Friday, July 18, 2008

The Ultimate Driving Machine: I'll Never Know One

I have absolutely no confidence in my relationship with automobiles right now. Rattle-rattle thunder clatter BOOM-BOOM-BOOM...the Midas touch...Double A-(Beep-Beep)-M-C-O might as well all be plugged into my GPS.

My car--my dark blue Volvo station wagon--has been in the shop for almost a week. In my last trip to the dealer (see blog), the mechanics finally found the leak in the radiator that my husband suspected was there a year ago.

"So, what's the next step?" I asked my dealer service guy.

"Well, you need a new radiator," he said.

Now, without much warranty left on the car, it was time to search out newer (i.e., better, less expensive, not the dealer) mechanics to take care of the job (and maybe reset my car's computer with the "Check Brake Light" warning message). I called a place that had serviced the car in the past, and they said they could take it. Would I mind bringing it by to make sure they got the right radiator? (Good move) I gave them the OK to order the part and waited for them to call and begin work.

And waited...and waited... (2 weeks later)

After vacation, I remembered I was driving a car with a dysfunctional radiator. I called my new mechanic guy.

"I was calling about my radiator."

"Yeah, I completely forgot about that. What happened to that?"

He would later change his statement to say that he hadn't forgotten about the radiator. His supplier simply hadn't shown up with the supply. (Do I bow out now?)

He called the supplier--while I was still on the line with him (good move)--and the supplier promised delivery in the morning. OK. We dropped off the car that evening.

("Hey, your left brake light's out," my husband says. "What?!?? OUT!?!? This is, of course, the one "fixed" by the dealer on the last visit. "I'll fix it," he says. I'm too out-of-sorts for words at this point.)

The mechanic said he needed a day and a half. I call him when it's been this much time, since I haven't heard from him.

"Um...We don't have a radiator."


"The one we got doesn't fit your car. We're calling around for other ones," he said. "There's something about your car...."

"Can I have my car back?" I asked, anticipating the weekend and a busy start to the next week.

"No...It doesn't have a radiator. We took it out."

The expression 'Doh!' comes to mind, but I don't usually have Homer Simpson moments. I sat back on the sofa and did the only thing that made sense.

"God, you know how I feel about car troubles. I don't know what I'm doing. I just know things aren't right. I want to be calm. I need to be flexible. Please help me to trust you, even with something like car trouble."

The mechanic called back within 10 minutes of that last conversation. (Good move) He secured a radiator. It will arrive on Monday. And, he has a loaner car for me! Within the time he says, he arrives at our front door with the key to our 'new' car.

"And I'm sorry, Ma'am." (Very good move)

Praise God for His provision and unmistakably perfect timing!

* * *

"Mom, our car is better than this one," says Daughter #1, as she proceeds to point out the flaws in our 'new' driving machine.

True, it's a mechanic's dream. A little replacement metal on the outside. So
me torn interior on the inside. (The fabric lining the roof interior actually hangs down like a curtain for the back window.) Dead spider. Matches in the door pocket. And that very familiar scent of Eau de Garage--part oil, part grease, part cigarettes, part rubber, part guys-who-work-in-cars-all-day. If Sanford and Son had a car, this would be theirs. (And if Sanford and Son hooked up the with Sanford/Townsend Band, they'd have had a hit with "Smoke from a Distant Junk Truck Fire." But, I digress....)

Still, it's an answer to prayer.

But, the Dodge Intrepid is not without mechanical challenges. The fuel light comes on regularly and the fuel gauge rises and falls with the turns in the road. The steering wheel creaks like a dungeon door when you turn it. The window and door locks are not very lockable. And today, a strange knocking from the glove compartment. For a car whose name means "not alarmed, anxious or afraid," I'm starting to feel Intrepid-less!

And, it's a good thing, because, 15 minutes before closing time at the shop, my mechanic gives me a buzz. My Volvo is ready to come home from sleepaway camp! We rush to pick it up before they close. I pull into the lot and turn the key to our loaner for the last time.

"You returning 'Our Chariot'?" asked a shop employee.

"Yes," I said, choking back gobs of laughter. A mechanic's dream--did I tell ya?

I'll take my boring Swedish wagon over the Roman coach any day--except for those days when God gave me the opportunity to ride in a chariot...even though I'm still no Ben Hur!

(And now...about that "Check Brake Light" warning message....)


Chatty Kelly said...

Okay, don't leave us hanging. Check Brake Light?!?

This is a good example of be careful what you pray for. When you pray for patience, God gives you an opportunity to be patient. When you pray to trust God, he does indeed provide...but perhaps not with the mercedes you were hoping for. Our God is an interesting God. Gotta love him!

The Patterson 5 said...

This was such a fun story-but I am sorry it had to happen to you! I am glad you can chuckle over it! The Sanford and Son Truck- my dad has one- in fact all of my brother's college buddies would hum the song as my dad and brother would haul all of his college stuff each fall and spring to and from Clemson. Funny thing though all of the grand kids LOVE the truck-it's one of the high lights of visiting Papaw and Grammy!

My ADHD Me said...

HA HA Too funny.

I think Mechanics and Used car salesmen must have to take a certain class TOGETHER before they start working. They're working together!