Saturday, January 17, 2009

Broken: Cars

Big Dave has had a rough start to his 2009.  So as part of our January Special Promotion, we are going to look at a few of the things that have broken under his hand or gone wrong on his watch.  Today we look at not just his car, but cars in general.

     Ahhh yeah, the car.  You really don't notice how much you rely on your car until it's gone.  I live in a small town where I am fortunate enough to be able to walk from my home to my job, but I still think I managed to drive my car at least every other day.  And once you are without it for a while, you sort of get ashamed about the places you would drive it.  I would drive my car to Pamida, which is about six blocks away.  I would drive my car to Subway, which is about four.  I would drive my car to the grocery store, both of which about about six blocks away.  Kind of makes me sick on the inside.  But you know what else makes me sick on the inside?  The fact that I mercilessly seem to be killing every vehicle whose wheel I get behind.
     It all started with my DykeSedan.  It was giving me all sorts of trouble when I went to the ancestral homeland over the Christmas holiday.  So I took it in to get looked at, maybe a tune up, whatever.  After I take it in Dr. J diagnoses the problem as a bad spark plug or something, which makes me feel pretty good.  So I am figuring that when they call me I will have them do a tune up and an oil change and I will be good to go.  But no, of course not.  Not in 2009.  When the nice people at the friendly local service center called me they promptly informed me that they had replaced the #2 spark plug.  The lady on the other end of the phone must have read my mind, because all I said was "Okay..." and then there was this really long pregnant pause.  More of an awkward silence, really.  So she must have read my mind asking "Why the hell didn't you replace all four spark plugs?"  She must have read that going through my mind because she said "Well, he [the mechanic] was going to replace all four but he found water in your cylinder, and what's the use replacing all four spark plugs when you have a bad head gasket."  Fantastic.
     So I park the car while it waits to get fixed.  I know, I know.  Dr. J is going to read this and shake his head and tell me to out in three cans of Barr's Leak and I will be good to go.  But I am going to get it replaced anyway.  So the DykeSedan sits in the parking lot, looking very much abandoned.  The lot is plowed everywhere except around the car.  Every week or so I have to go clean the snow off of it so the cops don't have it towed.  It's covered with salt residue, there are no hubcaps to be seen.  There are food wrappers and empty soda cans littering the foot wells of the back seat.  The face plate is missing from the radio (relax, it's on top of my fridge).  It's great, but it's sad.  But there is sits, waiting for surgery as it were.  And I am hoofing it about town.  To work.  To the store.  Wherever I need to go, through the coldest cold we've had in like 10 years.  Of course.
     It's a pretty pitiful story so far, isn't it?  It's filled with expensive repairs, derelict automobiles and lots of walking around.  Well, M&M thought it was a pretty awful story and decided to take pity on me.  After hearing about how I was walking miles to my second job in the cold, she offered me up the use of her spare car for the weekend to get to work, for the scant return favor of running her out to pick up her truck from her mechanic.  That's easy.  I can do that.  So I did.  I happily putted home in her Subaru and parked it next to my stricken DykeSedan.  I was happy as a clam.  
     Fast forward to Friday night.  I bop out of the Worldwide Headquarters about a half hour before work.  I have it all worked out.  Give the Subaru 10 minutes to warm up, about 10 minutes for me to run to the store, and then another 10 minutes for me to go to work.  I would be walking in right on the button.  But it was not to be.  As I turned the corner in the Subaru to head towards the store I wondered why it didn't seem to want to go.  Turns out the completely flat rear drivers-side tire had something to do with that.  So I limp it all the way to the gas station and pump the tire full of air.  As soon as I remove the air hose I can hear all the air leaking back out.  So I decide that this won't work and we should move on to Plan B.  I pump it full of air and make my way back towards the parking lot to fire up the DykeSedan for emergency service.  I didn't make it.
      About a block and a half short of the parking lot I stop the car and park it on the street.  I jump out, lock it up, and head for the DykeSedan.  To my relief it fires up.  So as it warms I go around and check the tires.  I find the rear passenger-side one is flat.  Fantastic.  As I look around I realize that the other car that parks in the lot has a flat tire too, so I am starting to think about foul play.  But I don't have time for that business.  I limp the DykeSedan to the gas station and pump its tire full of air.  And I get the most amazing sense of déjà vu.  Because as soon as I remove the air hose I can hear the air leaking out again.  Here we go again.  I pump it full, try to make it back to the parking lot, and make it the same amount of the way as I did the first time.  I park the DykeSedan right behind the Subaru, two vehicles abandoned downtown with flat tires, and begin the long cold walk to work.
     So now not only has my terrible karma broken my car, it's got it's fingers into my loaner as well.  Since this just happened last night, in the morning I am facing finding a tire shop in a small town that is open on a Saturday.  I am faced with jacking up two vehicles on a busy street to get the flat tires off.  And I am facing doing all of that in the five or so inches of snow that are in the process of falling.  Great.  With my luck I will probably break the jack.

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