adult living: car repairs edition

i hopped into my car to drive up to feminist book club on thursday, & my car wouldn’t start! all that would happen when i turned the key is that the key would kind of get stuck & make a weird clicking noise. i had no idea what was going on. the last time i’d driven the car was on tuesday, when i drove home from the airport. a huge thunderstorm had blown through right before i got home, so i spent the last ten minutes of the drive trying to navigate through a torrential downpour & almost no visibility. i’d turned on the headlights, but it appeared that they had gone out before i got home, so i turned on the brights in the interest of having some light. when i parked, i had the windshield wipers on full blast, along with the radio, air conditioning, headlights, & brights. in the time that we’ve had the car, jared has twice left the headlights on & drained the battery, necessitating a jump, & i really didn’t want to have to deal with that, so i carefully turned everything off before i got out of the car & raced for the house. but maybe i left something on & the battery had gone dead? i noticed that the lever for the brights was in the on position. i called jared, but he said that the brights should have gone off when i turned the headlights off–& the headlights were definitely off.

my friend amanda gave me a lift up to book club, & jaimie drove me home. we had big plans to try to jump my battery with her car (jared bought jumper cables after the first time he killed the battery). we carefully parked her car so it was facing my car & i hopped out to fetch the jumper cables…& jaimie suddenly remembered that her car is kind of broken in that you can’t pop the hood. so i had to call thea & josh, who were out having dinner with josh’s mom. they postponed dinner & came over & we tried jumping my car. it involved attaching jumper cables in the feeble beam of a cell phone, since i apparently don’t own a flashlight. the jumper cables got hot, but my engine didn’t even try to turn over.

josh works at the local movie theatre, which was premiering “harry potter & the deathly hallows, part two” that night. i’d been complaining at book club about people i know in lawrence making plans with each other to go see it & not mentioning it to me. they all collaborated & got ticket blocks days in advance. by the time i tried to get a ticket, the day i came home from boston, they were all sold out. josh was like, “let me make a call,” & he totally got me a free ticket! but the theatre is way out on the edge of town, so i had to coordinate with him & thea to get a lift to the theatre, & then i had to meet up with grad school ladies afterward to get a ride home.

seeing the new harry potter movie in a sold out theatre for free definitely made me feel a little better about my car. but i was still wicked stressed. i kept wondering if maybe i had fucked up the car somehow driving in the thunderstorm. people talk about “flooding the engine”. i don’t know what that really means & i doubt driving in rain (even heavy rain) is really that bad for a car, considering that cars are routinely parked out in the open where they get rained on. but what do i know? nothing! i never expected to have a driver’s license, let alone a car. i don’t know how these things work.

when i got up on friday, i immediately called my car insurance people to inquire about adding roadside assistance to my existing plan. because the car wouldn’t start, i was going to have to have it towed to a mechanic. but jared is the primary policy holder & they wouldn’t even look up my insurance coverage without his okay. & i knew he was already at the archives for the day & wouldn’t be out until the insurance company was closed for the day. so i called my credit card company to ask if they included any AAA coverage, as many credit card companies do. jared’s credit card has AAA coverage. mine does not. i did learn that they boosted my credit limit up to $5000 though. which is more than a quarter of my annual income. i guess that will do nice things for my credit score, but it’s a little scary to know i have that much available credit.

i made my peace with paying for the tow & repairs out of pocket & started calling garages. the first four dudes i talked to sounded either drunk or like they were taking breathers in between murdering sprees. i finally got in touch with a mechanic who sounded awake, sober, coherent, & even pleasant. he gave me the number of a tow company & i got the wheels in motion. he said he’d have time to look at my car that day & figure out what was happening.

i gave it about five hours & then i called back for an update. the mechanic i talked to this time said, “yeah, your car’s here, but i haven’t looked at it because i didn’t know why it was here.” my hopes of getting my car back in a timely manner began to deflate. i explained the issue & he said i probably needed a new battery & he’d take a look. i got off the phone & cried for a little while. i am pretty good at handling routine problems, but car repairs are not a routine problem for me. i’ve never had to deal with this before, i had no idea what to expect, & it was stressing me the fuck out.

but to my amazement, he called me back to tell me he’d replaced the battery & some cables & the total for all the work, the parts, & the tow was only about $200. he even came & picked me up so i could retrieve the car from his shop. door to door service at no extra charge! sometimes i really like lawrence.

i consider this yet another threshold in adult living.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thea says:

    Hi Ciara. I Googled you after I Googled myself and a bunch of other people to see how punk rock Google shows you to be. I don’t know how reliable of an indicator of these things Google really is, but it shows what a zinester you are and what a YouTube comment-obsessed pedant I am. It also linked me to your blog about car issues. Anyway, flooding your engine isn’t about getting water in it. It means that the engine is “flooded” with more fuel than it can burn, but this is rarely a problem with modern fuel-injection engines. I wondered this a long time ago when I had the Subaru that wouldn’t run if the engine got too wet during bouts of precipitation or trips to the car wash. My Subaru mechanic told me all about engine flooding and assured me that it had nothing to do with water and gave me the skinny on what it actually is. Anyway, you didn’t fuck up your car, don’t worry! See you Thursday!

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