Monday, April 12, 2010

Automobile Antics

Despite my protestations of being a capable adult who can do things like file my taxes and pay my bills, I have to admit to being a bit of a car ditz. And yes, I am sending my tax documents to La Moustache to file them, but not because I can't do it! I simply choose not to because Moustache did work in my name in '09 (visa restrictions), and I think he should deal with the headache of figuring it out.

Lately it seems like it is one thing after another with my car. It started shortly after I officially became a Masshole, registering my car in the Bay State and even putting the dreaded MA license plates on my car. Was it punishment for becoming a Masshole? Perhaps. I had absent-mindedly noticed a few times as I got into my car that it was foggy inside, and wondered idly about it. Then, one day during the epic rains we had in mid-March, I heard a distinct sloshing sound as I pulled up to my afternoon job at School #2. I looked down just in time to see a wave of water swoosh from the passenger side in front toward the back of the car.

The rains finally let up a couple of days later, and I spent an hour or so sopping up the pond until most of it was gone. I cracked the windows and waited patiently for the rest to dry up, hoping that my problem would disappear.

This did not turn out to be the case. Instead, my car problems took an unexpected turn one day the following week when I visited the Harpoon Brewery for a beer tasting. They sell growlers, solid 64-ounce jugs that they fill up with beer, and my friends and I eagerly bought several of them. One friend had biked over to the brewery, so we loaded up my trunk with her growlers and mine, four in total.

As I drove home, I heard an ominous cracking sound, then thought I detected the delicious smell of fresh-out-of-the-growler beer. I hoped against hope that I was imagining things, but this did not turn out to be the case: when I got home, I discovered that I had lost one beer growler and one cider growler, leaving me with one remaining growler of each and my pond with a compelling new odor.

The next morning, I was driving my friends to the airport early, then staying at their house for a few days. I packed the remaining two growlers into the car so that I could enjoy the one while housesitting and drop off the other after my trip to the airport. This time, I was much more careful with the deceptively robust-looking bottles: I wedged one into the floor of the backseat, and kept the second one next to me up front. Sadly, the cap broke off Cider #2 despite my precautions. As I drove the last leg of the way to drop off the final growler, I held it in my lap, praying nothing would happen.

The last growler did make it, but less than a week later the monsoons began again, and the depth of the pond again began to increase. I wish I could say that I've found a solution to this problem, but sadly that is not the case, and frankly the beer smell does not seem to be going away either. Most of the time I don't mind it and even enjoy it a little bit, but if I ever get pulled over I doubt the cop will be impressed.

Then today as I rushed out of the parking lot of School #1 headed toward School #2, my car began beeping with an urgency that surprised me. I looked down, and saw to my horror that the oil light had flashed on. This prompted vague recollections of instructions I received from La Moustache prior to my departure: something about when I should get the oil changed, as well as information about the plug being broken, necessitating a vacuum oil-removal technique. I briefly contemplated my options, wondering whether I should try to find a service station, pull over and call for help, or just drive and pray.

The light flashed off a moment later, and I breathed a sigh of relief and continued on my way. After completing my 11-hour workday, I set off in search of a service station. The only one I could find open was manned by an elderly Greek man who was in the midst of a major repair job and told me he couldn't help me today, but I could come back tomorrow. I explained my predicament and he promised to check my oil. “Pop dee hood, please!” he called to me. “Ummm... how do I do that again?” I replied, wishing for the millionth time I had pain more attention to all the attempts anyone has ever made to teach me anything about cars. He laughed, waved me out of the car and popped it for me.

When he checked the oil, it was bone-dry. “Honey!” he said, drawing out the O so it rhymed with phoney, “you can't let that happen! Gotta be careful or it's gonna cost you a whole lotta money.” He sent me on my way with three liters of oil in my engine and brushed off my attempt to pay, no doubt out of pity.

Tomorrow I'm turning over a new leaf in car ownership. I've scrapped my plans to wait until the Brazilian comes back from a trip to Italy to figure out the leak, or to hold a contest and let whoever fixes my pond problem be my new boyfriend. Instead, I'm going to bring my car back to my new Greek friend and have him change the oil, and ask him about ideas for how to deal with the pond. Who knows, I may even invest in an air freshener.

1 comment:

  1. ***Update*** It turns out that the light that came on wasn't the oil light after all, it was the engine coolant light! Good thing I took it in for an oil check anyway. Perhaps "car idiot savant" is a better way to describe myself than "car ditz." (The engine is fine.)