When your car gives up

Brooke Howard, Features Editor

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I was 18 when I moved away to a big city without any friends or family. Needless to say, I messed up catastrophically more than a few times.

Reoccurring statements included, “I have five dollars till Friday” or, “Oh, yeah, I can totally come to your party, pull an all-nighter and go to class at 6 a.m. the next day” or my personal favorite “Whoa, those $90 jeans are so cool and I need them, I can totally live off Top Ramen and Arizona tea for a month!”

First of all, no one needs $90 jeans. No one. Spend that money on a nice blazer you can wear to an interview or a nice party if anything.

But the better option is to listen to what your parents probably told you. Put that money in a savings account or in that shoebox you keep under your bed.

Also, there are few things you need in this life: AAA is one of them. For $48 a year, you get roadside assistance and three free tows.

And there really are only a few extra things you need to get by in life. I believe you need that one funny friend, veggies, a pocket-knife, perfect temperature showers, a passport, books, a comfy bed, good music, red wine or a nice beer (totally your choice) and AAA.

I might be bias, though, because AAA essentially saved me faster than Superman saving Lois Lane.

There was a time that I had run my vehicle into the ground. I refused to get the oil changed because I didn’t think it was a necessity.

Well, imagine this, a scared and naive 18-year-old on the side of the 405 freeway, which is one of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles, with a smoking car and no one within a three-hour radius to come help.

So what do you do when you’re amid the hustle and bustle of a busy L.A. freeway, no one will stop to help you and you have no car experience?

Well, when I stopped playing victim and decided I was going to have to use my critical thinking skills, I reached for my phone and went to AAA’s website. I signed up right there and called five minutes later. The operator answers and says “Hello, what’s your policy number? And how can we help you today?” I gave her my policy number and said, “I’m stuck on the side of the 405 freeway, and I need to have someone tow me.”

I crossed my fingers and prayed she wouldn’t say, “Um, sorry you just signed up five minutes ago, we can’t do that.”

A couple of moments go by and I hear her cheerfully say “All right, I have someone coming for you right now! Would you like a mechanic to come as well?”

I rode with the tow truck, and they took my car back to my house and fixed it for virtually no money out of my pocket.

It always takes learning the hard way to know what you need to do to be prepared. That very next week I got things to fix my car, water and food and a first aid kit and threw it all in my trunk.

On Amazon.com you can get a 72-piece AAA “Roadside Assistance” kit, which includes a heavy-duty booster cable, aluminum flashlight, 45-piece First Aid kit and 72 tools. All of this can be yours for a cool $38.25 and free shipping on Amazon.com. Another life tip: you can get a free Amazon.com Prime membership if you use your student email address.

An Amazon Prime membership includes free two-day shipping on most items (including textbooks and school supplies), Prime instant video in which you can stream tons of movies and TV episodes for free, Prime music that has more than a million unlimited and ad-free songs and playlists, and Prime Pantry, which ships fresh food straight to your house or apartment for grocery store prices. And just remember, it’s OK to learn the hard way.

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