Saturday, June 16, 2007

Here We Go Again...and Again

I was going to do an update on the Fry Street situation today (there are quite a few articles out there), but life got in the way.

During the past few years, I've faithfully chronicled the various breakdowns of Kevmobile 1.2 in this blog. For the most part (seeing as how she was already at least six years old when I bought her), she's been a great car, but there have been some moments where it feels like I've paid for an entire new car's worth of repairs. When I had to get a new catalytic converter about a month ago, I knew there were a few more things that needed attention "soon." A few random stutters--where the car seemed to lose power for just a second and then roar back to life--convinced me that today would be a good day to have things looked over at the garage. But their busy-ness kept them from getting to me before I could go see my protege/bandmate Aaron play a gig with his other band, so I got the car back and headed that way, with the knowledge that I would go back to the garage first thing after church tomorrow.

I made it within mere blocks of the gig before the car sputtered to a halt.

The battery and oil lights both came on as it stopped, which was weird; I'd just added a quart of oil yesterday, and the battery was maybe three weeks old at most. At least, unlike the previous time the car died on me, I was on level ground and not an elevated freeway connector ramp. Still, I was blocking most of my lane, and my efforts to will the car another twenty yards to the next cross-street were unsuccessful. If I'd known I was going to miss the gig anyway, I would've just stayed at the garage.

So once again, it was time to call AAA and wait. (And even though this isn't a commercial blog, I have to put in a quick plug for this organization. They saved my butt bigtime when I cracked an axle in Wichita, Kansas on a college band trip ten years ago, and that experience pretty much made me a customer for life. Nothing that's happened during the intervening time has diminished that feeling.) I was able to cross a (thankfully empty) drainage ditch and (literally) chill under a tree for the 45 minutes until the tow truck got there.

I should mention that passersby were very nice today; I had all kinds of people (of various ages and ethnicities, and both genders) stop and offer to help me--a few even pulling over or turning around to ask if I needed assistance. This social experiment couldn't have turned out better if I'd planned it, and it just goes to show that--despite all the negative headlines in the news--there are a lot of good people out their ready to give a fellow man a hand in time of need.

When the truck arrived, the driver gave me a jump with one of those little devices that don't actually require attachment to the other vehicle. When it powered up right away, it appeared that I was good to go. I was told that my new battery was one that required the refilling of water in those little openings; I had no idea they even still made batteries like that, and I really wondered why nobody bothered to tell me that when I'd bought the new one. I was advised to fill it when I got home, which was less than ten minutes away.

Except that, just shy of the last major intersection before my house, the car sputtered to a stop again.

This time, it was right before a railroad track at a stoplight. At least there were enough lanes at this intersection that people could go around me on either side, but still, this was frustrating. I got the wrecker company back on the phone, and they said they'd send the guys out my way again.

They decided to tow me to the garage this time, and when I heard that familiar sputtering noise coming out of yet another nearby vehicle, I turned and realized that it was the tow truck itself. That's right, the vehicle that came to get me when my car died had just died itself.

I had to laugh; there was nothing else one could do in that situation.

The truck eventually recovered, and they got me to the garage, which was closed by then. I managed to snag a ride home for the last half of my walk (after stopping to vote in the mayoral runoff; I was feeling guilty about missing the general election last month), and now all I can do is wait until the morning and hope whatever's wrong is not too expensive.

Being the first used car I've ever bought, Kevmobile 1.2 was never meant to be a long-term thing, but I have lots of things I'd rather be spending my money on at the moment (a new bari tops the list, followed by LASIK, in case you're wondering). I'm still hoping that I can go an entire year without having to make car payments, but we'll have to see.

Previous Kevmobile 1.2 posts:
October, 2003: A Little Civic Discourse
April, 2005: A Street-Level View of the World
October, 2005: Cabin Fever, The Saga Continues, Happy Birthday (You Money Pit You) (Yes, October '05 was one expensive car month.)
January, 2006: Kevmobile 1.2 Dodges a Metaphorical Bullet
January, 2007: Just One of Those Days, The Mystery Continues, Mystery Solved

My favorite headline of the week so far: Bullies foiled by cake. (It's not what you'll expect from reading the headline.)

Scariest headline of the week so far: Toddler Served Margarita in a Sippy Cup. The moral of the story: It's best not to put the margarita mix and the apple juice in identical-looking containers.

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