Why I didn’t write Friday, even though I have committed to work on my novel rewrite every day until it's done.
I had a plan. I was going to write for at least two hours. Even though I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, I was still invigorated from the storytelling and music at the Arlo Guthrie concert Thursday night.
The body shop called in the morning to tell me that they’d finished the $7,000 worth of repairs and I could pick up my Toyota Echo. The one that was rear-ended on the freeway almost a month ago now (October 6th), with me in it. Happiness! Joy! Better gas mileage than the rental Honda! I love this car and I am glad glad glad that it was not totaled.
The rental car people drove me to the body shop after I dropped off the Honda. I transferred my books and stuff into it happily and took off under instructions to drive it over the weekend and see how it handled. There should be no problems, but the work is guaranteed as long as I own the car. Great.
I take off and I hear a weird repetitive noise coming from the right front of the car. I pull into a gas station a few miles from the body shop, get out and check out the area, and find a big piece of tape on the tire that was flopping against the wheel well. Whew. I notice that there’s something strange about the remote door locks. The car beeps every time I push a button. Oh, no. I do not like that. I go back to the body shop, but that’s something the dealer needs to deal with. Okiedokie.
I get onto the 5 freeway. It’s about 4pm and rush hour has already started. I’m buzzing along talking to my sister on my cell phone (with an ear bud, both hands on the wheel, thank you very much) when I realize I have NO POWER. I coast to a stop in the middle of five northbound lanes. Everyone else is going 40 miles an hour.
I probably would have experienced déjà vu from the accident, except that this time the SUV behind me is paying attention and I don’t get rear-ended. I do however, feel a huge rush of fear as I find that not even my flashers are working. The guy who was behind me has eased into another lane, and now I’m vulnerable to anyone who’s less attentive, and I have no way to warn them.
The 911 line has rung at least 8 times with no answer when suddenly power comes back! Momentary YAY! I get off the freeway in what I think is probably Pacoima. One of about 5 exits along my drive that I have never used before. Of course. I start heading south and west, judging by the sun. I call my husband, D. I call the body shop. They tell me to take it to a Toyota dealership that’s closer than they are at this point. It probably has something to do with the door lock system. Grr. Okay.
I get to the dealership in Van Nuys around 4:30, I guess. The car lost power once on the way there, on a side street. RG, the service department guy I talk to has to tell me that he can’t do anything, not even diagnostics, until Monday. I am 35 miles from home and 10 miles from work. I just turned in my rental car. I would like to let out one, maybe two little sobs, but I don’t. He takes a look under the hood to see if any wires were pinched when the body shop changed out the headlight brackets, and sees that there is a part missing from my car. The air flower controller just isn’t there. And the hose that goes into it is just dangling.
When I go to move the car a few feet into the entrance of the service area, it dies again. Good car. It’s trying to cooperate and not just act like it’s okay when the mechanic is there. It’s willing to have symptoms in front of other people. I love this car. I have not had a lick of trouble with it in two years and 49,000 miles.
I call D to come pick me up. Poor, sweet, D, who just worked his usual 48 hour week, stayed up as late as I did the night before, and was probably enjoying the one workday each week he gets home before dark. He doesn’t even sound grumpy about it.
I go to the waiting room and call the insurance company. No one answers, but I leave a message. I call the body shop and tell them they sent me off onto the freeway in rush hour traffic with a part missing from my car and I could have been damaged very badly. I keep my voice low because I’m in a public place and… I just am not much of a yeller.
When I hang up, the lady sitting kitty-corner from me asks, curiously but not unkindly, “What happened?” I open my mouth, and then I close it and start to cry.
Just then, RG, the service department guy, comes in and says, “We figured it out! You can take your car!” He sees my face. Asks if I’m okay, did I get any coffee, do I want some, etc. Very, very nice. He has me sit in his office while he brings the car and a mechanic back to the front. I can tell he’s excited that they figured it out.
Turns out that aside from the part that’s missing from my car, when the body shop re-attached the ground wire from the engine to the headlight bracket area, they didn’t notice that they’d painted over the contact. Hence the ground-wire overheated and the car turned itself off rather than oh, say, burst into flame.
We’ve established that I love this car. Now we have established that this car also loves me. It wants to keep me alive, even if it has to turn itself off. (Kind of like Hal in 2003: A Space Odyssey, right? Although that was after lots of terror and stuff, so it’s maybe not a perfect analogy.)
So they filed the paint off the contact, and the air flow controller needs to be taken care of, but I can drive home. D is already more than half way there and I am really in the mood to be followed home at this point, no matter what all my new mechanically inclined friends say, so we decide to meet at a restaurant to wait out rush hour and have dinner.
I thank RG and tell his manager how terrific he was. They aren’t even charging me the $85.00 they said they’d have to charge for diagnostics if I didn’t have the work done there. I am going to write to RG and to his bosses and tell them how great he was, because that’s one of the ways the world stays a great place to live in.
D and I had dinner. He drove the Echo and I followed in the Tahoe. I opened a bottle of champagne when we got home around 7:30. We’d left the house around 5:15 that morning.So that’s why, in spite of my fierce desire to honor my commitment to write every day until my novel rewrite is complete, I didn’t last night.