create the allusion that there was, when in reality all they did was blow around the thick, smoke-filled air. It did have tables, however, which we used to play cap hockey: water bottles for the goal posts, one of the bottle caps for the puck, and grandpa’s broken sunglasses for sticks. Normally five, maybe ten minutes of entertainment had stretched on for four hours.
While the three of us desperately tried to think positively, the other five people were with the cars, waiting around for three hours before AAA showed up. Great service right there. And to make matters worse, the representative was a “country fella”: overweight, with a funny eye and heavy accent. After looking at the car he offered to take it back to his own garage to fix the problem. Out of options they agreed and my uncle and his girlfriend rode along with the countryman in overalls pulling the car, while my dad, mom, and grandma followed behind in the one car we had left. Turned out that this ‘garage,’ had the looks of a junkyard; not too surprising at this point. Settling the deal lead to another dilemma. We needed a car. So they drove to the nearest airport, rented a car, and then drove back to the garage/junkyard to get the luggage from the broken down vehicle. Then they rescued us from the suffocating, smoggy gas station. Back on the road to Panama City we went.
Once there, the week went by fairly smooth. There were no major mishaps or arguments – a good vacation. And then we drove home. The schedule: Junkyard to pick car up, airport to return rental, switch luggage (again), flat tire, home. Oh yea, right after we got my uncle’s car back, our car got a flat tire…go figure. We heard a snake-like hissing, and once again we were forced to pull over and discovered the flat. So we had to unload the trunk to get tools and the spare, change the tire, and load everything back. It was then we decided that next time…we were going to fly.