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One Tow Over the Line

In the middle of California, an invisible line snakes its way through vineyards, broccoli fields, mountains and coastland. And apparently, we crossed that line just before our RV broke down.

“You’re in Southern California now,” the authoritative voice of an AAA Insurance agent told me over the phone, “so you’re not entitled to the tow.” Her voice reminded me of Miranda Hockensmith, the girl always chosen to monitor the room in third grade when teachers had to step out for a minute.

Before we left on our trip, my husband and I upgraded our towing insurance to Premium Level in case our econowagon bit the dust during its inaugural trip.

And it did bite the dust, in a big way.

First we had it towed to a mechanic who specializes in German motors. Other people’s German motors. Not ours.

That mechanic sent us to another guy, and another and another. Our RV logged more miles on the back of a truck than it ever did with us in it.

I whined into the phone. “But your colleague, the one I just talked to, assured me we’re covered,” The screen on my laptop said my AAA membership came with 200 miles of free RV towing. And I was holding paperwork that said the same thing.

“Only the first hundred miles are free,” she said, “and then it’s $9 a mile. So you can expect to pay about $450.” Our van needed to be towed a whopping 151 miles.

The one fabulous night we spent RV-ing was turning out to be expensive, especially considering that I had to put quarters in a slot to take a shower the next morning. Yes, I wore flip flops. And yes, I whined about it.

When the truck arrived, the driver said that the agent was wrong. He charges by the hour, not by the mile. “The first hundred miles are free. But in LA traffic, those 51 miles are going to cost you. Expect to pay around $800.”

So we ponied up a credit card and followed his taillights into the dusk, creeping through the snarled lanes of traffic. All the way to Jacob’s house in Thousand Oaks.

There, we shook hands with the new owner of our ill-fated vehicle. The first thing he’ll have to to do is have it towed. Apparently, there's a mechanic in Yucaipa who knows exactly what to do.

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