A Tragic Comedy in 6 Acts

If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to tell you a story. This story doesn’t have anything to do with biking, but it is such a story, that if it hadn’t happened in my presence, I would not believe it. And it is too good not to share.

Let me set the scene. The location: Charlottesville, VA. The main characters: Rachel and a ’99 Cadillac Catera. The supporting cast: Myself, Shannon, Adam (a Mellow Mushroom bartender), The Ponytail and The Accent (AAA guys), and a helpful motorcyclist.

Act One

Shannon, Rachel, and myself drive down to Charlottesville early Saturday to look at apartments. Rachel, my current housemate, will be moving to Charlottesville in a few months time. We look at apartments, eat lunch, explore the University of Virginia campus, take shelter when the tornado siren goes off, have coffee. We decide it’s time to go.

Tornado weather at UVA

Act Two

The plot thickens. Rachel cannot find her keys. We start retracing our long, circuitous path around Charlottesville/UVA to make sure they haven’t miraculously fallen out of her purse and are still sitting on the ground somewhere. To no one’s surprise, our search is futile.

Act Three

Rachel calls AAA. She’s going to have them unlock her car and make her a new key. It will be an hour before they get to her car, so we head back to the Mellow Mushroom to hang out. While there, Rachel gets a call from AAA. Apparently her car is a…special needs car. It has a special type of key and they said there are no locksmiths in the area who can make her a new key. This makes things a lot more difficult. She has a spare key in Maryland, but how to get it? Have our other roommate in MD FedEx it down to C’ville? But this means we’d have to stay overnight down here. Take the train back to DC, get the key, train back? With only one train in the morning and one in the evening, we’d still have to stay overnight. Plus no trains on Sunday. Have someone come get us? The only people I’d ask to do that for us was already in C’ville. We go around and around. We decide to have AAA send someone to unlock the car so we can make double sure the keys aren’t in the car. We then go back to Mellow Mushroom to hang out until they come. While there, we make friends with the cute bartender, Adam. He says he’ll try and find someone who can hot wire the car. No luck. While at the bar, Shannon comes up with the great idea to rent a car. Genius, Shannon. Why’d you wait until now to bring it up?

Act Four

The AAA guys finally arrive. They are two creepers, one with a unacceptably long ponytail (aka TweedleIncompetent) and one with an impenetrable Southern accent (aka TweedlePervert), both with cigarettes dangling out of their mouths. As the ponytail gets to work on the door, the accent tries to get us to drink, all while generally being creepy. The ponytail is having a hard time with the door. He’s working and working, making lots of dissatisfied noises. He soon reveals that this car is unnaturally hard to break into. Good for car security, not good for us, but fits perfectly into this unfolding comedy. The accent’s job seems to be to try and get us to drink while making inappropriate comments. He soon notices a girl wandering around in her sports bra/workout gear in an apartment. He points this out to us. We are not impressed.

Myself and Shannon amusing ourselves while the Tweedles work.

The ponytail then tries a new method to unlock the car, this time with the back door. He finally succeeds, but the second the door is open, the alarm goes off. And of course we can’t shut it off because the keys with the remote is lost. Then we realize that the driver’s side front door won’t open- the lock the won’t disengage. Which is where only key hole is. Which means it will not open and the alarm will not go off. While Rachel kneels on passenger seat to try and get the driver’s door open, the accent remarks that “She’s got nice hindquarters for a New Yorker Yankee derrière. Is she from upstate?” to me and Shannon. We are not impressed.

Act Five

We leave the Tweedles and take a cab to the airport to pick up our car. I drive. We get back to DC at about 12:30am. I can barely see, I’m so tired.

Act Six

Rachel heads back to Charlottesville. Once she gets back to her car, she realizes that the key won’t open the door. No surprise. Then she realizes that not only does the alarm go off every time the door is open, starting the car doesn’t stop it either. It does go off after about 4 minutes, but that’s 4 minutes of sitting in the car with a car alarm screaming. As she waits for it to shut off, helpful people walk buy, offering advice such as “if you hit the button, it’ll turn off.” Once she gets going, she realizes she’s a prisoner in her own car, as when she opens the door, the alarm will go off. However, her empty gas tank and empty stomach, intervene. Climbing out passenger side door to get gas sets off the alarm. Which causes the station to shut down her pump. So her alarm is going crazy and she walks into the store to pay in cash while people judge. And just like the honey badger, she doesn’t give a shit- they have no idea what she’s been through. While she is in the store, her alarm shuts off, but crawling back into the car sets it off again. This time she doesn’t wait for the alarm to stop before driving away- she’s made enough friends here already. As she’s sitting at a stoplight with the alarm screaming, a man on a motorcycle rolls up beside her, motioning for her to roll down her window. She does. “Try pressing the button on your remote.” Thanks.


The car sits in our driveway unlocked. This is fine because the alarm still goes off whenever the door opens, deterring any thieves. Which is what we assumed happened this morning at 6, when the car alarm went off. When Rachel goes to drive it to the dealer, first she can’t get it started, then she can’t get it to drive, then the alarm starts going off randomly while she driving.

Rachel is distressed that her car wont start

She makes it to the dealer. And now awaits her fate.

Despite the drama, the trip was a success, as Rachel did find an apartment and discover that Charlottesville will be a lovely place to live for a year. And neither Shannon or myself begrudge Rachel of depriving us of a nice, calm weekend. Seriously.


4 thoughts on “A Tragic Comedy in 6 Acts

  1. Shannon

    Let’s get the facts straight, the Yankee derrière comment was as follows: “She’s got nice hindquarters for a New Yorker. Is she from upstate?” That deserves a direct quote 🙂

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