Chaos Attraction

Driving the Old School Way

2018-10-03, 6:50 a.m.

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My phone jack was jacked. I woke up to find that it was refusing to charge because of “moisture in the USB port,” despite the phone not ever getting even close to water. I pointed my blow dryer at the port for at least fifteen minutes and it continued to refuse to charge.

This jack had been giving me issues for a while. It had developed a “loose port” and the USB cord would fall out at the slightest breath of air, which I coped with for once until I found a nice cell phone repair place in the next town over and the guy cleaned the port and it was fine. Except now it wasn’t.

I reasonably assumed the whole damn port needed repairing, but I only had about an hour that day to drive out to the next town and back before I had a class. I did a Google search for “cell repair place” and got the address of one on Main Street, which from what I vaguely recalled was what the place was located on. I’’d had a hard enough time finding the place the first time--it was in some obscure shopping center by the WalMart--with GPS. Resorting to Mapquest instructions, I drove over there as fast as I could--and when I arrived, it was some other cell phone place, apparently on the dead opposite side of Main Street...which is a looooooooong street. Desperate, I went into this one anyway, where I found a girl fixing a cell phone with some kind of “I am the boss lady!” name plate. I tried explaining that my phone was claiming to have moisture when it didn’t actually and she was all, “Android? We don’t do that.” I would have expected some explanation like “We only do Apple” or something like that, but instead she went on about putting the phone in a bag of rice, and I was all, that’s not the issue...Then she took a phone call for a while while I stood there, thinking, “Why don’t I just leave right now? Clearly she ain’t gonna do jack.” And indeed, when she got off her phone, the final line was, delivered in an incredibly perky tone, “Well, what do you expect ME to do about it?”

I said, “Thanks a lot!” and walked out, wishing I had told her off. I’m way too used to having to play nice with jerkasses who won’t do their jobs, in fear that they’ll treat me even worse if I’m obviously mad at them. But clearly I’m never seeing this bitch again, so why didn’t I tell her off? Or say “if your job is to repair cell phones, why are you refusing to repair cell phones?” Or “you could have just said no.” Argh. Anyway, I was out of time to get the phone fixed, so I tried to drive down Main Street looking for the NICE place, never found it, gave up for the night.

The next day I found the right phone place and found the nice guy I’d talked to before, who said he’d try to replace the jack and see if that worked--but that’d be at least 48 hours of no phone. And this was a Wednesday. But...what can you do?

Here’s the challenge of that day, though:
(a) I had to drive to Sacramento for my writer’s group meeting, which I could not skip because they were critiquing my story and also a friend of mine was returning some of my stuff.
(b) Once again, I was having to resort to Mapquest instructions to take a route there I didn’t know,
(c) Guess what? It’s the second day of rain for the rainy season...and the rain JUST KICKED IN when I started. And my car does not cooperate with driving in the rain well--it either steams up or the windshield wipers work terribly no matter what brand I try this time. And I hadn’t even replaced them for the year yet.

I pretty much haven’t driven by myself without GPS. After I finally got my license late in life, I caved in and got a smartphone with GPS, which I put on even when I know where I’m going, just in case there’s traffic or I do something stupid. I like to know it’s there as backup. I don’t know how people older than me managed to drive without it, because once I hit the freeway I kept thinking things like “What if something happens to the car and I’m stuck at night on the side of the road all alone with a vagina?”

It had been a sunny day back home, but now I was driving into a black cloud. OF COURSE I WAS. There was a lovely rainbow over the freeway, which I loved and wanted to photograph...except I didn’t have my phone. And the traffic was at a near standstill for virtually the entire time I was on the freeway, slowly creeping along while the drops of water got bigger and bigger. It was so slow at one point I started crocheting in the car. YEAH. I KNOW. Though I was relieved that if the traffic was that slow, I wasn’t also having to drive with a face full of car backwash and bad windshield wipers, so there was that. I crept along for at least an hour until I finally hit my exit, Richards Boulevard, where I realized that i had no goddamned idea where the hell I was in Sacramento and nothing at all was familiar. And the traffic was still creeping along, incredibly slowly to go anywhere. I kept listening to the “Come From Away” soundtrack, which if you don’t know is a musical about planes being grounded in Newfoundland on 9/11...and everyone in the show just wants some phones.

I was trying to get onto Highway160, the transition highway between one area of Sacramento and another. I’d been on it before, coming at it from other areas, but as I crept even slower and slower along Richards Blvd, and not seeing any signs at all for this, I kept thinking, am I in the right place? Am I lost? Am I going to have to pull over and god help me, ask another human for directions like it’s 1950? I’m terrible with verbal directions! I won’t understand anything anybody tells me! How the hell am I going to get home, much less to the meeting? What happens if I never show up and I can’t tell anyone where I am? How the hell did people handle this ambiguity before GPS?!

Very eventually, it turned out that I was on 160, and even though I still didn’t recognize where the hell I was, I felt slightly better. By the time I got into the territory I did know by the state fair, I was relieved. I got this, right?...and then when I finally turned onto Howe Avenue, the location of the meeting….well, Howe’s another very long street, and that one as well was very, very slowly creeping along (I later found out a big stoplight was out farther up the street). And I was behind a bus.

I got there over an hour and a half later, exhausted. But I survived.


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