With respect to Mr. Robot…
I am currently sitting in a Hyatt Place hotel on the west coast of Florida drinking wine and, well, writing this. Getting here was no small picnic. Here’s the “good parts” version.
AIR CONDITIONING. The prologue to this crazy tale is, hopefully, not foreshadowing. The A/C unit in our apartment began to decline in health last weekend and finally died Monday night. After two evenings of sleeping in 80+ degree weather, the A/C repair guy stopped by and declared out it completely unrepairable. This was the same day we found out we had to evacuate Vero Beach, Florida.
EVACUATION. I live by the beach. By “by the beach” – I mean it takes me five minutes and ten seconds from my front door to putting my feet in the Atlantic Ocean. This is awesome 99% of the time. The other 1% is happening right now: a hurricane. I knew it was “bad” when I was on the phone early yesterday when ABC news showed up to start filming on my beach. Later updates revealed that I was now living in a *mandatory* evacuation area. As a result of these actions, I put together a plan to get us the hell out of Dodge.
ORLANDO. We packed the Mustang and the Scion xB with our irreplaceable items and moved everything off the floor to higher ground (the couches, the bed, etc.) in the apartment. If flooding was going to occur, we wanted to minimize the damage and clean up. Then, I cut off the water and the power to everything except the refrigerator. Using hotel reward points, I scored a room at the Hyatt Place on International Drive. Shannon and I drove up, got dinner, and relaxed in the room last night. We slept in, got breakfast, and walked around the outlet malls for a couple of hours. (Shannon scored a new pair of running shoes.) Early afternoon we finally hit the road for part two of my impromptu hurricane plane… but that got derailed.
MUSTANG. After about 30 minutes on the road, I got an error message I had never seen before on my car’s onboard computer: CHECK CHARGING SYSTEM. The battery light came on, and my years of being a “car guy” told me that my alternator had just crapped out. Now, to be fair, the alternator in the Mustang has never been changed and the car is now eight years old with over 150,000 miles on it – so I can’t really be that upset. The timing, though, couldn’t suck more. SO, I turned off the A/C, stereo, lights, and every non-essential system to try to keep the car running on battery power as long as possible. The closest mechanic wasn’t too far way, so there was a solid chance I could make it.
Once I got close to 192 (Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy), though, all hope was thrown out the window since I hit a traffic jam. Every tap of the brakes killed the battery just a little bit more and there was no way to avoid it. I watched the ABS system go out. Then the traction system. Then the car stereo display. I got two miles – TWO MILES – from the mechanic I had found on my phone (Pep Boys) and she gave up the ghost at a 7-11.
Here was the problem: if I called AAA to come out and tow the car, we would be stuck for *hours* due to the mass exodus of people driving away from the hurricane. Options were truly limited. I had Shannon, who was following me in the Scion, drive me the two miles to Pep Boys where I bought new battery for the Mustang. My plan? Run the car on pure battery (no alternator) to make it the next two miles. Cut down what could be a 2+ hour inconvenience to less than 45 minutes.
I got the battery. I grabbed my tools out of the trunk. I swapped the battery. I got the car to the mechanic. I let out a Tim Taylor grunt because, at that moment, I WAS A MAN.
The Mustang is at the mechanic locked safely in their building riding out the storm. Shannon and I continued our drive. I’ll drive back to pick it up this weekend.
TAMPA. We got to Tampa earlier this evening and grabbed dinner at Shells Seafood down the road. I ran my two miles in the hotel gym and spent 45 minutes on a scheduled 10:30 PM conference call in California. On top of all that, today would have been Karma the Dog’s 14th birthday.
What a day, right?
So here I am. Hammering away on my MacBook Air and drinking wine while Shannon watches Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix on her laptop.
It might not be a perfect life. There will always be challenges and struggles like the ones in this post; but you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Be safe, Florida. It’s going to be a long night ahead.