Tuesday, August 22, 2006

24/7 Car Repair

I know nothing about cars. I know nothing about a lot of things, in fact. One could theoretically string together everything I don't know, end to end, till the link of my idiocy reaches the de-planetized Pluto and comes back again, infinitely. But today we're just talking about cars.

I'm driving a vehicle that is leaking something into (or out of?) something else and then evaporating off a really hot something in a very rubbery-smelling way. All I know for sure is that when a particular light on the dashboard glows orange--I've been told it's in the shape of a radiator--that I must add coolant to the clear thingy underneath the hood of the car. This is, apparently, a temporary band-aid that will cover my car's wounds until the parts my husband ordered from the Internet arrive at our doorstep.

Except that today, I couldn't get the cap off the clear thingy underneath the hood of the car. I tried, but not only am I afraid of opening it because I got psyched out by the message right on the cap that says OPEN SLOWLY, CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE!!!!!!!!! (or something to that effect), but also because I am weak. I am a weak idiot. A weak idiot on the side of the road in a state where no person is under any obligation whatsoever to express an interest in and/or care for another human being. I would've stood there all day if I didn't give up and get back in my car. I headed for a gas station. I needed gas anyway.

There was a man a the Shell station (cheapest around, by one penny) who looked just like my father. He was all white-bearded and porous as he shot the bull with the Pepsi delivery guy. Once my car was done refueling, I asked the gentlemen if either of them would be willing to help me get the cap off the coolant thing. The one who looked like my father was amenable.

"I have to keep adding coolant because it leaks out," I volunteered as he removed the cap, which came off with a gentle hiss that was not nearly as explosive as I feared.

"Oh?" He didn't seem to believe me. As if I am one of those modern, coolant obsessed women who juggles a baby, a writing career and a compulsive need to top off the coolant resevoir every 25 miles.

"Yeah," I said. "Yesterday it almost overheated!"

"Really?" He seemed to believe we were getting somewhere, now.

"It had plenty of coolant and then suddenly it was gone! Boy, I sure don't want that to happen again." I probably didn't sound that hokey, but almost.

"How's the oil?"

Ding! Ding! Bells went off in my head. I knew the answer to this! The Partner shared the story with me last night when I went to visit him in the garage. Those trips are rare for me, as I hate that workspace and everything in it. I feel roughly the same way about garages as I do about Home Depot. Both are cavernous and dingy; both are filled with mice, birds and plumber's cracks.

"The oil is fine. There's no coolant leaking in there. Nosirree. My husband checked it last night. This type of car is prone to coolant leaking into the engine, though. Yup, my last engine had that very problem. But not now. This time it's the filter." What filter, I have no idea. And, d'ya know what? He didn't ask.

So he poured in the coolant that I had pulled out from behind my driver's seat. Really, he was going above and beyond. I just needed the cap opened. I could've figured out the rest.

"There you go," he said, replacing the cap and closing the hood.

"Thanks," I said. He nodded and walked away.

I side-stepped to the driver's side with a spring to my gait. I waved at The Boss, who was content as always in the back seat. I felt like I had really accomplished something.

I averted disaster. All by myself. So what if I needed a little assistance when it came to the manual labor. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.


Dad said...

Close. It's the oil cooler, not the filter that's leaking. But definite points for trying. And remembering to do what I told you in case your coolant decided to go poison critters along the road instead of staying in the motor.

Whirlwind said...

Glad you adverted crisis. I figure thats what my cell phone and AAA are for. Or I could always call my uncle.

I once was driving my old-old car and had the muffler fall off (actually it happened a few times so I had to keep towels in the car to pick it up off the side of the road with).

Mom101 said...

I for one am GLAD for this happy ending because I gotta say, I don't know if I like the idea of somebody's mommy driving a car that's leaking things.

Melissa W said...

The car I currently drive is the first that I haven't had to learn something about a car to operate it. The first car entrusted to me I had to use a screw driver to start it when it stalled. This always happen as I was leaving my high school parking lot. Talk about embarassing! Then my next car the door would jam open and I would have to work that all out or risk the door flying open at inopportune times. And my last car, Well, I've blocked it from my memory. Its selling point was the lack of a car payment. The funniest part is my dad is a mechanic!
You know what they say, the cobbler's child is the last to get shoes..

Binkytown said...

"Prone to coolant leaking into the engine" Come on! How did you learn that? I would have been like "This car sucks that's all I know"

toyfoto said...

There is nothing more empowering than being able to handle something on your own. Especially car related. The first time I changed a tire all by myself I could have walked on air.

Jenifer said...

Great post! I was so amused I had to read it aloud to all my co-workers because they were wondering what i was giggling at!

Jen said...

binker don't feel bad... I don't know how to pump gas! Well I can't really say that, I got the idea and I can do it if I have to since Eric has FORCED me too twice already in my life...

Heather said...

Funny! I feel like I'm pretty darned smart about cars then, comparably. But, I confess, my hubby starts to ramble on about car stuff and my eyes glaze over. Just a "oh yeah" here and there seems to keep him happy.