Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

TidBits About Donna #40 Nearly-Stranded Traveler

The stranded traveler. That’s me … and David as we journeyed from our childhood homes in Erie, Pennsylvania to our current home outside of New York City. We’ve made this trek many times over countless years, but this is the first time that we nearly became stranded. What a helpless, frustrating feeling that is!

The trip was progressing nicely as it usually does. In recent years we break the ten-hour trip into two segments with an overnight in Painted Post or Johnson City near Binghamton, New York. On this weekend, we planned to stay at the Econo Lodge in Painted Post. We like it for the bog across the field, which emits the constant music of tree frogs, crickets, and a variety of other wildlife. It’s relaxing after the hours in the car. They also serve homemade chocolate chip cookies and popcorn. Yum! (Oops! This time the popcorn machine was broken – disappointment!)

After relaxing at the hotel for a few hours, we set off in search of a restaurant. We drove the five miles to East Market Street in Corning and settled on Sonora’s for Mexican food. I circled the block a few times and found a parking spot right outside the restaurant. What luck! When I hopped out of the car, I realized what a miserable parallel-parking job I had done. I must have been about three feet from the curb. What was I thinking?  So I jumped back into the car to straighten it out. I plunged the key into the ignition and NOTHING! Not a sputter! Not even a gasp! The car was DEAD! Luck gone bad!

We decided to let the car rest for awhile – hoping it just needed some time to cool off. After all we had driven it hard for more than four hours and the outside temperatures were hovering near 110 heat-index. I spied a bead store next to the Mexican restaurant. Of course, I can’t pass up a bead store. It’s called the Soulshine Studio. What a cool name! The owner, a young woman, named Ann, was closing up the shop for the day. The lights were out. She was pulling in her sandwich board advertisements from the sidewalk and taking down her decorative flag. She saw my interest, flipped on the light switch, and invited me in. We chatted for a bit. I learned that she had only opened her studio a few months before. We talked about different beads and some of her jewelry projects and some of mine. I’m afraid I was too distracted to purchase anything, but I will the next time I visit. I told her of my car woes and as we said our goodbyes, we exchanged wishes of luck and good fortune.

I returned to the car and with no change, I called AAA. After Ann locked up, she stopped by my car to offer help. She offered us a ride back to the hotel. She gave me her business card and said to call her anytime, if I still needed help. I was flabbergasted and touched by her genuine offer. I am not used to this reaction in the NYC area, where people don’t offer help – don’t even make eye contact as you pass on them on the street, actually. I thanked her and slipped her card into my phone case.

We decided to wait for the AAA serviceman in the restaurant and have dinner, but before we even ordered, he arrived. He checked the battery and charged it. It purred sweetly – music! He said it was OK, but suggested that I not turn the car off until I reached the hotel. (That sounds suspect.) So I let the car idle and returned to the restaurant. I ordered a quesadilla. David ordered a chili relleno and a bean taco. But we both lost our appetites, as we worried about the car. The waiter packed our dinners to go and we limped back to the hotel.

The next morning after a fitful sleep or, more accurately, lack of sleep, I finally confronted the car to see if it held its charge. I clicked the door opener and, to my surprise and jubilance, it opened. But within minutes my spirits plummeted as I plunged the key into the ignition and it stuck there – no movement. It was sadly apparent my car was on permanent vacation.

Rosemary, (I think that was her name.) the hotel desk manager, was gracious enough to guide me to the nearest Ford dealer and she called several hotels near the dealer for possible  accommodations, if the repairs were serious and we had to remain overnight. Tom, another manager, kindly offered to jump the battery with his cables and soon I was off again. (Glad I didn’t have to wait for AAA). I dared not stop the car until I reached my destination. I headed straight to the Ford dealer in Elmira Heights. Fortunately, the car service manager took pity on me and had one of his mechanics check my battery. He found the battery deader than a doornail. I don’t know what a doornail is, but the battery was definitely DEAD. The battery-checker machine said BAD BATTERY! Frankly, I was delighted with this news, since I knew that would be an easy fix. (The AAA serviceman never suggested a dead battery. Remember, he told me the battery looked good.)

Anyway, the uneventful ending of this adventure was that after about an hour, we were on our five-and-a-half-hour trip back home. And … we made it! I shut the car off several times as we stopped for rest breaks. As a precaution though, I backed into every parking spot to be sure that if I needed a jump, the battery would be accessible.

What is life without adventures? This adventure brought me together with a kind soul who made my heart shine. Thank you, Ann for your concern and help.


Ann, I am so grateful to you for your offer of assistance. It meant so much to me when I was overwhelmed. David and I often stop in Corning on our way to Erie, and I hope to stop by your store the next time we come through. Good luck with Soulshine. It looks great.


July 23, 2011 - Posted by | TidBits About Donna | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. glad you guys made it!!! Yikes!

    Comment by Growing Flowers | July 23, 2011 | Reply

  2. Another adventure! But we had some very nice people in Corning and Painted Post who offered their help.

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | August 8, 2011 | Reply

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