My son’s car broke down last Sunday – in a very inconvenient spot. Those of you familiar with Orlando will understand when I tell you where be broke down. Matthew was on his way to pick up my father – so they could go to the Orlando Science Center and the Taylor Guitar exhibit that was showing there. On his way to pick up my dad, on SR 408 (also called the East-West Expressway) the car died suddenly.
(check out Matthew shredding on his guitar 2 years ago. He’s only gotten better!)
Matthew was heading East on the expressway; there was no right shoulder at all because of construction, and the left shoulder was not wide enough for his car. The East-West Expressway is one of the busiest highways in Central Florida, and my son was broken down, half in and half out of the lane on a Sunday afternoon.
Matthew called me immediately, and I was only a few miles away, thankfully. I didn’t realize he was halfway in the roadway, so I told him to stay in the car with the flashers on until I arrived. Had I know how precarious his position was I would have instructed him to exit the vehicle and stand a few hundred feet behind it. When I arrived, I was horrified to see how exposed the car was and how close cars were driving to him.
I immediately grabbed traffic cones and placed them further into the roadway, both in front and behind Matthew’s car. I then walked about 200 feet behind MY car and started waving traffic out of the fast lane and into the center lane. 80% of the people allowed me to guide them but there’s a reason why driving in Florida is one of the most dangerous things you can do here. Easily 20% of the drivers ignored me, or even swerved closer to me to scare me, as I tried to protect my family – stranded on the side of the road. Jerks.
A Florida Highway Patrolman drove by, saw me, and stopped. He turned on his lights behind my car and I was instantly grateful. It was incredibly dangerous on the roadway and the presence of the officer and his flashing lights was doing what I could not – all the drivers were getting over and giving us space. The policeman waved me over to his car.
I walked up and told him Matthew’s car had broken down and we were waiting on AAA to come tow us. He nodded his head agreeably, put his car in gear, and DROVE OFF. Yes – he assessed the situation, saw how we were partially blocking the FAST lane, and decided to leave us there.
I was so stunned I could not even articulate how furious I was when I told my wife what had happened. These are the police who are supposed to protect and serve – leaving me stranded in a very dangerous position, and not even offering to help direct traffic away from us. This man, paid by my taxes, left my family in an unsafe situation intentionally.
It took another 15 minutes for the Road Rangers to show up and do what the cop failed to do – he directed traffic away from the lane we were blocking and helped ensure the safety of my family and myself. I suppose the cop could have called the Road Rangers in, but he gave no indication of it, and he left us for 15 minutes more in the unsafe situation. He should have stayed until the tow truck had arrived or until the Road Rangers arrived to take over traffic management around the blocked lane.
This is yet another reason why I dislike cops on general principles.