Monday, June 08, 2009

what's that smell?

let me start by warning you that this will be the second driving related post in a row on my blog. i promise, however, that this isn't another "now i understand why the south carolina DMV doesn't make transplants take an exam- no matter where we're from, we probably drive better than the natives" post.

however, though i'm tired and had a 3 hour commute home, if i don't pound this out now, the finer details may be lost, and it won't be nearly so amusing.

5:15 pm: leave work. notice cell phone is down to one bar of battery life. guess i'll have to charge it when i get home.

5:25 pm: while coasting down a hill, downshift.

5:25:15pm: make that "try to downshift" i've gone from 5th to 4th to...why is 3rd not happening? wind up in 2nd, then settle back into 4th.

5:25:45 pm: pull up to fairly minor intersection. as usual, pop car into neutral while i wait for the light to turn.

5:27 pm: light's green, car in front of me is moving, and i can't get into first....or second. (yes, daddy, sometimes i start in second.) quickly learn that, while car now seems willing to try third, trying to start moving in third gear does not make the car happy. in fact, the little red "warning" icons on the dash light up rather quickly as the car expresses its indignation by stopping. in the middle of the intersection. with an 18-wheeler two cars back, probably muttering under his breath about female drivers.

5:27:20 pm: restart car and coast across intersection and into shoulder. am thankful i didn't wind up "fred flintstoning" it, especially since i'm in flip flops on a road that seems to be overdue for repaving.

5:28 pm: mama, whom i tried to call about 10 minutes ago, calls back.

"hi, mama. uhm, i think the smoke i'm seeing is from my clutch and i have only a bar left on my battery and i need to call AAA. can i call you back?"

5:30-5:35 pm: on the phone with "xavier" at AAA. after rattling off the basic information and assuring him i am in a safe place, i relate the above to him, capping it off with "can you send a tow truck?"

from his end, there's mostly the sound of typing. it really would have been better if he'd just taken down what i'd said, told me when to expect the truck, and we'd hung up (preferably before my phone died.). however, xavier wants more information:

"now, ma'am, is your car a manual or an automatic transmission?"

you're kidding, right? did i not mention the clutch? all of the gears i'd attempted? clearly things are not going to work out with xavier. i prefer men who actually listen to what i have to say once in a while.

"ma'am, what do you think the problem is?"

too easy. i skip the obvious answer (he needs to take a q-tip to his ears, and i don't mean adding a tribe called quest to his ipod, and mention i think it might have something to do with the clutch.

"ma'am, can you start the car?"

yes, but given that it was just smoking a couple of minutes ago and i'm pretty sure that burning smell isn't just me roasting in the 85 degree heat, i'm not exactly inclined to crank it up again, besides, without a clutch, i'm not going far.

5:37 pm: xavier, either satisfied with my answers, or officially giving up on me, tells me to expect a tow truck in approximately 70 minutes, then hangs up.

5:40 pm: call my dad. very briefly inquire about the life expectancy of a clutch (my last car, the sundance, was still on its original clutch until just past 200,000 miles. apparently, this is not normal.), as well as the price of a replacement (somewhere between what i have in the bank and what would necessitate sprouting bigger boobs and picking up an evening gig that may involve mastering the art of walking in 6" lucite stiletto heels).

5:42-7:20 pm: while waiting for a tow truck:

~read a full issue of "national geographic adventure" magazine. learn about steve fosset's last flight, natural bridges i didn't know existed in arizona and kentucky, and pick out several adventurous future vacation destinations.

~am offered help 4 or 5 times- including once by a guy on a bike (and by "bike", i do not mean "motorcycle" or even "moped". i'm guessing this chivalrous soul would have let me ride on his handlebars, though) who called me "boo".

~field several calls- all of which i keep to under 30 seconds, explaining that now my last little battery bar is blinking and making an unsettling "ping"ing noise.

~swat (unsuccessfully, judging from my itchy ankle) at a mosquito that has decided to keep me company until the tow truck arrives.

7:10 pm: on the other side of the road, a maroon ford explorer has come to rest in the grassy shoulder. i mutter that i have dibs on the first tow truck, and about the time i finish the sentence, the driver tries to restart the car. the sound is not unlike that of evenrude in "the rescuers". about a minute later, my competition for a tow is gone.

7:20 pm: tow truck arrives. not one, but two guys hop out. i suppose this is good. axe murderers usually work alone, right?

7:25 pm: car is on the truck, and we're back on the road. tow truck guys ask if i'm ok. i tell them i'm long as i don't raise my arms and knock them out, as two hours of sweat is not exactly a smell one would want to bottle up.

7:30 pm: head out on the highway...lookin for adventure..... oh, sorry. for some reason, when i hit an on-ramp, that chunk of "born to be wild" generally winds up in my head.

7:35- 7:45 pm: small talk with tow truck guys....mostly with the driver, while the passenger is counseling his daughter, via cell phone, on the importance of not leaving her nintendo DS and DS games where her sister can get to them. it seems i'm not the only one who learns things the hard way.

7:50 pm: subject of my age comes up. have to haul out driver's license. driver nearly runs off the road reading it.

7:52 pm: driver's cell rings for fifth time. he has been ignoring it all this time. i ask if it's a girl calling. inquire as to whether i should moan in the background while he answers. he nearly runs off the clemson road bridge. after regaining control, driver calls his dispatcher and asks her to call his house and let them know he's busy.

reply from dispatcher: "how busy are you?"

snickers from myself and passenger. solemnly promise that if he answers the phone, i will not make any noise. (this, of course, is as the phone is ringing for the eighth time.) unfortunately, snickering while promising to be quiet ruins the effect.

7:55 pm: driver almost blows a turn on the way to AAA. i tell him that if he winds up with extra mileage, it'd better not be deducted from my AAA account. this causes him to blow another turn.

7:57-8:10pm: car is unloaded. since apparently my car is stuck in gear (though my gearshift felt to me like it was in neutral), the unloading involves half a can of pam for cars, as well as a series of manouvers performed by the movable bed of the tow truck that cannot be reenacted without a disclaimer and at least an "R" rating.

8:10-8:15pm: call for rescue, dig out spare key to throw into AAA drop box, and head to front curb to wait for my ride.

8:30pm: arrive home....over three hours after leaving work. guess i won't be getting anything extra done tonight. comtemplate spending time practicing how to walk in heels (sadly, i do not own any of the lucite variety). elect to finally post something new to my blog instead.


just some dude said...

Two things, a clutch should only last about 40 to 50 thousand miles, and second, you wouldn't need to sprout bigger boobs because your butt is so nice, though I'm thinking that walking in the 6 inch lucite heels will preclude you from making any money in that profession. ;-)

Callie said...

First of all - I agree with your previous post. Yes, onramps are made for speeding up and merging with the flow of traffic. Sadly, most California drivers use it as a tourist attraction.

Second - if a clutch is only supposed to last 40 to 50 thousand miles, as the above commenter has suggested, maybe I should worry. I'm at almost 150K. Then again, I find bottom of the line Dodge models to outlast just about anything else on the market.

Finally - glad you made it home okay. It sadly sounds like some of the situations I've been in (with my non-Dodge model cars). Good luck with the second profession. I'm sure you'll raise more than enough money for the repairs and your b-day trip (with or without the stillettos). :-D