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©April 2001

Carol Jane Remsburg



Car Crisis






Ever have your trusted car die on you when you really needed it?  It happens and unfortunately I'm always in desperate need of my car.  The Duchess is more an extension of myself than a real car.  She knows that I've "gotta be at work" on time and if I'm not—ugly things can happen.  Sigh.


It happened on Thursday morning.  I should have known though.  The evening before I made a quick trip to the corner store for gas and discovered my car radio blinking "code".  That means there's been some disruption from the battery to the radio—it's a built-in anti-theft feature with this aging car—now twelve.  When I came home I told hubby all about it.  He just discounted it—but I was worried.  He doesn't drive that car and I do.  I know the Duchess better than anyone for she's my car.  After 12 years if I didn't know that car then someone should worry.


Still, being the silly female I am, I just put the proper code in the radio and left it at that.  That night I had "abandonment" dreams which should have alerted me.  No, I relied upon that "male" thing called a husband to know about such things when I already knew better.  Perhaps I just didn't want to argue the point that I knew something was wrong.  I didn't want it to be wrong.


The next morning came.  It was Thursday!  The morning rituals past and it was time to dash from the house to the car to fire up the old lady to get to work and face another day.  What did I see and hear?  I every light on the dashboard light up and flicker as I heard "Rhur-Rhur-rhur-rhur-rrrrr."  I stopped.  By the last "rrrr" I knew I only had so many minutes to get this problem resolved or not—but I still had to be on the job in 30 minutes.  I always arrive 15 minutes early to clear old items and well, just to be sure. 


I ran back into the house with my pronouncement of this type of "Daddy Job" simply because it doesn't fall under my category of finesse.  I can manage a house, a child, all our finances, and even do light electrical work—but this isn't something I want to try my hand at.  Don came out—assessed the situation and wandered into the garage to get the battery charger.  That battery charger takes forever.  Lucky for me it only took a few minutes and I was reversing out the driveway with lightning speed.  He was hollering at me what I was going to do later.  I hollered back that I didn't know but I didn't care just now—CUZ I HAD TO GET TO WORK.  That's my life in a nutshell.


Once at work, a little more than two hours, I could take a quick break.  I called a recommended company who requested I bring them the car after lunch.  Hubby had already pronounced the alternator belt ragged and surmised the car had been running on the battery alone (wonder why the radio died).  All would need replacement and the company rep did a really good job at not trying to make their cringing obvious when I told them what kind of car, year, and model I had.  I think any car servicer hates my car.  I don't blame them, but when The Duchess runs, she runs well—it's not her fault she's twelve years old, Swedish, and out of favor.  It doesn't help that her belts and her plugs are really nasty to get at and deal with.  Let's not hate foreigners now. 


I managed to get everything arranged for a quick delivery at lunchtime.  Then the car wouldn't start.  Somehow I knew it wouldn't but I had to try.  A friend gave up her lunchtime to help me.  I was back to square one.  Thus I was also back to the phone.  That same friend told me to call them back and declare a roadside emergency.  I'd never heard it called that before but this was from a woman of experience.  I wouldn't doubt her for a second and I'm never above using my gender when I have to.  This is simply not my forte.  The company I called back was PASCO.  They were great.  They arranged to meet me in my employer's parking lot when I left work, gave me a jump and followed me to their shop where they did all the work in less than an hour and with a price that was also less than what I expected.  I could have wept. 


I'd spent the last nine hours terrified over how I was going to get home.  I was worried about my daughter, my car, and my job.  It had been so bad that I had the shakes.  Any of my co-workers would and could understand.  Unfortunately, unless you work the job I do then you don't understand the conception of "being late."  Being late is just as bad as "not showing up."  "Not showing up" is just one step away from being "separated from payroll" is how they term it.  We have had supervisors at the emergency room querying employees from car wrecks about just when they are coming in.  If you think that's bizarre, don't.  It is true and documented many times over, so a dead battery can shudder your soul.  I even had a fleeting vision of mounting my kid's small bike with that soft rear tire to pedal that 10.5 miles but I would never have made it in 30 minutes.  I'm too old and too tired.  However, adrenaline might have made the difference.


It was twelve hours of terror that I'd just as soon not relive.  So, the next time your car fires up with that ever-ready thrum—get out and kiss the hood.  She'll love you for it and may end up saving you a job. 


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