Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We All Just Laughed

Dead CarIf 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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my4kids said...

Hmm I've never heard of keeping a belt as a spare? Really those things aren't really expensive in the grand scheme of mechanical parts.....
Maddie would have thought it cool that I thought the car was going to blow up, although she might be scrambling a bit trying to get out of her carseat still.

Carina said...

If it was bad enough to take off....but what do I know. I'm not mechanic either.

My husband does almost all the work on our cars. He even changed the air ride suspension system to a standard system on the old Lincoln. Sometimes I wish he'd take the thing to the mechanic, because of course it takes all day for him to do these things, but I know that would cost a ton of money, so I'm glad we don't have too. I know nothing about cars. Nothing. While I was typing this comment my husband was giving me condescending looks and making me change the names of the car parts he changed. Men.

SabineM said...

I have a manly husband that can fix anything computer related AND is super good with his brain. BUt fixing a car, HAAAAAAA.

I am with you!
Great story!

Marie N. said...

We can change windshield washer fluid and add and check oil. That's about it under the hood.

The owner of my local garage knows how to pronounce my last name. (That's saying something, as the usual response is a pause followed by "I'm not even going to try to say your last name"). He says it properly with no hesitation.

We're just thankful their service is great.

Anonymous said...

I love your van, its offers alot of character, history, and great stories. I'm proud to say that I've ridden in the Mitchell van!

An Ordinary Mom said...

I tell you, sometimes laughter is the best medicine. It can make a stressful situation more manageable.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

I'm 31 and never learned how to change my oil until i was 22... I have graduated to other things like head gaskets and other greasy jobs, but that is only because of an empty wallet.

Casdok said...

I will look out for you!

Lisa said...

Hooray for under $100!

Lisa said...

That was a great story.

He gets brownie points for trying, right? heehee

Mama's Moon said...

Oh geez, use the 'busted' one as a spare. That's classic!

*~*Cece*~* said...

So glad I'm the girl & don't have to work on cars! hehehehe

Anonymous said...

Love the "manly" comment. It can be so funny when things come out werong.

jeanie said...

Excellent story! I am sure if he was a car guy and you were miles from help and out of mobile range, the spare would be of assistance. But then again, you would probably just be able to whip off your pantyhose and fix it without the spare...

JAM said...

I'll be 45 next month, and I've just gotten to the point where I can look like I understand what the mechanic is telling me instead of the the old deer-in-the-headlights look I had previously perfected.

I used to change oil and a few other things, but with 300 places within 2 miles that can change the oil and get rid of the old stuff under $30, I don't even do that any more.