Touring the Carolinas Again and Again and Again…

These past couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing truth-is-stranger-than-fiction real life events, and I’ve been sharing various stories of odd circumstances of places I’ve lived.  For today’s Throwback Thursday, I want to conclude the “Rachel’s various houses” portion of the discussion by telling you the very strange thing(s) that happened when I moved from New York back to Florida.  (And though I know this post is long, if you’re in the mood to laugh, I think you’ll want to read it.)

My kids and I moved to New York when the kids were small, and my sister moved in with us shortly thereafter.  We lived there a few years until the events of 9/11 as well as the high cost of living propelled us back toward Florida.

As we prepared to leave the Empire State, two friends, Scott and John, flew up from Florida to help us drive the moving truck which was a yellow Penske.  I drove my car with my son, and my sister Michelle drove her car with my daughter and our cat Miles.  We planned to follow each other in a caravan.  This was in late 2001, and back then, cellphones weren’t nearly as popular as they are today, and the out-of-area fees were astronomical.  As such, Michelle and I both had our cellphones disconnected before we left New York, and Scott and John left their cellphones home in Florida (so we had no way to communicate between vehicles).

On the day we moved, we got a late start because the first Penske overheated, and the guys had to take it back and exchange it before we packed it.  My sister and I each had a small suitcase that we wanted left out of the truck so they could go in our cars to use when we stopped that night.  But guys being guys (no offense, men!), Scott and John failed to listen to the directions and actually tossed my suitcase in the Penske first as they hastily loaded the truck to make up for lost time.  Michelle and I were in the house bringing boxes downstairs, so we didn’t see this happen and were unable to stop them.

We finally started driving around dinnertime, and while I could normally drive in my car from New York to Florida straight through, the Penske we used had a 55 MPH regulator on it, so we would have to stop for the night.  As we approached Maryland, that Penske started overheating, just as the original one had.  We all pulled off the side of the road, and I got out to see what was happening.  John was asleep, and Scott asked me to climb up and hold something under the hood while he tried to restart the truck.  But when I climbed up, my jeans snagged on something, and the entire right leg ripped off at the top of my thigh!  It was hanging on only by a thin strip of denim, and I looked every bit as foolish as I felt.

(Right now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just cut off the other leg and make shorts, right?  Because the leg that ripped off was WAAAYY too short, so the other leg would’ve had to be that short to match, and I would have been arrested.  Or I could have cut the other leg longer, but then it would just look like I was drunk and didn’t know how to cut straight.  At least this way, people could probably figure out that something bizarre had happened, and they wouldn’t assume I was just a pervert!)

We got the truck going again and managed to get through Washington, D.C. and into Virginia where we got a hotel room.  Michelle was happy to be able to change and brush her teeth, however, my kids and I didn’t have that luxury, since our suitcase was stuck in the far end of the truck behind everything we owned!

The next day, we woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast before we started our caravan again.  As we pulled onto the highway, I ended up in front, and my sister was behind me, and the Penske was in back. I drove slowly enough so that the Penske could catch up and pass me, but as it passed, Michelle got stuck behind someone else.  Wed decided before we started that if we got separated, we’d stop at the next state’s Welcome Center, so I knew Michelle would eventually find us.  But the Penske was going faster that it had gone before, and Scott was making me angry because he wouldn’t wait for all of us!  So, I sped up and managed to get back in front of the Penske until we got to the South Carolina border.  Michelle was nowhere in sight, and I pulled over into the Welcome Center to flag down Scott and wait.

But as I pulled off the highway, I looked back and realized that it was not Scott and John in the speeding Penske at all, but it was two strangers!  I waited there until Michelle found me, and we waited another half hour for Scott and John, but they never came.  We felt certain they must’ve been behind us, so we both doubled back and got off at every single exit (Yes, really!) in North Carolina until we reached the southernmost exit in Virginia where we’d left them after breakfast.  We found the Penske — and all our belongings — on the side of the interstate, but Scott and John were nowhere to be found!

Michelle and the kids and I went to every single store and restaurant on that exit, and it seemed that everywhere we went, we’d just missed Scott and John by an hour or less.  And of course, people were staring at me with my one-legged pervert jeans.  Finally, we went back to where the Penske had been parked, but it was gone!  We finally decided that we’d have to get to Florida on our own and they could find their own way.  So we drove back through North Carolina before we had to get gas.  We just happened to stop at a truck stop at the southernmost exit of North Carolina where, when we went inside to use the restroom and pay for the gas (and so I could model my fashionable one-legged pervert pants), we saw Scott and John sitting at a table inside!  Apparently the truck overheated again, and that particular truck stop was the only one in the state authorized to repair those rental trucks!

