Monday, August 21, 2006


If It Weren't For Bad Luck ...

... I'd have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and misery on me.

So yeah, I set off on Saturday evening to attend the natal festivities of my pal Gaile. Now, I should have known that there was going to be trouble, seeing I hadn't busted my foot and I usually do before I go to the US. However, I had bruised the baby toe on my left foot pretty thoroughly a couple of days before (note to self: people who live in houses full of way too much shit shouldn't insist on going barefoot all the time) and so I thought to myself, "Self," I thought, "maybe the right foot and the breaking thereof is for Seattle and the bruising of the left foot is for shorter trips."


About 3/4 of the way to the border I noticed that a) the passenger compartment of the van was filling up with smoke despite nothing having been set alight; and b) the temperature gauge of the engine was WAY up over the top of where it stops actually being able to measure temperature.

Both of these signs seemed to my vehicularly-savvy mind to indicate that there was some sort of problem. I immediately did what any sane person would do; pulled the car to the side of the road and got out my knitting. (note to all of those who are waiting, breathlessly, for me to make a fool of myself over the Eris cardigan: the needles have not yet arrived and I am using the waiting time to make a stash-busting mitred square blanket in dreadfuly squeaky acrylic for a new baby whose mother will appreciate it greatly. Pictures eventually when my almost-broken digital camera decides to cooperate).

After smoke stopped coming in through the air vents, I got up enough courage to pop the hood and leave it propped open for a while to let stuff cool off. I figured that was the logical first step. (Well, right after the knitting, that is).

After about 45 minutes or so, when nothing had actually burst into flames, I guessed that it would be ok to put my hands in the engine, being careful to have a piece of toweling in between my skin and any metal bits. I checked the oil and most of the 2 litres I had put in there before leaving the house was still in place. I then checked the radiator, which was bone dry. I mean, I didn't even have to worry about getting burned by steam rushing out, as there was nothing in there to steam.

Now, I had had an oil change and fluid top-up and stuff about three weeks ago and thought that "fluid" might also include radiator fluid so I hadn't looked at it. The radiator is supposedly a sealed unit, so there shouldn't have been enough fluid loss anyhow to cause concern. (Apparently the oil thingie is also theoretically a sealed unit, blowing that little theory right out of the water, but I feel in some manner betrayed, nonetheless.)

So, I scrootched around for a while inside my filthy, filthy van (I've cleaned it, which means that you can actually see the carpet, however this in no way means that there aren't half-bottles of everything from water to Jack Daniels [just kidding on the last one, mister traffic poleeseman -- I'm no Mel Gibson] rolling around under the seats). I found four bottles of water that had a little left in each, and put maybe 2 litres (maybe less) of water in the radiator and then limped, carefully, up to a farmhouse a couple of blocks away. I'm not usually a big fan of women knocking on farmhouse doors at dusk in Surrey, having seen enough movies where that leads to the female in question being killed and eaten, but it would seem that the persons in the farmhouse I visited had already had dinner and were happy enough to just top up the radiator for me.

At that point I likely could have made it all the way to Gaile's house, but I was pretty shook. (I don't have a cellphone so if there was ever any real emergency, I'd be s.o.l. until some hopefully non-stranger-eating person stopped to offer assistance, and this sort of reminded me of that happy fact). I was also pretty annoyed that it had taken me an hour and a half to get less than half-way through an hour and fifteen minute journey.

Anyhow, not trusting the radiator, I turned around and came all the way back home, arriving about two and a half hours after leaving and spent the rest of the evening watching bad movies with my husband: Starship Troopers, apparently loosely-based on the title of a Heinlein book (it certainly had nothing to do with the actual book) and um, something else which I can't remember the name of but it was bad, too.

The only thing I really remember is that we got to see some fairly nice boobs in the Starship movie and that was good enough for me.

So um, I think I'm just going to sit over here in the corner and knit from my stash for a bit until things get better, mmkay?

Clearly, you were meant to sit at home and knit.

Would you believe that I hit a possum one night (unavoidable as there was traffic coming the other way) and cracked my radiator?
At least you had the good sense to get out your knitting in this emergency! What else would any sane person have done?
How timely! I have to take my car in this week for all that 3,000-mile oil, lube, tune and fluid crap that I don't understand, so I will make dayum sure that it includes water in the radiator. Thank you for posting this funny yet extraordinarily helpful entry Rabbitch.
Whenever I get my oil changed they always say "The radiator's a sealed unit" in a very decisive tone, the implication being they dont' even have to look at it. I guess they're wrong (and I'll remember that for next time!)
Aw crap. I'm sorry you missed the festivities at Gaile's. Radiator check for SURE should have been in the list of fluids they should have looked at, so feel free to go raise hell with the garage.

For someone I know, the wunderkinds at the garage put the overflow radiator container (the plastic one) back into the engine the wrong way, and the engine burnt a hole right through it, causing all the radiator fluid to leak out. Nice job, guys. Glad you made it home ok.
Oh yeah - I went through that last summer - first the rad fan went, then just 5 weeks after I had the oil change/fluid top-up - hmm, the water pump somehow cracked - had to replace that or keep putting water in the rad after every 15 minutes of driving or sitting in Vancouver rush hour.
and yuck. When DH's radiator failed recently, it was just a problem with the overflow container (phew). But it still left lovely orange radiator fluid all over the floor of the garage. Evidently, his doens't use water???

Meanwhile, back on the Starship... the movie did share a few character names with the book, but otherwise... you're right -- clearly not the same story. Stupid movie makers. Hmph
My first car decided to grind up the ballbearings in the water pump one day as I was on my way to Carmel (you know, the town Clint Eastwood was mayor of). I pulled on to the side of Highway 1, popped the hood, and watched my car vomit coolant all over the engine causing blillowing plumes of steam. This was when a oh-so-helpful Carmel cop pulled over on the other side of the highway and told me over his loudspeaker that I wasn't allowed to park there. *sigh*
The fun just keeps on leaving, doesn't it? I applaud your brilliance in bringing your knitting with you for just such an occasion.

I hope your car regains its wits.
Heh, heh! I just had a flashback to 7th grade- watching Hee Haw reruns on the little basement TV- Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones- be still my little hillbilly heart. My friend once took her brand new Explorer back to the dealership for its first oil change and ended up in a rental car for 2 weeks while the dealer did major engine work on it. Mechanic #1 had drained the oil and replaced the filter before moving on to another car, but neglected to tell Mechanic #2 that he needed to refill the oil reservoir before giving the car back to Lisa. She ended up stranded in the middle of a busy 6 lane road ouside the dealership while drivers honked and gestured (it was in NY) and several salesmen blandly returned her frantic waves (no doubt wondering why she decided to park on the main road). The local garage now does her oil changes.
we definitely missed ya, it was a fun party, but glad you made it back safe and sound. another time perhaps.
wow, that sucks! i haven't had to sit on the side of the road nursing a radiator in a long time.

and that pink yarn, oh my god, absolutely amazing!

and ya know, you jinxed your self. just because you didn't break your foot doesn't mean SOMETHING wasn't going to break.

i wanna see eris!
That means you turn back, so you can watch a movie about invaders eating our BRAINS? Oh jeebers.
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