Staying calm (or not) for the kids

Yesterday was an extremely stressful day, filled with driving back from a visit to family in Cleveland. The drive should have taken around 8 hours (including stops), but there was a lot of construction so it took closer to 10 hours.

And then I hit an enormous snarl trying to enter NYC at the George Washington Bridge. There had been an accident in the city that snarled up traffic so badly that a trip that usually takes anywhere between 10 and 45 minutes took 4 hours.(Google Map for illustration, if you care. The traffic started right around exit 69 on I-95 North and it took almost 4 hours to get to exit 73, which is marked Route 67 Lemoine Ave on the map. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=george+washington+bridge&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=51.443116,114.169922&ie=UTF8&hq=george+washington+bridge&hnear=United+States&ll=40.856961,-73.971548&spn=0.024214,0.055747&z=15&iwloc=C)

I was stuck, in the middle of lanes of traffic that weren't moving for 10 minutes at a time and then only inching forward, with two kids asleep in the back seat (after fighting with each other all day and screaming and making me stressed out), and I knew there was no way out because I was in the "express" lane with no exits, and then my Low Fuel light came on.

And I just lost it. I started crying, not so silently. And I'm a Tension Increaser so crying doesn't make me feel better AT ALL and just makes me feel worse.

And I cried and cried until I was sick of crying, and a friend texted me to turn off the car (since I wasn't going anywhere anyway) and I did, and the kids woke up. I told the kids we'd be OK. And then I got out of the car and went to ask a trucker if he could see if I could exit right before the bridge, and he said I could, and when I explained that I was out of gas he felt sorry for me. And the next time there was a teeny bit of movement he blocked for me so I could cut across 4 lanes of traffic and drive on the shoulder off the exit, then to a gas station, and then home.

Let me tell you, I was a badass as I was escaping to the exit and asking the bridge cop for directions to a gas station and then going back to ask him the best way to get into the city and home. Swaggering, even. (Well, for 3 am and having to pee.)

(Then I finally got to sleep at 4 am and got up at 6:30 am to clean out the car and take it back to the rental place before work. I would really like to thank my ex-husband for all the help he gave me in the middle of the night last night.)

So what was the difference between feeling-sorry-for-myself me and The Fast and The Furious me? Two things:

1. Had to hold it together for the kids. I didn't want them to be scared, so I stopped crying and pretended I knew what I was doing.

2. Once I went to talk to the trucker I was doing something about my problem, and then once I was driving I was really Doing Something about my problem.

So here's my question for you: Are you cool in an emergency? Always? Never? Sometimes? Is it different when your kids are around?

And what's the worst (almost)-running-out-of-gas story or road trip story you have? (And raise your hand if you've ever peed in a disposable diaper while stuck in traffic. I have, and it was more funny than horrible.)