Monday, December 19, 2011
When It Won't Start: A drama in 3 days and 2 nights (and/or beyond)
Saturday, Dec. 17
1:48 p.m. (Scene: West First Street, Southie)
Very cold. Rehearsal starts at 2 at church (2.3 miles away). Car does not start in kind ... key turn produces wan vroom followed by ticking clicks, successive key turns produce even wan-er vrooms and fewer ticking clicks. Abort driving mission. Return to apartment, add sweatshirt, hat with ear-flaps and backpack to current outfit, pump up flat-tire on bike, pedal on down the road to be late (yet again) for rehearsal.
4:30 p.m. (Scene: Rehearsal, happy Advent music)
Still very cold. Hands still numb from bike ride with $2 gloves. Friends Brian and Chris listen to vocal imitation of wan vroom and clicks, assess it "might be" the starter. Sympathies professed. Mentally calcuate cost of new starter to be more than value of all remaining current parts of car. Recall insurance renewal is mid-January and could be not-renewed. Brainstorm scenarios for junkyard transport and/or zipcar membership and/or investment in sub-zero biking gloves.
6:46 p.m. (Scene: Red Line Subway Car)
Very cold and (now) very dark. Enroute to cookie-swap party in Teele Square in Somerville, 7-dozen gingersnaps in backpack, bike propped on knees. Text MSF to gripe; replies I should attempt complimentary battery jump from mechanic on Monday before assuming worst. Reminded via loudspeaker of Red Line partial suspension on winter weekends and there are no trains to Davis. Curse and question choice of high-heeled dress shoes and skirt. Brainstorm fastest route between Harvard and Teele Squares.
7:10 p.m. (Scene: "Up" Escalator, Harvard Station)
Yoga abs-of-steel engaged to counter backwards torque from bike slanting diagonally over 3 stairs, front tire jamming on one wall, back tire jamming on the opposite. Brief view of possible death or mortal injury. Mental note: escalators + bike + high-heeled dress shoes = pretty dumb idea.
7:15 p.m. (Scene: Mass Ave, Cambridge)
Twenty-mph headwind? Check. Spongy, low-pressured back tire? Check. Crunchy glass sound underfoot? Check. High-heeled dress shoes? Still on. Sub-zero biking gloves? Not yet.
11:30 p.m. (Scene: Southie Apartment, kitchen)
Home to rehearsal (2.3 miles x 2) + Harvard to Teele Square (2.5 miles x 2) + Broadway Station to home (1.2 miles x 2) + Temps in single digits + Still-spongy back tire + Still inappropriate shoes and gloves = f***ing cold fingers and toes. Commence Maker's Mark cocktail.
Sunday, December 18
All Day (Scene: Back Bay and Surrounds)
Very, very, very cold. Very, very, very underdressed (see: Scene: Red Line) and required to be out all day for church, shopping, concert and dinner. (Author's Note: Audience is allowed to smack Yours Truly upside head for not picking up parka from the drycleaner on Stuart Street, where it has been since May.)
Monday, December 19
7:15 a.m. (Scene: Southie Apartment, Interior)
Very, very cold. Lying under 3 layers of covers, picturing moment of truth when mechanic declares car total loss. Close eyes, hit Snooze.
8:45 a.m. (Scene: Emerson Auto, Southie)
Mechanic hands over a portable hand-held battery charger (yes!), explaining that it should be used to start car to drive back in for the check, in one swoop eliminating tow truck fees. Briefly want to marry mechanic. Car indeed starts.
9:00 a.m. (Scene: Same)
Battery deemed low-ampage and unsuitable for cold-weather starts. Replacement suggested. Car left with said mechanic for replacement, oil change, nervous laugh and edict: "Call me if anything more serious shows up".
9:30 a.m. (Scene: Office Chair)
Gulp extra-strength coffee and check savings account balance. Try to work. Await call.
2:09 p.m. (Scene: Same)
Mechanic to call any minute. Or will he?
3:27 p.m. (Scene: Same)
Auto shop closes at 5 p.m. Mild ulcer forming.
4:50 p.m. (Scene: Same)
5:12 p.m. (Scene: Same, Only More Sanguine)
Mechanic calls: battery, windshield wiper, oil change, with labor- $215. Ask: "Anything else?" Hear: "Well, it holds fluids well." Reply: "Yeah, so about the carriage rocking [from the ostensible 3-inch layer of rust on the undercarriage from stem to stern] ....?" Reply: "Yeah. Well. It's just an old car." Proud to be the owner of a sparkling new battery in the oldest car in Southie -- which is saying something.