Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Just Wanted To Go Shopping

So yesterday the accelerator pedal on my Toyota minivan got stuck while I was flying down the highway. I know what you're thinking ... how clich├ęd, right? My minivan isn't even one of the model years listed in the Toyota recalls.

They're never going to believe me, ran on a loop in my head as I tried to unstick the pedal, closely followed by I'm going to die a horrible, fiery death. And by "they" I was mostly thinking of Toyota and my husband, not you my blog readers. I mean, I love writing this blog, but it didn't exactly make the cut for "Things To Think About in Your Last Ten Seconds On This Earth." Sorry.

Here's how it all went down:

I merge onto the highway, heading to a store in search of a non-jeans-and-hoodie outfit for Bear to wear to her oboe recital this weekend. The pick-up truck in the right-hand lane moves to the left-hand lane to allow me to merge. All is good. I ponder exactly how girly of a dress I can buy for Bear without her refusing to wear it. Not very, I'm guessing.

As I come up to another on-ramp I see a semi on it preparing to merge. Unable to move over, since Mr. Pick-Up is still driving in the left-hand lane beside me, I decide to speed up to get out of the semi's way. Speed up I do - to about 75 mph.

Once clear, I brake lightly to slow down. Something feels weird. Glancing at the speedometer, I see that despite my foot on the brake (visual check here, yup, that's the brake), the needle is still inching up - 80 mph now. Okaaaay... that's not normal.

I brake harder. 85 mph. Huh.

Freaking out slightly, I move to check the accelerator. It's depressed, despite my foot not being on it. 90 mph. Not. Liking. This.

I tap the accelerator to try to make it release. Um, no. Apparently not going to happen. 92 mph.

I stomp the brake with renewed vigor, and steer onto the shoulder. Some hard-wired circuit in my brain flips on the hazard lights Miraculously, the van is slowing down. Slowly. 85 mph. Even more miraculously, the highway is virtually clear this morning, so I don't have to make any of those tough Crash Into Someone? or Roll Van Into Ditch? decisions. (For the record, I like to think that I would not have opted to crash into someone. Unless, say, Osama bin Laden turned out to be inexplicably driving the pick-up next to me).

65 mph. Hey, I might not die today!

50 mph. Something smells burny and horrible. I'm guessing that the car manufacturer did not intend for one to accelerate and brake at the same time. Noted.

In some order which is not clear in my head, I wrestle the van to a stop, turn of the ignition, and reach down for the pedal. When I duck my head down, I see that my rubber floor mat is wedged way up under the accelerator, so much so that it folds over the side of the pedal. Ah. I think I see the problem.

I sit for a couple of moments on the shoulder of I-95 and breathe. I call my husband, who is in a meeting. I consider my options. Damn it, I still want to go shopping. Bear is NOT wearing jeans to her oboe recital.

I restart the van and test the pedal. Seems fine.

I call my BF and make her stay on the phone with me while I cautiously drive a few feet down the median. I'm not sure exactly what the reasoning here was, but something along the lines of "if I'm going to die in a runaway van, someone's going to witness it, damnit." The logic kind of falls apart if you think about it too hard. I merge back on to the highway. The van seems fine.

I proceed down the highway at a cautious 65 mph, braking at random intervals, much to the delight of the vehicles around me. Just checking! Carry on.

An hour later, I stood in Target debating the merits of the Lindt Dark Chocolate & Orange Essence versus the Ghiradelli Bittersweet with Caramel.

Because cheating death on the highway absolutely equals giant candy bar in my book.


Jen on the Edge said...

Oh my gosh, how scary. I'm glad you're okay.

As for that mat, can you have it attached to the floor in some way so that it doesn't slide around anymore?

Did you ever find that dress?

Dawn in Austin said...

How scary!!

And the only answer is Bittersweet with Caramel.

I totally get wanting someone on the line. I've done it, too.

Middle Aged Woman said...

There's always the option of shifting into neutral, right? I became an expert at driving with two feet (an automatic!) when I had a car that stalled at every stop sign. Shift to neutral, brake with the left foot, rev the engine with the right foot, shift back to drive. It's the reason I get so discombobulated when I try to drive a stick!

smalltownmom said...

Yes, good chocolate is definitely required. And get rid of that floor mat!

Violet said...

Oh my goodness - so glad you are ok!

Something along those lines happened when I was in HS. My choir director's car kept accelerating when she was driving us home from our State Honors Chorus weekend. She had to brake like you did - careened into a gas station and lurched to a stop as the station attendant came running out, screaming for us to get out of the car. The brakes were literally on fire. Scary.

parnola said...

FYI, the newer Toyotas (and other cars) have a retaining clip that holds the mat in place to the floor. The dealer will retro-fit it for your Sienna for like 10 bucks. Seems like money well spent :)

parnola said...

oh, and next time, SHIFT TO NEUTRAL!!

Lora said...

So glad you're okay!!!

Nana said...

I concur - Shift to Neutral any time you can't get your car to slow down. Hopefully that was a one-time acceleration problem for you. Scary, scary situation, and Thank God the girls weren't in the car!! I've actually been trying not to think about this since you called me yesterday. Moms silently (sometimes) freak out when they hear things like this.

aaryn b. said...

I'm so glad you still went shopping.
I mean, it was clearly the right thing to do.

Glad you're okay.