A few weeks ago, I attended the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association event to sign advanced copies of my 22nd book (or is it 23rd?), The Lonely Dead. Twenty years ago, I did my very first signing at PNBA in Eugene for my first book, Circles of Confusion (and signed it for JB of Seattle Mystery Books, which is sadly gone now).
Eugene is just 90 minutes from Portland, but at that time both my car and my husband's car were so old and crappy that we actually had an argument over whose car was worse. He said his was in better shape, and I should take it. It was a Subaru wagon that was old enough to vote and had what had once been a super cool "digital dash." Only most of it had stopped working. My husband's mechanic had installed an analog gauge for engine temperature by the handbrake. Right before I left, my husband insisted I take his cell phone (also a fairly new thing) because it came with a free service called "Mr Rescue." He also told me I should keep an eye on the analog gauge, as he thought the car might be overheating.
I promptly forgot that part. When I was 38 miles from Eugene (I only knew because I kept thinking how long it would be before I could hit the restroom) the car began to slow down even though I had my foot on the accelerator.
You guessed it (especially if you ever owned an older Subaru). I had blown the head gasket. I called Mr. Rescue, which turned out to be some lady in a room in Florida with maybe some phone books and maps. She did not understand "38 miles from Eugene." She wanted the name of a town. Finally she dispatched a tow truck driver on speed who had been up for three days straight. I remembering trying to bond with him in the hopes he wouldn't kill me. He did not, and dropped me off at a truck stop.
I called my husband, who buckled our toddler in my old car, drove down, rescued me, and took me to the signing - and I was not even all that late! And he never, ever said one bad word about me not watching his precious car (he loved it so much he would paint tiny scratches on the bumper with model paint) or the thousands of dollars it cost to get it fixed.