If you should happen to be driving down the highway and should hear a very loud popping sound coming from the right side of your engine followed by the power steering becoming non-existent, the battery light clicking on and the engine overheating I can tell you that you've probably got a problem. Just hypothetically speaking of course.
When it happened to me I limped off the exit ramp and coasted to the nearest parking lot at Lowe's where I called Andrew for an emergency pickup. That's when Lillian started to cry because she overheard me say: "The car was overheating and I thought it was going to blow up" which, from a five year-old perspective is a rather dire statement. She was sure we were all going to die, being blown up into flaming little pulpy pieces, and didn't want to be in the car another minute. She was tearfully scrambling to get out over the top of me while I was struggling with the car and with the cell phone while also trying to keep David from running off to ride the lawn mowers on display on the sidewalk.
Once home I called the woman I carpool with to explain why I wouldn't be available for driving the next day. Later that night her husband called Andrew and told him that it was probably just a busted (always say "busted" when you're talking shop--makes you sound authentic) fan belt and offered to "help Andrew fix it."
When I heard this I said without thinking too clearly (it was, after all, past eight o'clock--my brain clocks out at seven), "Wow! How nice of him! That's great that you're going to go do something so manly. [pause] That's really a first, isn't it?"
Now I meant that it was a first for him to fix the car. It didn't come out so well though and I ended up doing a lot of explaining and apologizing but in my defense I'm married to a man who can fix any problem I might have with my computer, one who is sweet and thoughtful and great but a mechanic he ain't. Hey, we all have our talents, right? He knows where the gas goes, know that certain lights mean bad things, knows how to write a check when things are fixed but wouldn't know the different between a catalytic converter and a cattle prod.
Well that night he was a regular grease monkey, messing around under the hood until they determined that 1) the fan belt was fine, though not in the spot that it was supposed to be because 2) the "tensioner" (if that IS a word) had broke.
Fair enough. We had it towed to the mechanic the next morning. On the phone he recognized my voice (sigh) and you know it's time to get a new car when the mechanic chuckles and says, "Oh, Hi Mrs. Mitton." I've probably put all of his children through college.
I put on my most authoritative voice and told him, "When the car comes in you'll see we threw the old fan belt and busted tensioner in the front seat." Just to let him know we were all over the situation and everything. All over it like grease on a wrench (that's more shop talk).
He sounded unimpressed. But come five o'clock the car was fixed and ready for pick up and I was cheering because if I can get out of there for under $100 you know I'm cheering.
The next day when all of us were in the car, ready to head off to school I glanced down and saw this odd thing on the floor mat. It was a rubber belt all wound up in a cardboard sleeve.
"What's this?" I said to Andrew.
"Oh, that's the old fan belt. The guy said that he'd give it to us as a spare."
I looked at Andrew oddly. "A spare?"
"Yea, in case the new one ever breaks."
I still looked at him quizzically.
"You know--a spare? He said I'd be able to put this old one back on in an emergency."
A pause. We looked at each other. I looked at the rubber belt in my hand. Then we all busted up laughing--even the kids--as I tossed it to Andrew and he threw it in the trash can and got into his car for work because you know the thought was just too ridiculous for words. You can't buy comedy like that, not for $100.
Congratulations to Ruth from McHenry, Illinois who has won this week's Saturday Giveaway from Buttertart.
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