Sunday, January 17, 2010

in which i narrowly avoid learning yet another lesson the hard way

i have to get used to driving my car again.

i made a deal with SO the weekend before we left on our respective winter vacations: since he was going to be away from home (charleston) longer than i was (columbia), and his flashy new chariot (a corolla almost exactly like the one i was seriously considering over the summer, during the great clutch/transmission debacle) gets slightly better mileage than my 8 1/2 year old wheels, we swapped for a few weeks.

as i headed to work this afternoon, and he headed out of town, we swapped back.

have you tried to switch back to driving a 5-speed after driving nothing but automatic for four weeks? it took my left foot a minute to figure out what it was supposed to do, which led to yours truly sitting in the parking lot, looking like an idiot, trying to figure out why the car wouldn't start.

uh, duh.

SO's main reason for wanting to switch back was that my car had started running hot again on his trip up from charleston friday night, and since he had a long drive back, he didn't want it to overheat.

this is an annoying habit my car had picked up on an intermittent basis lately. over the summer, my trusty mechanic said that there was condensation on my thermostat housing, and that it was okay for the moment, but would eventually crack and i'd need a new one. he said it wouldn't be a huge deal, so instead of freaking out the first time the needle inched toward the red line, i simply turned on my heat full blast, which i balanced out by rolling down my the middle of south carolina winter, which means it was about 50 outside. (actually, the window part isn't unusual. i've been known to suffer frozen hair because i have a habit of driving with the window down, year round.)

today, however, the needle shot up almost immediately, and despite running the heat full blast, didn't budge from its new position, unnervingly close to the dreaded red line.

i believe this is pretty universally considered a problem.

thankfully, i work with boys. not only boys, but boys who know basic things about cars.

when i got to work, i went up to one such boy and asked him if, before he left for the day, he could peek under the hood of the car with me and help me check my coolant....just in case this wasn't just a thermostat housing problem that i could blow off.

did you know a car can still run with a miniscule amount of coolant? thankfully, i do not know exactly how short that trip will be, because after discovering the source of my problem (hoepfully the sole source), the aforementioned boy went out in search of a vat of coolant, so i wouldn't be wandering around the aisles of various gas stations in the wee hours of the morning (i get off at midnight on sundays) in search of this chartreuse elixir.

ooh! ooh! ooh!- let me point out that i thought to fashion a funnel out of one of this thin, plastic water bottles, which seemed like a far better idea than my initial plan to make one out of paper- macgyver would be so proud, despite the lack of chewing gum or a paper clip being involved in this little project, which is not to say i don't have them in my backpack at all times, just in case.

so, now i'll be able to spend the entire drive home this evening getting reaquainted with my car....rather than possibly spending part of it getting acquainted with yet another tow truck service in the middle of the night. this is a good thing.

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