It all started a month ago. I turned the key on my car to the on position, causing it to emit a high-pitched whine not unlike a Fox commentator shortly after NPR’s dismissal of Juan Williams. This could not be good.
We’ve been waiting for the trusty ’88 Honda (212,000 miles) to finally go into cardiac arrest for the last 10 years. Was this it? Sounded serious. And a new city with no mechanic. There was only one possible solution: Ignore it. I just stopped driving it, fearful that I would trash the engine. Mo won’t mind driving me around for a few days, no?
Fast-forward one month. Mo has been providing taxi service, which gets later and later as my California shifts increase. Her amusement a month ago at providing chauffeur service is fading as quickly as Juan Qilliams’ chances of getting a complimentary NPR tote bag on the way out. My plan A was for her to be eaten by an alligator, thus freeing the other car up for me, but this does not seem to be happening, dang it. So i grudgingly agree to take the car in for repairs.
I have no idea if the car will make it to the shop. The shrieking noise continues as i drive but the engine seems to run fine. We drive to the little garage I had become smitten with by reading the glowing reviews on the Internet. But in reality it feels like a barn across the street from a cotton field, and the only mechanic we see is wearing camo pants and standing next to rabbit cages. Although it seems like it would make a fine intro to a Halloween slasher movie, we make a run for it.
We end up at the less exotic, but more predictable, chain place, where i engage in Guy Talk. making a weird noise, I say importantly. Somebody said it might be the fuel pump but I’m thinking catalytic converter. Like I have a clue. Ten bucks to inspect car thoroughly and they’ll go from there, Mechanic Guy says. Fair enough.
We drive home as I do the math. Just how much am I willing to spend to keep the car alive? A hundred bucks? Five hundred? Four figures? And what are the odds of finding the needed parts? I suspect the worst. Oh, well. It was a good car while it lasted.
An hour later, the phone rings. We found what was wrong, Mechanic Guy says.
Your windshield washer switch was just stuck in the on position, he says. There was no water in it, so the motor was just running continuously.
What did you do to fix it, I ask. We turned it off, he says. Oh.
What should I do if it happens again, I ask. Turn it off again, he offers. Oh.
I go in, pay my 10 bucks. Mechanic Guy manages not to laugh during the entire transaction. I exit the parking lot quicker than Juan Williams on the way to cash his new Fox paycheck.
The lesson learned in the Great Car Repair Caper of 2010? Don’t put things off. Always dab a little raw meat behind your wife’s ears when going to the nature preserve. Juan Williams is a genius. Although I would fear getting on a plane with him.
And when in doubt, always choose the place with bunnies in front of the garage. Being embarrassed seems a little easier when you’ve hugging Mr. Snuggles …