Monday, February 11, 2008

Between the click of the light and the start of the dream

So just when you're thinking you're doing OK, your car breaks down in Wake Forest. Or at least mine does ... maybe you never go to Wake Forest. Saturday night I was coming home from an agility trial in Youngsville, thinking about what I could eat for dinner. I didn't have anything I wanted to eat in the house and was thinking I'd drop the dogs off at home and then go back out when I passed a Food Lion. Why not stop now? Great idea! One gallon of milk, a half-dozen bananas some Grape Nuts and a frozen pizza later, I was back in the Pantsmobile but it didn't want to cooperate. It would sorta start and then with a great rumbly chugging noise it would die very quickly. I was stranded in a parking lot with two dogs and perishable foodstuffs in the car.

I knew this day was coming, but I was hoping to stave it off a little longer. Before I got this car (my first ever new car) I always drove beaters (also known as hoopties in some circles). I never knew when or where I was going break down so I just expected it. My first car (sometime around 1981) was a '63 Plymouth Valiant with a push-button transmission and primer covering the rusty spots. Then I had a sweet '68 Camaro with the passenger side bashed in from having been sideswiped. (That car only cost $350! It was great until I wrecked it.) Then had a '75 Audi Fox that had wood shims stuck at strategic places under the hood to keep the clanging noises to a minimum. One time in Wisconsin someone tried to hotwire my '81 Subaru but the joke was on him--the alternator had died and I was too broke to fix it. It was when my mechanic refused to put my '82 Nissan Stanza up on the lift because it was so dangerously rusted out that I finally decided to get my first actual new car--nothing fancy or expensive, just a down-to-earth Ford Escort wagon. And up until recently, it has served me very well.

But now it's approaching 200,000 miles and little crap is starting to happen. I knew something was wrong Saturday morning on my way to Youngsville when every now and the the car would give a little stutter/hiccup. I decided that first thing Monday morning I was taking it to my mechanic, conveniently located near my office in Raleigh. Not so conveniently located when I was broken down with two dogs in the car in Wake Forest and all I wanted to do was get home. Fortunately I have AAA and a very sweet friend who was willing to come rescue my dogs from having to ride home on a flatbed tow truck.

Now the Pantsmobile is at a Durham mechanic recommended by a friend. The place is two doors down from a house I looked at in Northgate Park--I had initially considered that one of the house's drawbacks but now I'm rethinking that ... I'm still waiting to hear back but he said his first guess would be fuel pump. That would be much better than my first assumption, which was "Damn, sounds like my engine is eating itself!" I really was hoping to put off getting a new(er) car until after I had procured a house. Then I think I want a Honda Fit.

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