As we all know, I have a complicated relationship with automobiles. I do not like driving at all and avoid it whenever possible, but I do know how to drive and at the very least, I drive once a week to the grocery store. Though truth be known, I would even walk there if it wasn't for the fact that my ice cream would melt on the way home.
Further I acknowledge how very small my world would be if I didn't have the means to get from Place A to Place B quickly and efficiently. (with someone else driving obviously) For example, we find ourselves going up to Sarasota with an unexpected frequency. It is the closest, "big" city to us so naturally it has more variety to offer by way of shopping, restaurants, entertainment and even medical needs. It's less than twenty miles away, which translates to roughly a half hour of driving given stop lights, bridges, speed limits and traffic. Thirty measly minutes. In a car. If I had to walk twenty miles it would take me, I don't know, three years or something? Actually it's more like 7 hours. So, there you go. I admit that driving in some cases just makes more sense.
But cars are expensive to purchase, expensive to maintain and are bureaucratically expensive (taxes, registration and so forth). AND they are complicated and moody. If one tiny thing is not quite to their satisfaction they get all snotty and refuse to perform. Which leads to yet another expense - taking them to the repair place to be worked on. And it's never small money, it's always Big Buckerooties.
In the olden days, before computers, cars were a lot easier to work on. It was a normal thing for people to change their own oil, adjust spark plugs and replace various belts and filters. Even I knew how to do a few things. But back then not only were the issues pretty straight forward, but there was room to work on the car. Some of them had engine compartments so big you could just about climb inside to fix it!
But now? Nope, it's small inside, very compact I think is the word. And it's all computerized and the tools are specialized and well, it's unusual now for most people to be able to work on their own cars. The first car I had that I couldn't fix was my Fiat. I bought it when I started college. The first thing that needed to be done on it was very small. A tiny thing. Something that anyone (including me) could do. Except, as it turned out, suddenly the tools I needed for the job, I did not have. Why? Because it required Metric Tools. I didn't have any metric tools. Nobody I knew had them. Nope. It had to go to the garage to be fixed. And that was the beginning of the end of me doing anything to any car I owned.
Which just makes the whole car-thing more mysterious, and complicated and the pain-in-the-assedness of it grew exponentially. As did the expense. So I'm sure you will understand when I explain that when I experienced a little car trouble recently, my first thought was a money panic.
I was on my way to the grocery store. It's not really very far away, maybe a mile? But again, multiple heavy bags of groceries, one of which most likely has ice cream in it, means driving and not walking. So there I am tooling merrily along the road. It's a pretty drive actually with lots of trees and flowers and pretty houses, and a meridian that has even more trees. As I approached the first big intersection the car began lugging.
I honestly do not know if that is the actual word for it or not, but that's what I call it. It was lurching forward and hesitating over and over again. Dang! The intersection was busy and I was rather hemmed in with parked cars on my right, another full lane of traffic to my left, cars ahead of and behind me. All I could think of to do was have one foot on the brake and one on the gas at the same time, nursing the car through the red light. (Of course it was a red light, isn't it always in that situation?)
Finally the light turned green and we moved ahead, the engine smoothed out and I'm thinking, "What the heck was that all about?" And that's when it quit. I mean it just stopped. Dang. I managed to guide it to the side of the road and there I sat, in the bicycle lane and the intersection of Harbour and Venetia. Dang. Immediately I went into money panic mode. I had no idea what was wrong but I was positive that whatever it was, it was going to cost a lot.
I tried to start the car again, if for no other reason than to put the windows down. It gets hot very quickly in a closed up car y'know. It would start for a split second and then quit again. Ratz. I waited 5 minutes and tried again. Over and over with no results. Finally I called Tim. It was his car before it was my car so maybe there was some sort of trick that he knew about that would snap it back to normal. But nope. It was time to call Triple A. That is why we have it after all, right?
So I called and we did the dance and the fellow on the other end of the line was very very nice. But ultimately the answer was that yes they would send a tow truck to take the car to the shop but that the wait time was about two hours. Two hours?? Dang! Well if that's what it is, then that's what it is. But I'm absolutely going to be waiting OUTSIDE of the car. I was pouring sweat and flushed bright red by that time. As I was stepping out of the car though, Tim pulled up behind me. Yay! I am saved!
He did some sort of magic and, eventually, managed to get the car started again. The engine sounded just fine, as if none of that other foolishness had happend. Therefore the decision was made to cancel the tow truck and Tim would follow me back home. The grocery shopping could wait. OK. I am on board with that. So I called Triple A back and I was put on hold. We waited (In Tim's nice cool car) for about fifteen minutes. Well it's is kind of crazy to just sit and wait on the side of the road, we decided, so instead we would stay on hold but go home because we were mere minutes away.
Tim had custody of my phone on hold (as he is capable of driving AND talking on the phone at the same time whereas I am barely capable of driving while I'm driving. We arrived home safely and with no other issues, still on hold buy the way and went back into the house. Tim handed me the phone, still on hold, and he went back into his office to get back to work.
It was probably a good 30 minutes or more of being on hold before I got somebody who, it turns out, was in Colorado. So they have to transfer me to Florida. GEEZ! Long story slightly shorter, eventually, I was able to talk to the right person and cancel the tow truck. Which also means cancelling the expense of a car repair. Whew! Dodged a bullet there.
The car seems to be fine now although every time I slide into the drivers seat I admit I have a little anxiety about whether or not we are going to arrive at our destination without any drama or not. We still have no idea what the problem was but whatever it was seems to have self-corrected. And that alone is kind of wierd. But self-correct is free and I'm all in favour of that.
Meanwhile, my relationship with automobiles remains...................................complicated.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.