Or, if you’re British (or just really like British alternatives for some words a lot)- ‘Under the Bonnet’
I’ve had a bit of car trouble the last couple of days. I say a bit, because really it wasn’t like the transmission died or anything went up in a ball of flames or anything like that…but it didn’t seem like a bit at the time. It’s a bad time for things to go wrong, too- the week before finals week for an art major is, 9 times out of 10, more stressful than the actual week of finals.
So, it’s a long-known fact that there is some sort of issue with this particular car that causes the alarm to go off, randomly and without warning, and often for extended periods of time. As a result, my dad disconnected the sound a while ago, but the silly thing still flashes when it’s upset. It hadn’t done it in a year or two, but a few nights ago, I was out to dinner with some friends, and could see the car out the window. All through dinner, it was having intermittent panic attacks, which I stopped, every couple of minutes, with the remote locking thingy. (is there a name for that thing? Dunno.)
I was worried the battery would die, but it seemed fine when I got it back home. I tried to start it again the next morning, and it was also fine then, but Dad told me to disconnect the battery just in case. I didn’t have the tools, so I figured I’d go after class- but when I got out of class, it was dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead as a doornail, dead as a teenager past curfew, dead as…well…dead.
Rats! So, I got a ride to walmart, got myself a wrench and a battery charger, disconnected the battery, and….couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t come out of the car, still. It seemed to be locked in, somehow. Eventually, Dad informed me that there’s a locky thing that keeps the battery bolted to the car (obviously, because otherwise it would shift if the person driving happened to be a maniacal speed racer or something…)- and I tried to undo that, but didn’t have the right tools.
Thus, another ride- this time to Home Depot (thanks, Becky!) where we traded angsty stories about our days (My chemistry test hadn’t gone well, and it was day 3 of this-battery-won’t-come-out-of-this-stupid-car, which basically turned into why do we even need cars, cars are ridiculous why are they so hard to fix why don’t they come with manuals that are actually useful for things besides where the gas tank is located and what to do if the tire pressure light comes on, why is this not something the world has figured out yet!)
Let’s just take a minute here and talk about chemistry, though. The final test was on Friday (the actual final is coming up on Thursday)- and we were all nervous about it, and I was talking back and fourth with Bob about how nobody could figure out chapter 19, and good grief we’re not going to do well, and a bit about my car issues too, because his girlfriend (who is one of my vis comm buddies) is also having car issues. It’s that time of year I guess. When we got into the classroom, we were all deafened by the sound of a blown speaker, turned up to full volume, 5 feet above our heads. It was like a helicopter was coming down right above us, and it was blaring some kind of awful feedback loop featuring the entire percussion ensemble of the Trans Siberian Orchestra. It was positively awful, and our professor just handed out the tests and said something that nobody could hear over the sounds of the devil’s orchestra…and started pressing buttons on the computer. Eventually, he went and got the key to open the podium (all the controls are in there, I guess)- and as soon as he opened the door, it stopped. Nobody knows why. Anyways, then I had a headache for the rest of the day. There- a mini rant inside of a rant! It’s like a two-fer!
So- I got the battery outside of the car with my brand new set of socket wrenches, and brought its heavy self back into the apartment to charge it- and, yay! it was charged this morning! So, Emma helped me put it back into the car, I tightened the offending nut that took 2 days to loosen, connected the terminals, put everything back in its proper place, and…..
It didn’t start.
If I hadn’t had such a relaxing day full of nutella and netflix and tea yesterday, I would have cried right then and there. But I didn’t, because I am a grownup (or at least I can mostly pretend to be one), and I can handle life being just a bit ridiculous.
After checking to be sure the terminals were tightened correctly, (they were), and that removing the fuse for the alarm hadn’t caused something weird (it hadn’t)- Dad said I should call a repair shop and have it towed.
Do you know how many car repair shops there are in this tiny town?! 32, that’s how many! How’s a girl to choose? -I called Lauren, who was unfortunately sleeping (sorry! I’m sorry! it was noon, I didn’t mean to!), who called her stepdad, who thought that no places would be open on a Saturday, but that he would ask around on Monday. I decided to call some places in the meantime, and settled on ‘Kirksville Autoworks’- because they’re open today. The nice lady there said they would send a guy to tow it, and he was there in about 5 minutes (which, holy cow! Talk about speedy service!)- He had a theory, though…
He thought the engine was flooded, and had me turn the key to start it, and hold it there while flooring the gas pedal. And guess what, lords and ladies! It worked!! Then, it was as simple as making sure it ran for at least 15 minutes, and now, the silly thing is right as rain! He didn’t even charge me, either! I also put a new battery in the unlocky-thing (from earlier. you know.), at his suggestion, because he said sometimes a dying battery can trigger the alarm. Weird, but that guy seemed to know what he was talking about, so I’d say we trust him.
So- that whole ordeal behind us, what did we learn?
I like cars- I think they’re cool and I like looking at them, and I appreciate the ones that run well, and can usually tell when one’s running strangely. That said, I don’t really wholly understand how they work, the way I understand sewing machines, for example. This car has had so many problems, but I sort of really like it for that, because every time it breaks, I get to learn (at least a bit) of how to fix it. If I were at home, Dad would have fixed it, and I would have had none of this experience of dealing with it, or anything like that, and I’m sort of glad that I got to go through it all, because I learned how important it is to have the right tools, and I also, a bit more personally, learned what muscle groups I should work on strengthening, so that I’m a little more capable of loosening rusty/tight nuts if that ever becomes an issue in the future. Since it’s been an issue in the past, I think it probably will. I’ve also learned how the battery comes out, which can only be useful knowledge.
Finally, although I wouldn’t necessarily count this as new knowledge, the notion that it is okay to ask for help if you need it has been planted more strongly in my brain. I couldn’t have gotten through this without Becky, who gave me a ride to get my socket wrenches, or Aric, who let me take his car to wal mart to get the charger when he was visiting, or Carly’s boyfriend Adam, who helped me loosen the nut that was holding the battery, or Lauren’s stepdad David, who gave me some information on mechanics here in Kirksville, or Lauren, who I’m still sorry I awoke with my questions, or Emma, for carrying the battery when my shoulder wasn’t feeling up to the job, and also for asking her dad how he disabled the alarm in his car, which is the same make and model as this one….And especially Caleb, who works at Kirksville Autoworks, and who didn’t charge me anything for basically fixing the monster that is that car. I’m going to be making Caleb some cookies. So…that’s happening. Probably tomorrow.
I was going to write this post about how my hair came to be pink, and the results of the social experiment that resulted from it…but this seemed like an important thing to say, so I’ll save that for next time.
So- until then- have fun studying for finals! And if you’re not studying for finals, hug someone who is!