January 7 – Stranded in Iceburgh

by Sharon Lippincott

Today began ordinarily enough. I slipped into my chocolate plush robe and headed for the coffee pot. I’m participating in Amber Starfire’s keyboard vs. paper journaling experiment, so I by-passed my lap desk and journal and headed into my cold cave to tap out a few thoughts.

The rest of the morning flew as I continued preparing materials for the Story Circle Writing for the Health of It class and my winter lifestory class at Carnegie Mellon scheduled to begin this afternoon. Just before noon I left for class. When the car started up, I felt a strange surge of relief, with a vague thought about the battery. Now why would I worry about that? I wondered.

Fifteen minutes later, traffic on the Parkway ground to halt. Obviously there was an accident inside the Squirrel Hill Tunnel and we would be sitting for at least ten minutes. Thank heavens I allowed plenty of extra time, I thought, turning off the car. Seventeen minutes later the light turned green on the tunnel entrance, and I reached for the key. The engine struggled twice, then went dead. My heart nearly stopped. The battery! I thought, recalling my premonition. Am I psychic?

I ran to the truck behind me, explaining my dilemma. In short order, he and another man pushed me onto the shoulder, then an emergency vehicle stopped and told me they’d alert the tunnel crew. Another man quickly showed up and pushed me across to a holding area in front of the tunnel. He gave me numbers to call a tow truck that arrived in minutes.

My dilemma was compounded by the fact that my Honey is on some tropical isle, leaving me stranded in Iceburgh to handle things on my own. After some thought, I called my ex-mechanic son in San Francisco–mostly because I could! I’ve had a cell phone for only a couple of years and never use it. He confirmed my decision.

The tow truck hauled me to our customary garage a mile from the house. The friendly fellow there promised to look at the car ASAP and gave me a ride up the hill.

Shortly after I walked in the door, the assistant class leader called. One of the fellows who has taken the class half a dozen times led a group discussion, and those who had brought stories read them. I was relieved, and they were glad to hear I was okay. All is well.

In spite what could seem like a terrible, horrible, awfully bad day, I feel richly blessed. Help arrived with near miraculous speed. I made strong decisions, and a tiny piece of plastic made everything easy. My “just in case” cell phone worked like a charm. I’m thrilled at the confirmation I’m not indispensable, that my students will carry on without me. The house is nice and warm again, and I just opened a fresh container of coffee. Life is good.

Sharon Lippincott survives icy winters in Pittsburgh where she teaches lifestory writing and Writing for the Health of It.


15 responses to “January 7 – Stranded in Iceburgh

  1. Fun story, Sharon (in retrospect, of course!). Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. In my experience, batteries go out only when you really, really need them not to. But isn’t it great what kind and helpful people, cell phones, and little pieces of plastic can do. I’m glad you got home safely and that life is good. I also look forward to seeing the results of the journaling experiment.

  3. Getting the bill for car repair is going to stretch that plastic! But it was quite a day, and I could write another post about how your experiment factored into this post.

  4. Uh-oh, what a day–and something we can all relate to! We lost two batteries this winter, and Peggy had to get hers replaced, too. Always happens at the very worst time. Glad you could summon the calm, the resources, and the energy to manage the situation so well. (Are you still leading your Story Circle? Don’t remember seeing it on our list, and we’d love to feature it if it’s continuing.)

  5. The good news is that it seems only to be the battery — the alternator is probably okay, though they won’t know until the new battery is in and charged. But … the hood release cable was broken. This is all good practice for a Woman-of-a-Certain-Age who never has taken care of these things on her own.

    Susan, with respect to your question about my Circle, I’m sad to say none of my writing groups or classes outside Story Circle have ever been eligible for Story Circle affiliation because all include men.

  6. Oh, Sharon, what a cascade of events. Frustrating, funny, and uplifting, all at the same time. Even if you’d recognized an intuitive “hit” before you left the house, would you have done anything differently?

    I have a little story to tell about dead batteries. I have a massage therapy friend who is also a Reiki master/teacher. She came out from work late one night after dark and found a dead battery in her van. Lonely place, no people, cold and dark (in TX, yet). Her solution? Reiki the battery! She did, and it started right up. LOL I don’t know how many times she did that before she finally bought a new one, but it sure gave me something to think about.

    Glad things worked out so well eventually for you. Sam

  7. Range Officer Rhonda

    I always love your positive attitude!

  8. Thanks Rhonda, sometimes it’s a challenge, but hey! Sure beats the alternative!

  9. Car trouble. Ugh. But, car trouble in a TUNNEL? Yikes! I’m glad you weren’t “stranded in Iceburgh” without helpful strangers and friends, your cool head, cell phone, plastic. Life is good.

  10. Andrea,
    Just to keep the record straight, I did not break down inside the tunnel, thank goodness. Indeed, there are no shoulders in there. The cause for my pause was a six-car pile-up in there. But … had I not died on the Parkway, quite likely my car would not have started after my class, and then I would have been in a parking garage, racking up extra fees while waiting for help.

  11. Ah, sorry for my careless reading! Still, ugh and yikes.

  12. Just wondering; is that a cell phone photo? You thought to take a photo?

  13. Well, no. I didn’t take that at the time. This was taken through the windshield once upon a time. I wouldn’t have dared step out onto the roadway that day, even if I’d had a camera.

  14. Sharon,
    Great story! Great to meet another SCN person in Pittsburgh! I’m taking my first class from Mary–Writing Family History–and enjoying it immensely.
    I’ll take your “journal test–paper or pixels” next.


  15. Kathryn,
    Good to hear you taking the journal challenge. Stop by my blog and send me an email so we can find each other in person.

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