Epic Fail

Or: How My Husband Spent His Birthday At A Truck Stop.

This has not been a great year for us in terms of celebrations. First, we missed our post-packout mountain getaway because a dorm fridge attacked my husband’s ankle.

Then he missed my birthday and our anniversary due to complications from said dorm fridge incident. (Although, I almost don’t count the birthday, since we’ve been separated so many times in mid-July due to being in some stage of moving. Terrible time to have a birthday, really. At least in the FS.)

Now, we did get that nice trip to Salzburg, when our son went on a school trip, which I’m not knocking. But we are not quite ready to leave our teenage son by himself when we go out of town, so our opportunities for getaways are still somewhat limited.

My adult daughter arrived from college Friday, so for my husband’s birthday, I had made reservations at a nice boutique hotel in Bratislava for an overnight date. Right on the old town square, with a Christmas market in full swing. I even had reservations at an award-winning Thai restaurant, so we could enjoy one of the things that is definitely lacking in Vienna: decent green curry.

Our car, which has never broken down before, and had been thoroughly checked out and was working fine before we left the States, has been in the shop three times here already. I personally do not think this can possibly be a coincidence. Especially not the snapped clutch cable. I mean, WTF. Did the shipping company drag this thing backwards all the way to Vienna?

Anyway, this last time, the shop guys were told to do a complete diagnostic and fix anything that needed fixing. It seems that we spent 400 Euros for them to replace the battery, clean the oak gunk out of the wiper slot, and turn the check engine light off. Oh yeah, and they washed it too, because its appearance offended them, I guess.

A couple of days later, the check engine light came on again, and we said, well, that’s it, maybe the light’s broken. The car seemed to be working fine. So, we headed out to Bratislava and it still worked fine—until suddenly it started making horrible noises and did not work. And we were stalled by the side of the highway, a few kilometers outside of Vienna.

I have to say, Austria is a pretty good country to break down in. No sooner had we popped the hood up and started hiking toward the nearest gas station, than a Polizei pulled up and offered to tow us. He couldn’t quite figure out how to hook the car up with a towing cable, so he then called a repair service for us. Who showed up about twenty minutes later, pulled us to a rest stop/gas station and gave things a look-see.

This guy had some ideas about the nature of the problem, concluded that he couldn’t fix it, and then kindly called a real towing service for us. Unfortunately, that guy couldn’t come for about three more hours, but at least we had a spotlessly clean truck stop cafe and bathroom available. They didn’t seem to mind that we camped out at a table for half the afternoon, and the apple strudel was downright tasty.

None of this could be said to make up for my poor husband having to spend his birthday at a truck stop. But, we couldn’t help saying: it sure could have been worse.

And, we got to ride in a really cool big truck! So big my feet didn’t touch the floor. With lots of dials and gadgets and things. I want one of these for my birthday 🙂

After dropping the car off at a different, and hopefully much more competent, repair shop, we were able to catch a tram a block away and get home with just one transfer. That’s the awesome thing about public transport here. Once you catch a bus or tram (which come by every few minutes, even on a Sunday) you are “plugged in” and can get home. Can you imagine what a pain this would be in Northern Virginia on a Sunday?

So, my lovely birthday present to my husband was an Epic Fail. But, it could have been worse. Fortunately, there was a good wine in the fridge when we got home. Now, off to see if I can at least round up something nice for dinner. Sigh.


  1. So sorry. At least you were close enough to home to get there after the afternoon diversion. Hope the repairs are not extensive. My son bought a used car in September that was a good deal. After the $1000 in repairs that came two months later, it was no longer such a good deal. Sigh. What I would give for public transportation here.


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