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I Lost My Tranny in the Blue Ridge Mountains Part I

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

I lost my car in the Blue Ridge Mountains this week. It wasn’t my idea, quite the contrary. My transmission decided to off itself eastbound on Interstate 64 in Short Pump, VA. Beautiful country out there, especially in late October. I had plenty of time to take it all in sitting on a guardrail along the highway as a thousand cars and trucks sped by.


I was heading home to Florida from Connecticut. The first 450 miles were about perfect. I started early, ahead of Saturday traffic, was well rested and feeling good. I64 is spectacular. It runs straight through the Blue Ridge Mountains then east to Richmond.



I was taking in the sights, listening to music when I heard a motorcycle engine. Only thing is, there was no motorcycle. It was my engine racing as I pressed the accelerator and the car slowed down. I Immediately knew what it was, and on a 17-year-old car with 220k miles, it was obvious this was the last few hundred yards it was ever going to go. I was only 750 miles short of my destination.


So that's what it's like when your transmission fails.


Breathe Deep and Slow Down



I could have freaked but I calmly pulled over, turned on the flashers, got out with my phone and decided I was going to make something good happen out of this. I did the usual AAA call for a tow then planned several options for strategies to get home.


AAA was barely any help as the first agent disconnected from me. The second was more helpful but it took a half hour to find a tow. For good measure, she asked me to stay on the line at the end to take a survey about her performance. No problem. I'm only trying to avoid dying standing alongside the highway.


Why Are They Beeping?


Aside from a friendly VA state trooper, no one stopped, but there was no reason to. A lot of them beeped at me though, and I still can’t figure out why. I’m an old guy, not a pretty girl, and I was obviously in a bad place. The only thing I can reason is that is some people’s way of saying “I’m with you, bro. Best of luck.” A few were probably mocking me too, but I’ll never know.



Two hours later, Glenn Nuckols Wrecker Service showed up. Glenn has the thickest southern accent ever and is as good a guy as there is. He and his grandson, who he was training to take over for him, got my car up on the truck in no time and brought me along for the ride to BP Williams Auto in Richmond.



Aiken, the friendly young lady working the phone at Williams, was a welcome and calming voice on the phone as I sat alongside the highway. I expected someone who didn’t care but she actually seemed to give a shit. She was the same in person.


Even though it was too late for them to work on my car at 4 on a Saturday, I somehow didn’t mind when she told me they can’t get to it until Monday. And I know they won’t be able to fix the car for under 3K. That's good customer service. Note to BP Williams: Hold on to Aiken.


I guess I’m staying in Richmond for a couple days. I'll work from the hotel Sunday then deal with the devil on Monday. I'm lucky to be stranded in such a nice a place as this.


End of Part I



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