In the past few months I’ve come to the conclusion that my car is in need of last rights or an exorcism. Either way, it needs a priest. A few months back I went on my first vacation in at least ten years. I was hopeful to find beaches just thawing from winter’s touch. Even if I could no longer take a long walk, I could at least enjoy a leisurely drive along the national shoreline. As I drove toward my destination at the outermost point of Cape Cod, my axle snapped. The front end dropped suddenly. Metal met cement as the car decelerated from 70mph to a dead halt and slammed into the highway. A few sparks went up in addition to a sound that I suspect is not far from that of a shrieking banshee. While sitting in my car for a half a moment, thanking God for my life, and taking an inventory of my limbs, the water pump blew. Old Faithful would have been envious. I could have been filming an insurance commercial as I sat on the side of the interstate with steam spewing from my engine, and my tire literally rolling down the freeway independent of my vehicle.
Rewind to three weeks ago; I ran over this which embedded itself in my front-passenger side tire causing a blowout. Again, I managed to wrestle the car to the side of the road while it limped along like a hooker with a broken stiletto. When I was in my 20s I had a rollover accident that bent the frame of the car I was then driving. I was told to total the vehicle, but I couldn’t afford a new one, so I drove around with tires wearing themselves out along the metal of the frame and exploding every two or three months. To this day I can change a tire like a pit crew. I attempted to change this flat, but couldn’t get the lug nuts off. I didn’t feel bad because the AAA tow truck guy couldn’t get the bolts to move either and he broke my strut in the process. The day ended with two separate accidents and trips to the ER for me and a friend who picked me up at the garage, a dislocated shoulder for me, and an ankle fracture for him. When the flat happened first thing in the morning, I said “No worries, still a good day if this is the worst of it, right?” I think that was where I went wrong. That wasn’t the end of it. Yesterday I was leaving to meet a friend for breakfast and “started” my car. It was a rare day off without medical appointments or multiple errands. If the car turned over it would have all worked out as planned. The car wasn’t clicking like a dead battery. It was technically starting, so it wasn’t the starter. I checked for leaks under the vehicle and checked oil and other important fluids, knowing that with the accident weeks earlier, most of the vital tubes and arteries under the hood had just been replaced. Nuthin’! Okay, back to AAA and call a new friend because Mike is still limping around from the last time.
Sometime in the late afternoon I got the news.
My mechanic Jim: “Hey, it’s that dumb-ass security system again!”
Me: “Really? Wow, that thing is way too much trouble for something I can’t even use!”
Shortly after the accident on the shore, my car started beeping whenever the key was inserted in the ignition. Not a seat belt beep, but something kind of like your phone when the charge is low. I could have lived with the beep if it didn’t shut down the automatic locks on the doors. There was no locking or unlocking them without doing it manually, and the car locked me out a few times in my driveway. I called my friends from whom I had bought the car years earlier when my mechanic told me it was the security system. They were surprised to hear it had anti-theft as it was nothing they had put into it in the eight years they owned the car. Now, five years later it was coming to life. See what I mean? Priest… I need a priest.
Jim: “Yeah, I’m not sure what we can do. I’ve been watching a video from the manufacturer and we can’t just change the ignition because it wouldn’t do anything. We would have to rip up your electrical system and it’s not worth it. Give me another couple of hours and I think I can fool it into thinking it’s off.”
Move forward to early evening:
Jim: “So you gonna be home?”
Me: “Where the hell am I going? You have my car.”
Jim: “What? We’re your only friends? Not likely, smart ass. I have to show you something to start up your car. You are the only person I know with a car that comes with special instructions… but I figure that’s kind of like the rest of your life so this is small stuff. I’ll be there in about ten minutes. Can you give me a lift back to the garage? “
Me: “Of course, but my mechanic kind of sucks so I can’t vouch for my car working.”
Thirty minutes later (he is never on time!):
Standing in the door of my car Jim was explaining from the driver’s seat, that the fuel pump shuts itself off when the security system thinks the car is being stolen. Why it thinks it’s being stolen when I’m using the key is beyond both our reasoning. Either way he has ingeniously installed a toggle switch beneath the column that activates the fuel pump. So before I start the car I have to “prime the pump” as it were by flipping the switch. It works great and it was way under the cost of a new fuel pump! I know because I had it replaced after the axle accident.
This car owes me nothing. It’s been an awesome vehicle. It has never needed any huge repairs that were not a direct result of my freakish luck. If it had never met me, it would have led the boring uneventful life of a typical Chevy Malibu. I hope she’s happier for all the knocks she’s taken because like me, I think it makes us stronger. My hope is that now “Bu” has reached over 197,000 miles that she will make it through this summer to the 200.000 bragging rights she so richly deserves.
This was written for Finish the Sentence Friday…