Ever since I’ve had a license, I’ve had AAA (or Triple A, as it’s more commonly known).
Growing up, every car we ever owned had the silver lame (that’s lame as in a thin plate of metal) Triple A stickers in the window.
Although I don’t recall even one instance when we actually broke down, and had to avail ourselves of it’s protection, my dad kept his membership up to date.
So when I became a car owner myself, I made a point of copping my Triple A membership.
Over the years, there have been a few occasions when I made that call.
A few winters ago, my Jeep just stopped working.
I was in NY and when I got back into old girl to head home, she simply wouldn’t turn over.
I whipped out my phone, called Triple A, and then had to run the gauntlet to actually get a live operator on the phone.
First there was the automated attendant who wanted my member number, eye color and middle name of the nun who taught me in first grade.
Then, when I finally got a warm body, I was told that I needed to be transferred to another Triple A office, that handled the borough I was stranded in.
And then I was transferred to another operator who told me that I had been transferred to the wrong location.
After about 30 minutes of musical chairs, I was finally told that someone would be there within “30 to 45 minutes”.
I thought that was an inordinately long time (considering how long it took just to get the initial request put in), but was prepared to wait.
Two and a half hours (several irate phone calls and lots of hold time) later, someone actually showed up.
Two and a half friggin hours!
Grateful to have been rescued from my predicament, I didn’t bend dude’s ear or put Triple A on full blast.
But I was hot.
On another occasion, my rental conked out at the mall.
Whipped out the phone.
Placed the call for roadside assistance.
Got the same run around as the last time.
“Oh you’re not with the right office, let me transfer you. Please hold.”
Next operator takes my info.
Gives me the standard “30-45 minutes” spiel.
A deuce later, a Triple A truck shows up.
Two hours? For a jump?
A month ago, I had a flat tire.
As in, “you be easy.”
I can change a flat tire.
But in the process of removing my lug nuts, I stripped it and it would not come off.
Placed a call to Triple A.
You know the drill.
Two hours later, someone showed up.
In each instance, Triple A got me right.
So I definitely think that it’s worth having a membership.
But that wait….
You can imagine my chagrin this morning, when I was driving to work, and old girl started to sputter.
I was driving my lil’ brother’s 1991 Mercedes Benz 300E.
I’ve been driving it for a minute (he parked it at my house in Montclair when he got a spot in Manhattan).
So I thought I knew her pretty well.
The gas light had been on for a couple of days.
But that only means that the gas is low, not empty.
I knew, from experience, that whenever I saw that light, I had a good twenty more miles before I actually had to get gas.
So I was completely thrown when she just stopped.
I was not looking forward to another two hour wait.
I whipped out my phone and started to dial.
But then it hit me, maybe Triple A had an app!
So I switched up and opened up the App Store instead of dialing.
Lo and behold!
Not only did they have an app (they had four), but there was a Roadside Assistance App!
I quickly downloaded that joint, fired it up and plugged in my info.
15 minutes later, I spied a Triple A truck pulling up behind me.
I shit you not.
15 minutes later.
Dude popped out of his truck, grabbed a 3 gallon gas can and funnel, and poured life-giving petrol into my disabled ride.
And just like that, I was off!
Now I can’t say that it was the app that got them there so quickly this morning.
If Triple A hasn’t received a slew of complaints, or if it wasn’t a light day, or if it wasn’t my (new) premium membership, then (aside from my using the app today) I can’t account for the speed with which they responded to my call for aid.
But I can say that if you ever find yourself stranded on the side of the road, don’t bother calling Triple A.
Whip out your smartphone.
Dial up the Triple A app.
And watch the magic happen.