M. Giant's
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Sunday, October 24, 2010  

Commuter's Lament Part 2

The nice thing about having your car die when you're on your way back from a gathering of coworkers in a western exurb is that your coworkers are also on their way back. Which didn't occur to me until I called Trash from my dead car and she already knew it was dead. Which was because one of my coworkers had seen me and tried to call me, but only had my home number and not my cell number in her phone. So she got a hold of Trash instead. Which was how Trash knew I was in trouble.

She also told me that my coworkers, who hadn't seen me until after they were already committed to getting on the freeway, were turning around and heading back to help me out. By this time, I had squeezed just enough life out of my car to get it out of the turn lane and onto the shoulder, but not where I could leave it overnight. Fortunately, there was a school parking lot a block away. Close enough to push, in other words, if it hadn't been uphill.

Fortunately I'd stalled out in front of the home of a guy with a pickup, who towed me out of traffic so that my coworkers could drive me back to their hotel -- close to the office, and also closer to my house, so our friend Bitter could get me home from there. My boss said it was a good team-building exercise. I said I wished; it would be nice if we showed up at the office at the next morning and my boss's boss said, "Nice job" and handed me a bundle of wires.

Unfortunately, there was still the question of my getting to the office the next day. We all had to get there pretty early, before M. Edium could get dropped off at school, which meant I couldn't take Trash's car. Luckily Chao (who started at our company a few months ago, I think I forgot to mention) was willing to pick me up and give me a ride.

But that still left the matter of my car's corpse mouldering in an exurban parking lot. And unfortunately, because I was in training and meetings all day, it fell to Trash to arrange for it to be towed to a garage. Which she then couldn't find because it had moved for some reason. That's her story more than mine, although if I still had them I could reconstruct it for you from some very frustrated voice mails and text messages on my cell phone.

Fortunately my car was all ready to go by the end of the day, with a brand-new fuel pump that made me feel a lot better about never having the alternator replaced. Remember when the bus dies in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Hugo Weaving is unable to determine that it's the fuel pump? I always wondered if I would have been able to do any better. Now I know.

I also know what it's like when a fuel pump dies, especially because it happened again on the way home from the garage. At least this time I was able to coast to the top of an exit ramp rather than coming to a stop in the middle lane.

So anyway, between waiting for a tow back to the garage and checking back in and waiting for the loaner car (a rusty white Oldsmobile about which the manager said, "Be sure to get this back to us, it's our chick magnet"), I got home a couple of hours late, at which point -- on top of everything else -- I discovered that my DVR had barfed and not recorded Big Brother for reasons unknown. Realizing that I couldn't do my freelance work that night was even worse than realizing I cared when my DVR doesn't record Big Brother.

It turned out that the fuel pump they'd put in my new car was defective, lasting just long enough for their test drive to a southern exurb and back and then long enough for me to get the two miles to that off-ramp. The garage got it straightened out, of course, at no further charge, and offered me a free oil change, which I can't wait to tale them up on the next time I need one, in 2013. In the end, my car problems lasted almost exactly as long as the amount of time I temporarily went back to being an office drone.

One good thing about this: since we've both been working at home, Trash had been floating a few suggestions about us becoming a one-family car. She hasn't brought that up again.

posted by M. Giant 5:38 PM 4 comments


Every time I think about breaking down and finally buying car, I read something like this. I'm glad I live somewhere with decent public transportation so I can do without.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 25, 2010 at 3:15 AM  

I think you meant one-car family, in that last bit?

Sorry to hear of your car troubles. I would have been a wreck. Thus, I live in a place where I don't have to drive.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 25, 2010 at 9:33 AM  

I win! I had my fuel pump die while on a freeway on ramp (thankfully I was able to get my SUV onto the shoulder). WITH a dead cell phone.

Plus, it took the dealership 3 tries to get it fixed properly.

By Anonymous Dr. Feelgood, at October 25, 2010 at 7:16 PM  

It always makes me happy to see something good come from something challenging.

I work from home, and we've got two cars - perils of living in a transit-unfriendly city with three kids and a dog, I guess - but I defiantly ride my bike wherever possible. I don't put a lot of miles on my car as a result, but when I need it it's there.

By Blogger carmilevy, at October 26, 2010 at 9:30 AM  

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