I went out at 6:10 this morning in sub-zero temperatures to start my “new” used car, which has been faithfully firing up for two years come what may.
I got a lot of backtalk from it today though, as it coughed and heaved before it finally turned over. I fired up the heater and the defroster, then went back inside to finish getting ready for work. When I finally had my winter coat, gloves, computer, keys, and coffee, most importantly coffee, I found the car wasn’t running.
Nothing. I tried to restart, but all I got was a fast ClickClickClick-ing, a flash of every light on the dashboard, and no ignition.
I called my insurance company. Some guy who sounded like Norville Rogers and Jeff Spicoli had a love child came to insult me. He first asked what happened, and when I told him I had no way of knowing that, being a computer programmer and not a mechanic, he decided to insinuate I’d left the lights on (I didn’t) or did something else stupid (nope).
I refrained from reaming Norville Spicoli out and instead directed him to please jump start the vehicle. Which he could not do. He did, however, helpfully indicate the battery isn’t yet dead.
Back to the phone for a call to the mechanic I’ve used for a couple of years now, only to find he’s not going to be there most of today. Run the symptoms by him; get something that amounts to “it could be a lot of things.” I figured that, but hoped against hope for the “Oh, that? Yeah, just go wipe off this horkenjuncture manifold thingy with alcohol and it’ll fire right up” fantasy.
So I called Midas, to ask if they could see it and fix it today. Probably so, they said, if I could find a tow truck in a timely manner and have it towed there sort of pretty soon. If not, it might not be done today, depending on parts and availability. So I drew a heavy sigh; a stiff tow bill, along with Midas’s stiff bill (they cost nearly twice what my mechanic does) means I don’t know if I can arrange this. So.
I called a friend because he buys a lot of used cars at auction and has them worked on, and he uses a particular person, who said he had nothing he was working on today and could have the car finished the same day. But first, he insisted on spending a bit of my money for injection cleaners and things to pour into my gas tank, then a tiny heater to thaw the underside of the motor, and a couple of extension cords to plug in a charger and aforementioned heater.
And that all cost us about two hours, during which time I wasn’t making arrangements for a tow truck to get to the mechanic, whose name I still didn’t have. We jump through those hoops for a while, then he has to go. Wait an hour or so, he says, then try it again and let me know what happens. So I’m stuck for another hour.
At one o’clock – remember this all started at 6:10 a.m. – I finally went out (because an hour had passed) and tried to start the car, only to get the same behavior I got this morning. So.
I call my friend and tell him we need a mechanic. I have to have a working vehicle by about six a.m. tomorrow morning. I emphasize again how this is the only car we have, and I can’t just use the other one. There isn’t another one. So.
He says okay, he’ll contact his guy, and set up the tow. I still don’t have the name or phone number for the mechanic, have never met him, and when the tow truck driver shows up, he has one question for me: “Where you going?”
He speaks only the barest English, and I speak less Spanish. I ask him if my friend told him where this shop was; he shakes his head. I get on the horn with my friend. And thus began the day’s downward spiral in which I ride to someplace I’ve never been to find a shop I’ve never seen run by a man I’ve never spoken to.
It worked, but not well. I have my friend’s assurance that Juan (the mechanic, whose number I finally got from the tow truck driver, who figured it out someh0w from his cell phone call log) gives his assurance that he’s going to be able to fix it today.
And now I’m waiting. Waiting on the tinterhooks of “If you don’t hear from me by 4:45 p.m., call me.” Which is the same as this person saying he’s not going to call me.
And I don’t know what the mechanic said, or how much this will cost, or if it will be ready tomorrow. But I know my boss will not like my calling in sick a second time because of car troubles. And he’s not alone; this is the very reason we got rid of our reasonably reliable if ancient Jeep Cherokee. I’ve been pouring money into this car ever since, it seems. *Sigh*