Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nothing Whatsoever To Do With Yarn

It's official--the bread van is toast.

(Oh come on, laugh. You know you want to laugh.)

I went to a mechanic that Sherry recommended. "He's great," she had told me, "You'll love him. He drags you over the car and shows you what's wrong and it explains how it all works. Oh, and he looks exactly like Santa Claus!"

Who could resist a Santa mechanic in this, the season of I-have-little-money-for-presents-let-alone-car-repair?

Not me.

Mickey does look just like Santa, too. He just has a shorter, more neatly trimmed beard. But exchange the work pants and shirt for a Santa suit, and you have a dead ringer for the sleigh boy. Seriously.

Poor Mickey about flipped when he found out how far I had driven with the shake, which was, in his words, "the worst I have ever felt." (I didn't have much choice, though. I had to be back for work on Wednesday.) He wasn't happy with a previous transmission job either (that one before my ownership time) because that mechanic had apparently installed a transmission that was almost, but not quite, the right size and it was set in at an angle rather than straight. * I know nothing about cars, but that didn't sound entirely happy to me.

And, knowing I had to get one sooner than later, I also asked him to check for inspection points. I need that stupid little sticker.

The list?

Boot and front CV stuff with the very real possibility of problems in the transmission due to the fact that the boot somehow managed to slide right up against the transmission (maybe because of strange transmission angle?). That was for the shake.

For inspection, brake pads and rotors, brake lines (all of them, practically), one strut that was almost gone, two headlights that have turned opaque and a fuel line that was almost corroded through. Oh, and a quick coolant fill up and oil change while we were at it. I think there were one or two other things, as well, but I have mercifully blocked them out. There's only so much bad news you can take in one sitting, after all.

Sherry was right, though. Mick did indeed pull me over and explain the inner workings of the bread van. He had me look at a special diagnostics screen to see what my strut (or lack thereof) looked like. I peered intently into wheel wells and found out exactly how everything should look and exactly how my car was failing in that respect. He explained what a tire lump was and how to find them (that I already did know about).

All of this information was actually quite interesting and had the added benefit of allowing me see that yes, all this did need to be done if I didn't want to drive a completely unsafe wreck of a car (like I haven't been doing that for awhile now, thanks to the ex and his buying the piece of junk to replace the dependable vehicle that he totalled).

I would have enjoyed this little automotive lesson, had it not been for the very loud Ka-ching that reverberated in my head each time Mickey added to the list. It looked like Christmas was going to be good for Santa.

But not for nothing had Sherry recommended this, the patron saint of gift-giving to me, because
somewhere in this litany, Mick looked at me and said, "You know, I can fix all this, and do it as cheaply as possible. But by the time you do all this for a car that will last only about another year, if you're lucky, you could have a nice down payment on a much better car." (Well, actually, he said,"...betta caa", but you get the idea.)

"But I can't afford a better car's car payment," I said.

"You need to afford it. You need to be in safer vehicle than this. I really don't think you should fix it, deah."

How many mechanics will tell you that?

Stunned, I called my parents (even at my age they want to know about car stuff) and had Mick talk the talk of car with my dad. My father hung up and then called me back, proposing that he and mom go to their dealer (whom they've gone to since I was a little kid and for whom they have absolute trust), pick me up another van in a price range I could afford, and "bring it out on our way to vacation."

My parents live in Iowa.

They vacation in Texas.

I realize that I am dyslexic/dysgraphic and thus sometimes have the directional abilities of a blind snail that's been swung in circles, but even I know that Maine is a tad out of their way.
I thanked dad for the offer, thanked Mick for his honesty and for the salvage place's number ("Because that is the only place that caa needs to be going." he said) and called for my ride.

Sherry, my erstwhile co-worker in mischief, picked me up from Mick's, talked me into going out to lunch and looking at cars at a dealership that her boyfriend goes to, and then let me hit the grocery store before bringing me home.

Gah. Think I will, for the moment, ignore the neatly stacked dishes patiently awaiting me, and instead put on a cup of tea, pull out my knitting, and watch something light and cheerful. Like, oh, Titanic.

*please note that, due to lack of general car knowledge and due to reeling over trying to sort out the whole I-suddenly-need-a-new-car idea, I may have mixed up car part names and such. So if there are glaring errors, mea culpa. Totally not the Santa mechanic's fault.

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