Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Warning! Warning!

Last week I took my car in to a shop I trust for a routine oil change and tire rotation. I sat on their comfy leather couch and read a good book while I waited. Took an hour, and I was on my way. Thanks! See you in three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first!

That night I was driving home on the interstate around 9 p.m. My oil pressure warning light started flickering in the dark. Uh-oh. I kept watching it. Soon it came on and stayed on. My pulse quickened. At least twenty highway break-down horror stories flashed through my head at once. The next thing that flashed through my head went something like this:

Car 2 Years Old + Oil Change This Morning = Auto Shop Fucked Up


And then,


I was too scared to stop on the interstate in the dark. I was less than two miles from my exit, so I decided to push on. When I exited I pulled into the first parking lot I saw and stopped the engine. Smoke started coming from under the hood. Fortunately I'd remembered to put our cell phone in my bag that morning, and the battery was fully charged. I made sure the doors were locked and dialed my home number.


Tried again. And again. Hit redial 10 times.

Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. Busy.


I got out of the car. I tried to recall some of the moves I learned in my college self-defense class. All that came to mind was “Sweep the leg." Wait, that was Karate Kid.

I went to the back of the car and got out the 50-pound car emergency kit that M bought me. He had displayed it proudly on the dining room table so I would see it when I got home from work. When I spied it I said, “Wow! Did you buy me a new computer? A bowling ball? Uh... what is that?”

Silently I apologized to M for making fun of it. Then I cursed him for being on the phone when I needed him. Weren’t we soul mates? Wasn’t he supposed to sense my distress? Like Lassie! I looked around hopefully for any intelligent dogs that might have been patrolling the parking lot. There weren't any.

I opened the kit and got out the flashlight. I peered under the car and saw a suspicious puddle. I touched it, felt it, and smelled it. Yup, it was oil.

I popped the hood and pulled out the oil dipstick. Wiped it, reinserted. Pulled out and squinted at it. I quickly deduced that the reason the oil level wasn’t registering on the dipstick was because it was all on the PAVEMENT.

Got back in the car and locked the doors again, because by then I was pretty cold. Tried M again. Busy. Called my dad in Florida. No answer. Tried my best friend. No answer.

I looked through the emergency kit and hoped inspiration would strike. I found the first aid kit and looked at all the band-aid varieties. Wondered if there was a snake bite kit. There wasn’t, but there was a packet of Wet Naps. I cleaned the oil residue off my fingers. I tested the emergency whistle. It was loud, but M did not hear it. Neither did Lassie. That bitch.

I reviewed the instructions for what to do in case your car is submerged in water. Really, everyone should.

Finally! The cell phone rang and it was M! Angels burst through the cloudy skies and did a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria as they floated in circles around my car.

He came and got me. I reluctantly agreed on the way home that a midnight egging of the auto shop would not be the most mature response . He promised that he would stay home from work the next morning and help me take care of it. Not because he’s the man and all car-related issues are therefore his responsibility, but because he knows me well enough to know that car problems are one of the few things that make my anxiety swell to Swiss Alps proportions.

And you know what? He did.

And you know what else?

We still don’t have call waiting.


Blogger Lisa said...

Alex didn't come to the rescue? Lazy Alex!

And thank you for the reminder that I need to go get myself a new AAA membership.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I'm sure he would have come if he were tall enough to reach the knob on the front door. :)

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Mabel said...

GET CALL WAITING. (((Hugs))) Glad you're okay!

6:40 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

Step one: take out drain plug

Step two: drain oil


Step four: put in fresh oil

NOTE TO MECHANIC: Never EVER forget step three.

Now don't you wish that this was in the training booklet? Maybe you can print it out and deliver it to them for me. I hope your car troubles are over soon.


10:32 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

i'm just impressed that you know what a dipstick is, and where to find it ;)

roxanne, your technical knowledge is impressive as well.

1:38 AM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

At least you didn't remember "wax on, wax off" cos that wouldn't have helped at all!

I'm glad that you got home safely though. We don't have call waiting either...we just text each other.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Bearette- I used to do some of the work on my old car with my dad, so I have a limited knowledge of some things. ;)

It turned out that the oil filter was damaged/defective. We took pictures of everything and kept the filter, just in case there are any problems. The shop paid for the towing and also gave us a promise in writing that they would pay for any damage that might have resulted, so we can't ask for much more than that.

Oh, except they told me my next oil change would be free. Um, DAMN STRAIGHT.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Roxanne, if you're willing to beat up the mechanic for me (or at least give him a stern lecture), I'll give you the shop's address. :)

3:07 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

"I tested the emergency whistle. It was loud, but M did not hear it. Neither did Lassie. That bitch." Hysterical.

I have had many, MANY car mishaps since I started driving five and a half years ago, and I've been no good in any of them. The best I can do is sob in agony over Life's Latest Tragedy. Such a girl.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

Call Waiting and AAA, never leave home without them. Having the cell phone at hand is a whole nother matter for me though. I got stranded on the highway once with a blown out tire and it terrified me. Luckily a very kind police officer came to my rescue before I paniced.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:14 PM  

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