Monday, February 01, 2010


Today Is The Worst Day of the Rest of Your Life

Man, my car-ma is all messed up.

Remember that nice car I got a couple of years ago? The Nissan Altima?

Well, it's now got well over 387,000 km on it ($23.95 for my friends in the US, if I remember my conversion charts properly). Anyhow, it's tired as hell and rattles like a maniac and W (my friend and mechanic) thinks that the strut tower is broken. It's fixable, but it's no longer a long-distance car. The last trip I took to Portland in September was its last cross-border adventure.

So he'd been on the lookout for a good car for us, and found a Mercury Sable wagon that fit the bill. I had been given some $ for my birthday, and my parents lent me a little, and I used some loot I'd been saving up for yarn stock for Stitches, and I bought it about two weeks ago, thinking I'd finally gotten a car big enough to carry me, a helper, my event tent and display items and my yarn and roving. Finally, I had a car in which I could do it up right. It's big, it's clean, it has a new transmission and head gasket in it, and it's only got 167,000 km on it. In "Rabbitch speak", that's practically a new car.

Saturday, I had to go to Sumas, just over the border, to pick up a couple of cones of yarn. W said he'd like to get the car up on a hoist and check a couple of things out, but the place that had my yarn was only open until 1 so I said I'd go there first and see him around 2, 2:30.

If only he'd insisted that I wait. If only I had some sort of psychic ability.

If only the fucking car hadn't blown up.

I beetled along the highway to Exit 92 (and I'll tell you, that car handled NICELY at speed ... I wasn't exactly booking it, but we got to about 110, 120 ... that's 43 pounds for you folks in the US) and all was well. I took the exit, burbled along for a block or two and then there was this STENCH. And then I noticed that there was some smoke coming out from under the hood.

Now, I'm no mechanic, but this seemed wrong to me. I took a right (illegally) and hauled ass into a parking lot and switched off the car -- FAST. My hands were shaking, but at least nothing had actually gone on fire so I figured I was ahead of the game.

Dude, I set my kitchen on fire -- TWICE -- in November. My new rule is "if it's not visibly on fire you're likely ok."

But I was scared.

I went and got something to eat. I hadn't eaten yet that day and my blood sugar was low, plus I wanted to give the car time to cool down. When I got back, I noticed that in my panic I'd parked pretty badly, so I moved the car back a few feet into a more reasonable semblance of responsible parking. When I got out, I noticed that there was a puddle of cherry red fluid. Again, I'm no mechanic but I know what transmission fluid looks like. That, plus the ocean of oil around the car led me to believe that it would be unwise to try to drive it the 50 miles back home.

I called W, he didn't answer. I called Mr. Assmuppet, and he told me that possibly the transmission had blown so it would be a bad idea to try to drive home. He called W and the general consensus was that I should leave the car there and take transit home.

Mr. Assmuppet did offer to come get me in the Altima, but he had to sleep, he was working that night. I had packed my book and my knitting, thinking I might have to wait a long time at the border, so I was ok for amusement. I told him to go to sleep, and headed for transit.

Now, as disasters go, this wasn't so bad. I was parked right in front of the Autoplan place, so I could buy two days of insurance for the new van and leave it there. I was right in front of Wendy's, so I managed to get some food. I was also on the Canadian side of the border and right in front of Zeller's, which had a working pay phone. There was a bus stop right outside of Zeller's and I had a bus pass and some money in my pocket.

And I wasn't in Haiti.

It really wasn't that awful.

I broke down at 12:30. After a burger and a bunch of calls, I got on the bus about 2:00. I took one bus to the mall ... and then two hours later the next bus showed up. Yes, two hours. But I got a bottle of water and some chocolate and sat in the mall warm and dry and read my book until the bus showed up. And then I took that bus, and then another bus and then the skytrain and then another bus and then yet another (if you don't feel like doing the math, that's five buses and a skytrain.)

I finally got home at about 8:30pm.

