Friday, June 25, 2010

Taking stuff for granted

I make fun of my Lil Sis because she's a teeny, tiny bit OCD. Not shut-the-door-3-times-wash-your-hands-wash-your-hands nutty...but she keeps a clean apartment, is very organized, and her little corner of the world is quite orderly. I used to be this way too...then I got married :) Also, I recognized my perfectionism when I hit college and made a concerted effort to shed it, because at the time, I thought I was asserting independence and growing away from Dad's tyranny. Teenage I look back and wonder why it was so important to me that I NOT be a certain way, since all evidence suggests I turned out eventually to be a person I kind of like. But I'm already digressing...I mean to say that I get now that life ain't always in control. Heh, far from it.

Zen encourages living in the present. I've mentioned before that I have a leetle bit of a problem with that. I live restlessly, my brain/psyche/personality ain't happy where we're at, so until we're moving forward more productively, it's hard for me to appreciate the present. My restlessness can also be blamed on my lithium deficiency, as I notice that I handle the ebb and flow of life a LOT better when I'm on it, but this ain't about that.

The car died this week. It's a 6-year-old Nissan with 75,000+ miles on it, which we do a pinch more than the bare minimum to maintain. I'm absolutely in love with this Jap car...after years of driving Saturns that couldn't last beyond the first 100K miles, I'm perfectly willing to give my future automotive money to the imports (my next dream is to acquire something in the Subaru wagon/SUV family, thanks in large part to Jenna and her ability to transport 3 grown sheep in her Forester...seriously, Subaru should pay her royalties).

I hadn't been noticing overt symptoms of trouble with the car, just really small doesn't unlock easily with the fob, so I figure the fob battery is finally takes a pinch longer to start, I figure the spark plugs are needing a change. I know enough about cars to sniff out an issue, usually; but I still miss the hell out of being able to pick up the phone and ask Dad. But this was sudden...go into Publix to pick up staples, come out, and the damn thing won't turn over. Not even any clicks, like you get if a battery is going dead. This is the first part of the taking things for granted theme, because when your car suddenly doesn't start, your world is kicked off its axis. What the hell...? Why...? Now what...? I popped the hood, jiggled the wires, and borrowed a wrench from Publix to try and dig the corrosion out from around the contacts. Nothin'. Shit!

OK, now what? Battery's less than a year old, for pete's sake! We don't have AAA or jumper cables (yes, I get how irresponsible this is, but spare dough always seems to go to something more important, like food), and I can't stand the idea of waiting around the lot begging someone for a jump. I'm a woman of action, I'm tired, I wanna go home, and Publix is a whopping 1/2 mile from our place; so I call Les, tell him I'm stranding the car, and hoof it homeward. Call Mom for assistance after she's gotten settled from coming home from her work. She comes out, we jump it successfully, and manage to get it home to our place...make plans to assess the sitch again tomorrow night. I bum work rides from her, because she only lives a mile from us, and the city bus system is completely unfeasible for me (a 15-minute ride would take 2 hours).

Borrow Mom's car the next night with intention of taking our battery to Advanced Auto; since battery's less than a year old, they should be able to test it and replace it gratis if it's the cause of our problem. Say prayers that this is the case; because my brain is thinking alternator or starter, which would be significantly more expensive. We get to Advanced Auto and are told that their tester is broken. Begin slow burn....not helped by the fact that it's easily 90F outside still. Les cusses like a sailor. Feel helpless because Tires Plus has quoted us an estimate that's considerably higher than if we bought a rebuilt alternator from Advanced and then took it to a Mom-and-Pop, but the Mom-and-Pop has closed for the night already, we don't have the dough to purchase anything right then, and Tires Plus is waiting for us after-hours out of the goodness of their hearts and their desire for biz. Make command decision together to get car to Tires Plus. Jump car again. Mercifully, the car waits to die until Les pulls into the Tires Plus driveway...we push it into the waiting bay.

Tires Plus gives decent service...within an hour of their opening, they've called us to let us know they think it's the battery only, that they will get a fresh one delivered from Advanced Auto, test the car completely after the fresh battery is installed, and by the way, do we know our brake shoes could use replacing? We're so relieved that it's not the alternator, we let them replace the brake pads...besides, Mom's helping us with this fiasco, and is seriously grateful that we're accompanying Meara on her move to NC next week, so she's happy to oblige the Tires Plus guys' blatant salesmanship.

The car is back in our hot little hands. Reliefreliefrelief...Last night I picked it up, dropped dinner off with Les, and then went to hang with Mom so she could give us the added gift of AAA memberships ala online. We chatted, I didn't get home til 9.

Today I'm crawling out of my skin. I can already tell if I'm not careful, the weekend will go by too quickly, because I'm doing lunch with Christy on Saturday and there's plenty of other things that demand my attention. I want to sit and regroup; it's been a busy couple of days. I can't wait for work to finish.

To make a not-so-short story very long, I have a new appreciation for the way we take some things for granted. How dependent we are on our cars and how important their upkeep is. How badly I still want a bike, so I don't feel so tied to my car. How I wouldn't mind living somewhere more conducive to biking. How even though my size and the seriously populated commute route make it unrealistic for me to bike to work right now, the feeling of being stranded from not having wheels was really unsettling and required temporary behavior shifts that I'm still shaking off. I'm thinking hard about wants vs. needs. And I'll be taking time to just sit this weekend. And if I get a bonus in July, I'm thinking again of investing in two-wheeled transportation.

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