Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Losing an auto feels like a limb loss

A part of me went through Monday feeling like I had lost a limb.

As in the automobile I was relying upon to get myself from place to place conked out, and may well be beyond repair.

My current incarnation of an auto in the hours before it likely gets hauled for scrap. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda
UNLESS I’D BECOME foolish enough to throw several thousand dollars that I don’t have into rebuilding a 15-year-old auto that already has the appearance of a pile of junk. For the time being, I’m stranded!

For the record, I had wound up with a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am that once belonged to my brother – for whom we had a memorial service on Sunday to mark his passing.

Perhaps the vehicle has a mind of its own and now that its primary driver is gone, so is the essence of the car.

Literally, the car’s last trip was to enable me to attend my brother’s tribute on Sunday, then visit my father where I spent the night.

WHEN ON MONDAY I tried to start the car up for a day’s worth of assorted activities, there was nothing. The thing was completely dead. As in it would not start.

My initial reaction was to think that the car was merely suffering from the type of glitches that get caused by wintry weather. Even though this weekend’s winter weather was weak.

But an attempt at a jump start didn’t do a thing to start the car up. My father offering me a trip to a Pep Boys shop nearby to buy a new battery also was unsuccessful.

Putting in the new battery produced even less reaction from the motor than did my initial jump start attempt. Although the people at Pep Boys did confirm that the old battery truly was dead and in need of replacement.

WHICH MADE THE Pep Boys people more than eager to take $153 from my wallet as they sold me a new battery.

But while the old dead battery generated a few clicks (but no action) of sound, the new live battery wound up being totally useless.

Fortunately for me, Pep Boys took back the new battery and refunded my money – although not before putting me through a series of questions meant to imply it is my own incompetence and nothing wrong with the battery that was causing me to have a dead car.

As I write this, I’m facing the prospect that this old car (which I already knew was leaking engine coolant and couldn’t retain steering fluid – even though two different mechanics claim there’s no leak) is gone.

AND THAT I’M finally going to have to give in to something I have tried to avoid for years – both when I was driving a used Saturn SL2 that now rests in parts in a junk yard somewhere and in occasionally using my brother’s old auto.

A car payment!

That monthly memo that would eat even further into the scrawny living I earn these days as a freelance writer – which is a fact that annoys the car dealers who’d love to sell me a new vehicle because it means I don’t have the absolutely reliable income they’d love to see from my credit.

Telling someone that my employer is sometimes late in processing the invoice that requests my payment, and that my income fluctuates from week to week depending on how much copy I can generate for someone else, doesn’t build up much good will.

OF COURSE, THE ultimate insult to injury may be the fact that when the car didn’t start, I had to push it out into the street so as to allow another vehicle parked in the same driveway to get out. I can’t screw up everybody’s day just because my own on Monday was chaotic.

Yet it seems that I pointed the vehicle in the wrong direction on a residential street. Meaning that when I came back from the Pep Boys store with the new battery, a friendly neighborhood police officer had issued me a citation – and a $35 fine, if I pay it within 10 days without a fight!

This definitely won’t be a moment I mention come Thursday when I’m asked what I’m thankful for.


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