So now I'm home and my new car is doing an Exxon Valdez in front of Zellers, about 80 km from here.

I'll find out in a few hours if we can find a way to tow it up here without bankrupting me.

The very worst thing about the whole event is that when I cleared all of my stuff out of the car, I discovered that the shopping bag that I had to put everything into was advertising Corona Light. I had to spend eight hours in public with people thinking that not only do I drink Corona, but that I drink Corona freaking Light. I may never live that one down.

All is well. I'm safe, and I'm still not in Haiti.

But MAN, it sort of sucked to be me this weekend.

damn. and rats.
and it sounded like such a sweet and reasonable ride.
damn. and rats.
That is not fun - I had to have my car towed from Toronto to my dads (100 km) a few weeks back - $340 tow for a $100 fix... total pain in the butt! But at least no one thinks I drink corona light :) (and Im not in haiti) Sending lots of well-wishes your way for a happy outcome!
Ooh, *my* hands started shaking at the black smoke -- I don't much like burning car things. Scary. I'm glad you're OK. I'm glad the car didn't burn or blow up (and is therefore, one assumes, reparable). I'm glad that you had a book and knitting. And I'm glad you're not in Haiti. But it still sucks, and I'm still sorry you've got to deal with this!
What an absolute bummer of a day. I'm glad you can keep in perspective, but it certainly will take a lot of perspective to make it anything but horrible. The saying "it's only money" only works if you have plenty of money.I hope you and the car are on the road again soon - and if you ever get to southern Missouri, please drop in.
Well, hell in a handbag. I suppose it's nonreturnable too.
I am so sorry for your car woes. I suffer from them, too. I once had my passenger side carpet ignite. Thought it was from a cigarette. I threw 32oz of soda on it, and the person who stopped added another liter. I then coasted down the hill into a gas station, by which time it had reignited. As I pulled to the edge of the driveway there, I jumped out screaming, "Buddy! My car's on FIRE!!!" He ran over and stuck in a hose turned to full force, which rapidly quenched it. Turns out I had a hole in my floor and the catalytic converter had lost its shield, which was the equivalent of putting a blow torch to the carpet. Could have been worse. I once had my axle snap in two on the same steep hill. Took a sharp left into oncoming traffic, but managed to lurch to safety. Come to think of it, I should be happy I'm here to write this.
Life will improve for you, I'm sure. My show van has an electrical issue that results in it starting only on occasion, but I have good friends who come to my aid, as I'm certain you do, too.
My verification word is "wookesse." Do you make these up?
I suspect W is not your friend...
as a wise woman once said, "if it has tires or testosterone, you're gonna have trouble with it." lucky that mr. assmuppet's only "trouble" was the understandable need to sleep before working.

my 11.5-yr-old mom-mobile gave me a fright recently: totally and rapidly lost power (including power steering) as i drove on a busy street in rush hour. i strong-armed it into a grocery store parking lot, and that's where it spent christmas eve, day and night. luckily, dd's x-mil, who's a dear friend despite her jerk of a son, rescued me from the parking lot. on boxing day, i had it towed to the shop where i'd been told (by the dimmest light on the tree) that the funny noise under the hood was no biggie -- bring it in sometime after xmas. everyone else there has always done a good job for me, so i let them replace some damn part i'd never heard of before, forked over my credit card and went back on my $200-less-merry way.

your auto episode was much worse than mine, but i'm glad you're ok. good luck finding better wheels.

oh -- my verification word is "bidnet." isn't that what george w. bush used to be in -- tha awl bidnet"?
I just put "Mercury Sable" and "transmission" into Google and the results were upsetting. They seem to have had major transmission problems for years. If you can make use of a "lemon law" and get your money back, that would be good.
Okay, that's just about enough. it's time for Fate or Car-ma or whoever is responsible to ask someone else to bend over for a freaking change. The madness just has to stop sometime.

Look on the bright side... it could have been Bud Light.
Oh that is full of suck. I'm so sorry.
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