By the time the truck was repaired, it was late, and we were all exhausted.  So we drove as far as the southern part of South Carolina and had to spend another night.  (Of course, everyone knew the real reason we stopped was because I wanted to show off my special pants to the residents of South Carolina who hadn’t yet gotten to see them.)

By this time, the Carolinas felt like The Hotel California (because we could never leave), none of us smelled very good, and we were sick of driving.  But at least the hotel had a laundry facility.  So my kids and I had to shower and sit in towels while my sister did our laundry so that my special half-shorts would be clean.  Of course we were still brushing our teeth with our fingers, and I wanted to throttle Scott and John for putting my suitcase in the truck when we specifically asked them not to!  (I didn’t want to go to a store and pay for extra toothbrushes and clothes, not knowing what kind of additional expenses might lie ahead.)

The next morning, we went to leave, but it was par for the course when we discovered that my car wouldn’t start!  We called a mechanic who came out and told us that my timing belt had broken.  Grrr!  However, it was a federal holiday, and his parts supplier was closed as well as several others.  He called around and found the only place that had my part in stock and that was open was in the northern part of North Carolina.


So Scott and John decided to go ahead and head to Florida, while Michelle drove my kids and cat and me back through South and North Carolina to pick up the part and so I could show off my pants some more, then back through North then South Carolina to deliver the part to the mechanic.  And we had to wait in Michelle’s car for hours while the mechanic fixed my car because we couldn’t leave the cat if we got out.  (Plus, we couldn’t afford to bail me out of jail when I got arrested for my pervert pants.)

(As a funny side note, the car was packed tightly, so there wasn’t enough room for everyone to have a seat.  Stefani squished in the back, and Jeremy had to sit on the back floor between some stuff.  {I know, seatbelts!  But we had no choice.}  We’d all been to a Peter Noone {of Herman’s Hermits} concert recently, where Peter kept saying, “Shut your pie hole!”  So, little eight-year old Jeremy, not realizing that a pie hole is a mouth, kept saying, “Look at me!  I’m sitting in the pie hole!”  He cracked us up during the whole ordeal!)

Meanwhile, the Penske broke down again in Georgia, and apparently Scott and John were stranded for several hours before it was fixed again.  I’m sure that it took them longer to get the truck fixed that time because I wasn’t there to look pathetic in my half-pants which is seriously why I’m positive that the mechanic that fixed my car took pity and helped us on his day off.

When we left the mechanic with my car finally running, we started once again for Florida, but we quickly discovered that Michelle had left her purse in the restroom at the parts store in the top of North Carolina!  So, yes, we drove both cars yet again up through South and North Carolina and then back down through North and South Carolina before we kept heading to Florida without any other incident other than having to stop for food in Georgia so the citizens there could get a good look at my special pants.

Talk to me.  Have you ever had an eventful move? Have you ever been embarrassed by a wardrobe malfunction?  Next week, our Truth is Stranger than Fiction Series will explore the nocturnal world of somnambulism.



18 thoughts on “Touring the Carolinas Again and Again and Again…

  1. Oh, yeah…the move from northern North Carolina to the Florida panhandle: getting separated from our guide and most of our household goods in Atlanta at 2 AM and having to find our way to our destination on our own. Then, from Florida to Indiana: driving a U-haul with 3 kids in the front seat, and pulling a car trailer, and the car jam-packed (inside and on the roof), plus a dog and two cats…. ‘Nuff said. Otherwise, I’ll have to go back on medication.

  2. Omg the things that happen to you lol! I have another friend like you…stuff just happens to her! Not fun at the time but great writing fodder for later on! Oh the image of you in your half pants! I think it will haunt me forever! Hehe!

  3. Oh my Lord Rachel, I hate to say how much enjoyment I got out of reading about something so miserable and frustrating…but every time you mentioned your special half-shorts, I laughed until I finally had tears in my eyes. I guess it’s funny in hindsight, right? 😀 -Kate

    • LOL! Actually, it was pretty funny at the time as well. If I can make a stressful time into a funny story, I usually try to recognize that right away and go with it. I only wish I would have had a camera with me at the time. LOL! 😀

  4. That, my friend Rachel, is not an eventful move. That is an ordeal that would force most people to never again rent a Penske truck, drive through any state that had the words North, South or Carolina in them, or wear jeans. What a freaking nightmare.

    • LOL! You just reminded me of Albert Brooks’ movie Lost in America when he forbids his wife to say “nest egg.” The Carolinas are okay, but, yes, Penskes are now forbidden. 😀

  5. Of course if this were a ‘real’ road trip movie you would have simply murdered Michelle in some terrible way; stolen her clothes and carried on regardless – plainly you would have to have set up a few clues in order to apportion guilt on the chaps. GREAT POST.

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