Monday, July 3, 2006

The old car goes out...

I posted some time ago about the fact that my truck was on its way out. Well, she went and, in true Wayfarer House fashion, did it with style and in a way that you would never have figured.

It all happened on the last day of school for me. June 30th. A beautiful day, and a productive one! My grades were in. My classroom was clean and packed (they were due to clean out the space to do some construction). My truck was loaded to the gills with the stuff that comes home for the summer (Mbungo, plants, calendar, videos, texts and work to review, my podium that needs to have the top rebuilt, etc.), and I was thinking about what to make for supper that night as I pulled off the highway up the ramp to the stop sign to get on the back road that takes me to home. That's when she stalled.

I said, "That's odd. I haven't stalled my truck in years." Then I tried to start her again. She wanted to. She really wanted to, but the smoke started billowing from under the hood and I just knew this was the end. The thing was, I was in a tricky place. This off ramp has a little bit of a bend to it that makes it tough to see too far ahead as your approaching the stop sign. It was a busy traffic day and lots of people were exiting from the highway waaaaaay too fast. Not a good place to die, baby.

I quickly call AAA. I tell them in a calm, but urgent voice where I am, and that I'd appreciate it if they'd get someone here a little faster than they normally do since my truck's fat ass is hanging out in the street about to be chopped off by a logging truck. They say, "Mr. Wayfarer, did you know that your membership expires today?"

I borrowed a phrase from Chili. "You're kidding me, right?" Is it STILL good? Yeah? Then how about you get the *&@#% tow truck out here! I'll worry about where the check went when I'm not about to be run over, OK?

Then comes the fun part. Trying to communicate where I am.

"I'm on the northbound off-ramp, at the end, by the stop sign."

"OK. And which direction are you going?" (Can you tell where this is headed?)

The entire ten minute conversation went like this. Eventually, I just told her to send the truck to a nearby truckstop and I'd direct him by cell phone if he was as feebleminded as she was (I was more polite on the phone. Can you imagine the karmic debt that would come from saying that to her?). Once I was off the phone with her, I called 911. To my incredible surprise, they were aware that I was stranded and had already dispatched someone to investigate. He arrived within a minute after I had spoken with dispatch. The best part? He even called the tow company and told them to get a move on! The tow truck arrived in less than 10 minutes after that!

Now that's prompt service, people!

Wifeness and I stripped my truck of all it's personal items why it lay bleeding oil in the dealership parking lot. Now, I don't have personal attachments to my vehicles, but this process always seems a little sad to me. Sort of like moving out of an apartment, I get this small amount of melancholy, but without the anticipation of moving to a new place. When I closed the driver's side door for the last time, I could not help but pat her on the hood and say thank you for the 10 good years and 120,000 she had served so well.

My next car will not be her equal.

PS: I had the garage to a check under the hood just to determine cause of death. It was not, they said, anything that was wrong with it from before. Rather, an entirely new and undiagnosable problem was the culprit that, much like everything else that was wrong, would cost some $750 to fix.

How many $750 problems can one car have before it dies? The answer: 4.

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