My Day

Fri 25 September 2009

Some backstory: Back in like 2007 my mom left a car at her job, in the parking lot of a police station, because it wouldn't start. Skip to today, where I, using her AAA membership, try to bring it home. Here is the story:

I get up to Chamblee (about 30 miles/90 minutes by MARTA) around 1pm, hoping I can either have this thing driving before rush hour or in a shop before they all close. I call a AAA tow truck, and he gets there about 1:45 and gets me to a local Goodyear about 2:00-2:15. But right before he puts the car on the truck, he determines that the problem with the car is not the transmission, which would be a costly fix, but a cheap little shifter cable bushing which could be easily bought at any local parts store! Hooray! I just saved a lot of money on an unnecessary fix! My day's looking up, right? I wish.

Now, we get to the Goodyear place, where I mistakenly went to originally because I thought I had a transmission problem, and the guy with the tow truck pops the bushing back on - I can has working car now? I wish - the tires are flat and the battery's dead. But those are minor problems, a jump and some air and I'm in business! Hooray!

Until we find out that since the battery's been sitting for so long that it won't take a jump, and I'll have to buy a new battery. Well poo, I though I'd get away without paying for anything today. But my mom's gonna pay me back, so it's okay, right? It was...

...until I couldn't undo the old damn battery. The thing had been sitting there for so long, and had been so neglected while the car was running, that the negative terminal was rusted on, and I couldn't undo it even with the help of some WD-40. Eventually, a mechanic from Goodyear came out with some vice grips and got the new one on for me, and I drove the car back over to the parts store where I bought the new battery to return the old one. I come back to the car outside, wondering why the car was driving so wonky, and see I've essentially been driving on a flat. Right - remember to fill the tire with air when I go back to the Goodyear. I'm backing out of my spot at the parts store to go back to the Goodyear, when...of course, the shifter bushing pops off again. Well, the wrecker guy did say it was shot. I try the gearshift a few more times, and hallelujah it works. I drive back over to the Goodyear and try to pull up next to one of the bays to fill the tire when - say it with me now...

...the shifter bushing pops off again. Now I'm stuck in front of the Goodyear and have to push it back into a parking space. I try to reach the bushing but can't, until another nice Goodyear mechanic comes over and pops it back in for me.

Right, so here's the plan: I probably only have one chance for this, so once I shift into Drive I can't stop until I'm back at the house. I start the car, drive up next to a bay, have the second nice mechanic fill up my tire for me, then I'm on my way home. Did I mention that the tags on this car are about two years out of date? No? Well they were, and I was going to have to drive about 40-50 miles on surface streets (because I didn't feel comfortable taking it on the highway) with tags that have been expired for almost two years in what I'm pretty sure was going to be rush-hour traffic. Joy. So I wave goodbye to the Goodyear guys (who were amazingly helpful, even to my slightly overprivileged self) and start on my journey home. I don't think I even made it five minutes.

So I'm on Chamblee-Tucker road, and my plan of action is to find the Chamblee MARTA station, which will lead me to Lenox Square Mall, which will lead me to Peachtree Street, which I can follow almost all they way home (because you're always only two streets away from one named Peachtree in Atlanta). So I'm cruising (in the loosest sense) down Chamblee-Tucker, when I start to play Warning-Light Bingo. I've got a low windshield-washer fluid light (fuckoff, who cares about wiper fluid? The car barely runs) and a check oil light, which I don't think has gone off since before the presidency was a gleam in Barack Obama's eye. But there's a new one - "Check Gauges"? What in the world does that mean? I mean, I know I need wiper fluid (and I really don't fucking care) and I need new oil, but I've known that for years. I just want to get the car home, okay? Fast forward a couple minutes, and I can't get that new light out of my mind. "'Check Gauges'? They've always been the same - oh God I'm an idiot." I mentally facepalm as I realize that I've been checking the lights instead of the gauges. "Well I still don't see why in the world I would need to check the *holy shit time to pull over.*" The temperature needle is beyond the red, and I basically emergency stop in the middle of a very busy street freaking out before I hightail it into a Quiktrip. It is at this point in time that I'm glad that I decided against taking the freeway hame or giving the car a shakedown, for I am sure I would have blown the engine. After parking (and thankfully having the car go into park) I remember that this car has a bit of a coolant leak issue, and that after two years there shouldn't be that much coolant left. I call my mom and she'll come back with me to get the car after she gets off work.

Flash forward about two hours, my mom realizes that they might sell coolant at Quiktrip (they do, FYI), she buys some, and we put it into the car. Moment of truth time - will the car go into reverse? Then will it go into drive again, allowing us to get home? Short answers: it does, we do, and I'm either safe at home or hallucinating all of this as I die in a fiery car crash. I think I'm safe, if only because if I were hallucinating there would be more scantily-clad women.

So - in the couse of about six hours, I:

  • Save a lot of money
  • Spend a bit of money
  • Prepare to spend a bit more money
  • Get stuck multiple times
  • Bother some nice people (really, they didn't have to be so accomodating)
  • Only make the car drivable in the loosest sense of the word.

And I don't even really want to drive that car. And mom owes me like $100 for all this drama.