Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Oooo! That water's cold! (and deep!)

We had a real frog-strangler yesterday. Rain came down in buckets all day long, causing people to do the usual idiotic "OhMahGodIt'sRaining" things, myself included.

I commute into a Park & Ride every day, and while leaving downtown on the bus last night, things didn't seem all that bad. I should have remembered that buses have 30" tires.

By the time we arrived at the Park & Ride, the rain had nearly stopped, and there weren't that many wrecks or stalls that I could see. I drove out of the P&R, got on the feeder to take my usual route home.

The problem is, coming up to the intersection of Post Oak and the I-10 feeder, you approach it at a sharp angle and slope, so you can't see down Post Oak until you make the turn.

I took the turn. Big mistake. Instead of the usual 4 lane divided street, there was now the Post Oak Bayou, running deep and wide. Cars were still making it through, but they were up to their hubcaps. I had about 2 seconds to make an illegal U-turn and go back down the feeder, but the line of cars behind me was backing up, and I thought "I can make this!". Bzzzt. Wrong answer.

I just might have made it through, except for two things. #1, I don't have my truck anymore. I no longer have 18" of ground clearance, and an engine sitting another 12" above that. The PimpSled's door sills sit about 10" off the deck.

#2, I didn't anticipate the wake thrown up by buses & trucks heading the other direction. I was halfway through the mess, following the other cars, when some idjit bus driver came rolling along at 25 mph or so, and threw up a wake the size of your average tidal wave. Suddenly water is momentarily up over the wheels, over the hood, and the PimpSled says "That's all, Cap." Bleah. Dead engine, and I'm in deep shiat.

I don't bother to turn on the flashers. Every time a vehicle rolls by, I'm getting water over the gunwales. I spot an entrance to a parking lot into an office complex that's not completely underwater, look down at my nice work shoes and say "Nice knowing ya!", then get out to push this 3800 lb. beast through shin-deep water.

That's some effing hard work, lemme tell ya. That ramp up the driveway nearly killed me, but I got the PimpSled up it. The back tires were still covered up to the bottom of the rim, but it looked safe for the moment.

I called AAA, only to hear gales of laughter as I requested a tow ASAP. So many people were wrecked or stalled, that their next available driver could be there by New Year's Day or thereabouts. Mierda. Spit. Dirty drawers.

By this time, two other cars had stalled out, so I was not alone in my misery. To add to the joy of the occasion, the skyfaucets turned on again full blast, and I beat a retreat to the covered awning by the nearest office. I'm sitting there cursing the rain, when I notice that the water level is rising. Each passing bus moves a higher wave of water, and now the PimpSled's back tires are up to their hubs. Dammit! I try to do the King Canute thing, and force the water to cease rising by force of will, but that ain't working out too well.

Eventually, I bow to the inevitable, head into the deluge and push the car a little higher. Now I'm soaked, the inside of the car (and my leather seats...) are soaked. If you thought I was PO'ed earlier, now I've got steam rising off my brow. Actually, I did, now that I think about it. I noticed my breath was condensing, though it wasn't all that cold, and later saw vapor rising off my wet shirt.

I offered my cell phone to the woman in the nearest car, but she waved hers back at me. She was still in the road, but as she made no indication of wanting to get out and push her car beside mine, I beat a retreat to the awning and settled in to wait.

The rain slacked off a bit, and I went and retrieved a book from the car to help pass the time. Reading standing up via the light from a streetlight is not quite what I had in mind for the evening.

Eventually, the rain died off completely, and the drain grate in the parking lot driveway started looking like a bathtub drain whirlpool instead of a fountain, so the water was finally falling intstead of rising.

I kept trying the engine every 30 minutes or so, and after hour #2, it finally turned over. The woman in the silver Mitsubishi's boyfriend finally arrived, and I helped push her car up into the parking lot while my battery was charging. After they were high & dry, I snaked through the office park, and found a route that put me past the high water and on the road home.

So, lessons learned...

1) Cadillac Fleetwood sedans and high water do NOT mix.

2) Dress shoes never recover from a soaking like that. Next time I get out of the car in my sock feet.

3) Carry a rain slicker in the trunk. The shirt and pants will be OK, but the silk tie will never be the same, I fear.

4) Just take the day off next time it rains like that.

Stay dry, buckaroos!