I’ve Always Been Terrified of Getting Stuck in a Tunnel — Then, It Happened

Nothing makes the commute more exciting like shutting it off in the middle

Amanda Kay Oaks


Photo by Gustavo Fring

I live in Pittsburgh, which means my daily commute includes at minimum one bridge and one tunnel. Nearly every day while I sit in traffic in the bowels of said tunnel, I desperately hope never to be in a situation where I’m stuck in there.

This morning, my car’s battery died in the tunnel and I was, in fact, stuck in there.

It was a morning like any other. I woke up, had my coffee and my breakfast, listened to my Wednesday morning podcast, and walked the dog. I grumbled about having to put on work clothes and slather makeup on my face. I did those things anyway.

Then, I left for work. As I drove down the hill, the check battery light in my 2002 Ford Focus popped on and I thought, huh wonder if I should Google what that means. Should I have been more concerned about this? I don’t know, maybe. But then again, I drive a 2002 Ford Focus in the year 2022. Sometimes it does weird things.

As I sat in traffc in the tunnel, looking forward to not being in said tunnel, I glanced down to see that all the lights on the dashboard had gone off.

I pressed on the gas and my car made a feeble attempt at lurching forwards before it rolled to a stop. I tried turning it off and back on again, as one does. My car said, no thank you.

At that point, two things became necessary. First, I had to put half of my energy into not panicking now that I was living one of my actual nightmares. With the reaminder of my mental capacity, I tried to remember literally anything I have ever known about what to do when your car breaks down in the middle of a traffic-filled nightmare tunnel.

I found my hazards and flipped them on, unsure if they’d even work given the apparent deadness of the battery we replaced two months ago.

This one broken down car task managed, I googled “who do you call if your car breaks down in a tunnel” while my hands shook and cars honked pointlessly as they swerved around me into the other lane. Apparently, when stuck in a tunnel one should call 911. So, I did that.



Amanda Kay Oaks

Pittsburgh-based writer & wearer of many metaphorical hats. Making words about books, pop culture, witchery, health, travel, and more! She/her.