Monday, October 03, 2005

Cabin Fever

"help! i'm stuck at home for the night with no car. someone come spring me for an hour or two..."
--my AIM away message at the moment
That's right, I'm a prisoner in my own home.

OK, not really, but it sure feels like it. I never expected to spend part of my four-day weekend at home at night without a car, but that's where I am. And now, having stared at the (admittedly slightly more than) four walls of Casa de Kev all day, I'm starting to go a little stir-crazy.

I was going to title this post "Clutch. Car. Go." in reference to both the cult-favorite cartoon character from decades ago and the fact that the clutch on my car did in fact go, or was at least far enough along in the process thereof that it warranted professional attention. But the story just turned into a comedy of errors that lasted all day.

I've always driven a stick; in the beginning, I liked the better mileage of a manual transmission (though I understand that automatics have improved in that area lately), and I learned on a stick, so driving an automatic just doesn't feel like real driving to me. The only downside is that, when you drive cars for as long as I do (338K on the original Kevmobile; 147K so far on Kevmobile 1.2), the clutch is going to go eventually. The only questions that remain are when and how.

At least the event of its demise has gotten easier each time: My first car in college had its clutch go out on a trip back from Thanksgiving, about an hour and a half south of Dallas in a town called Corsicana (yes, you can probably hear the bad country song now: "I dropped my CLUUUUtch, in CORRRR-si-canaaaaa") on a day when I had to pick up two friends from the airport. Yikes, what a mess. (It involved cramming four people and their luggage into a Saab sedan at one point; there was also the necessity of bribing two different friends with beer to pick me up and/or take me back to Corsicana, and the messy situation of getting a Nissan fixed at a Toyota place while relying on parts to be shipped down from Dallas during a bus strike. Oh yeah, and I had to ride my bike to my radio job at 5:30 a.m. in 27-degree weather. Bleh.)

When Kevmobile 1.0's clutch breathed its last, at least it had the decency to do so about half a mile from home; I was able to limp back in what was left of first gear and get it towed to the shop. This time, I wasn't stranded anywhere (except for now), as I heard the metallic grinding noise for a while (my friend Colin was making fun of it last week) and knew it was time to get it looked at on this day off from school. It seemed easy so far...

And then the comedy began. First off, the garage usually offers its customers a ride home if they can't get to their car right away. But today, they were understaffed, which left me to walk home. It's not a bad walk--I've done it before, and it clocks in at only nine-tenths of a mile--but it was a bit too hot (should've saved the shower for afterwards, I thought later), and my beloved flip-flops were somewhat less beloved for a trek of that distance (no blisters, just a gradual tightening of the calves near the end). Now all I could do was sit and wait for the phone call.

A metallic noise like the one I was hearing usually meant one of two things--the muffler or the clutch. Thanks to the same corollary of Murphy's Law that discusses the odds of toast falling buttered-side down being directly proportional to the cost of the rug, I would of course end up with the more expensive problem. They said they'd be done by their closing time, but I was teaching at the store till then...d'oh, time to rent a car. That's not easy right now, as almost every rental car in the D/FW area is still being used by hurricane evacuees, but they had something for me--more than I wanted to spend, but less than the money I'd lose if I missed every lesson. This being the company that "picks you up," I was instructed to wait until 4:00...pushing it, time-wise, but doable.

Except the company that picks you up...didn't. When 4:20 came around and no courier guy in sight, I called them back. We're swamped, he said; but they could get me "any minute now." I called the garage back--were they sure they'd be done by closing time?--and decided to cancel the rental car, hoping to get at least one lesson to drive out to the house and reschedule the others for later.

At lesson's end, I had the student drop me off at the garage right before closing time. "Ten minutes more," the guy said. I read some of a magazine. "Just five more minutes," he'd say later. Eventually, he came in again, looking downcast. All the parts went in properly, but an axle wasn't lining up. They didn't feel right releasing it to me, just in case.

So here I am....stuck. I'd already been getting cabin fever; this was the longest I'd been here at home with nothing to do in a long time. And now, no ability to run errands, visit friends or even go to Starbucks. Bored, bored, bored. I think I'm off to watch some TV now...and I can only hope that the car is ready before lunchtime tomorrow.

UPDATE: A friend did come over and spring me for a brief Starbucks jaunt a little later, so I did get out of the house for a time. The empty garage still looks weird, though...

1 comment:

Shawn said...

That sucks man, but what an interesting story for me to hear. I also drive a stick, and when I go to UNT, mom is giving me her automatic Oldsmobile Intrigue. I don't know how I'm going to cope, but I'm sure that the result of driving that will lead me to the purchase of a crotch rocket. They look like so much fun, with the wind in the hair, and since I drive my scooter a lot; I'm getting use to the wind. However, it'd be a long time before I could ever get myself to drive that on the highway.