I got into the car to drive to the track for a short stroll before tomorrow’s race. But that wasn’t The Weirdest Thing In The History Of The World.
I was driving home last night from work. Thanksgiving night, pumpkin pie waiting for me. And then the car started sounding weird. I’m not a master mechanic, but when it starts going WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP, that tends not to be a good sign. I pulled off the freeway as quickly as I could, stopped on the shoulder of the access road and got out to expertly assess the situation.
It was very dark, which I suspect had to do with it being night. As I walked around the car, I could find nothing wrong except that the left front tire was flat. Playing a hunch that this might be what was making the WHUMP WHUMP sound, I set out to change the tire. But that was not The Weirdest Thing In The History Of The World.
In hindsight, this was a Very Bad Idea. Longtime readers will recall that the 1988 Honda has a long list of “quirks.” One is that the flashers don’t work. The car was sitting on the stripe of the shoulder, meaning my pit stop would have to take place in the right lane of the access road. It’s Very Dark. I might have mentioned that. And I’m guessing half of the people driving at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving are a bit tipsy.
I considered just calling AAA, but my Guy Pride would not allow me to watch someone change a tire for me. So I pulled out the toy tire spare, got out the toy jack, and crossed my fingers. It’s hard to change a tire with your fingers crossed.
I faced the oncoming traffic while I started cranking the toy jack, so that if a car was coming at me at 70 mph I could jump out of the way. Um, right. I cranked and cranked and cranked and cranked and cranked and nothing happened. So I cranked and cranked and cranked and cranked and still nothing happened. I developed a system of watching down the road and moving in front of the car when a bunch of traffic was coming, so when the car was hit at 70 mph with me in front of it I would be safe. I am a Smart Person.
Eventually, I looked to see why it wasn’t working. As it turns out, the jack has to be under the frame, and not just the car body. I had managed to lift the car body several inches, but that was little help. So crank down crank down crank down hide in front of car crank down crank down pee in pants crank down crank down. WHY THE HELL DON’T THE FLASHERS WORK?
I have been driving 17 miles each way to work and back for a year now in this car. I have thought almost every day about what a bad idea it is to have no flashers if something went wrong, but never worried about it because clearly what could possibly go wrong with a 30-year-old car still running on its original oil. And then, this. I make a silent vow to the running gods that I will get rid of this car if I survive the ordeal. But that is not The Weirdest Thing In The History Of The World.
I reset the jack, crank forever, get the tire off, put the toy spare on, dodge a truck, and get back in the car. Mo calls, wondering where I am. I explain that I had a flat, I finally got the answer to the lingering question “what would happen if the car broke down in a bad place given that you don’t have flashers” and that I was coming home. I assure her we will buy a new car immediately. This was the last straw, whatever a last straw is.
When I arrive, Mo is looking at car ads and making suggestions. The words “Mini-Cooper” keep coming up. I don’t care, I say. Anything but this car.
So this morning, I go to the tire place. The guy isn’t sure what’s wrong with the flat tire other than that there’s no air in it, but notes it’s probably time to get new tires anyhow. Which is stupid, because I’m getting rid of it. But then he mentions there’s a Black Friday Rebate, which makes them practically free other than $360. Who could resist? I say sure.
I call Mo and tell her I’m getting tires. WHY? she asks. WE’RE GETTING RID OF THAT CAR! The sad thing is that I’ve had it for 30 years, half of my life. I vowed I’d never abandon it as long as it kept running. And now I’m pulling the plug just because the flashers no longer work. I consider a last-ditch fix, checking the fuse, but when looking it up online, it shows that the flashers share the same fuse with a lot of other stuff, so it can’t be that. I give up.
I go home, change into my running togs, and get in the car. In one last desperate act, I flip the flasher switch.
And they work.
I’m not much of a believer in Signs. But after two years of the flashers not working, on the day I’m ready to abandon my pal because of it, they pick this particular time to make their triumphant debut. The car apparently had been faking the whole thing for years.
And that was The Weirdest Thing In The History Of The World.
I’m guessing the last motor mount will snap on the way home tonight and my engine will be left behind on the 202 near 24th. Oh, well. At least I’ll be able to use my flashers …