All of my recent car "troubles" started about three weeks ago when I ran to downtown Norfolk to stop in the new offices of my magazine.
I was actually going that day to pick up the required pass for the building's parking garage and had to park in a metered spot right outside the building. I put enough coins in the meter to give myself just over a half hour, but, of course, there was a hold up with the pass inside, so I knew it was going to be close. I was only six minutes late and sure enough, there was a glorious $15 parking ticket waiting for me on my windshield when I returned.
Let the irony of that moment sink in... I got a $15 ticket while waiting to pick up a free parking pass.
A few nights later, I was leaving my Girlfriend's house and as I was pulling out of her driveway, I noticed that my car was kind of rumbling in ways that I'm definitely not used to. And when I changed gears to drive, it felt like the engine was about to stall out.
Alarmed, yet tired, I decided to just try and make it home (we only live a couple of miles away from each other) and deal with it the following morning; but the drive that ensued can only be described now as a Death-Defying-Broken-Down-Rollercoaster-Hell-Ride that to this day, I still have no idea how I lived through.
My car was herking and jerking so badly that I could only imagine myself in the middle of a cartoonish scene where the entire car falls apart around me and I'm just left sitting there in the middle of the road holding onto the steering wheel that is now attached to nothing.
It should be noted again that I know nothing about cars. Like I've always said, I know nothing about anything outside of sports and entertainment. I feel like I should apologize now to any future children that I ever have because while they won't know anything about politics, business, simple home or mechanical maintenance, etc., they will know invaluable information such as which television show won the 1995 Emmy award for Best Comedy Series or which team won Super Bowl XXIII.
"And the Father of the Year Award goes to…"
Fortunately, my Girlfriend's dad knows his way around a car and agreed to take a look at mine and my parents were gracious enough to let me borrow their Saturn station wagon while my car was being repaired.
Now, while I will never turn down such generosity, I must take a moment to state the painfully obvious truth that it is impossible to look cool behind the wheel of a station wagon. No matter how good you look outside, any coolness you possess decreases by at least five points once inside. So if you start off as a seven on the cool scale, you instantly become a two when you climb into a station wagon.
So yes, for me the numbers went negative.
The worst part about it was that while I was out the next day "cruising" towards work, I saw an Ex-Girlfriend out on the road. Everyone knows that the only thing that matters when running into an Ex is to have the appearance of having a better life than they do.
This is just social law.
And while I am perfectly content with my life right now, I hated that she saw me in a station wagon. You could be the CEO of a major company making six, seven figures and it wouldn't matter. When an Ex sees you in a station wagon, the only thing that they are thinking is, "Whew. Glad I got out of that one."
To add insult to serious injury, as I was on my way home that day (and by "on my way home" I literally mean "less than 30 seconds from my house") I was about to go through the last stop light before my neighborhood when I saw a car at the light on the right hand side waiting to turn onto the road I was on.
You can already see where this is going can't you?
I clearly had the green light, but I then see the car beginning to make the right on red, which would have been fine if he had just pulled into his lane – the one on the right hand side of the road (I was in the left lane).
Ah, to live in a land where things make sense.
But, no. He obviously didn't see me and started to drift into my lane and despite my best efforts to avoid him, he drifted right into me and my parents' station wagon.
So to update the old scoreboard for everyone at home, I'm sitting there in a traffic accident, in my parents' car because God only knows what's wrong with my car, and I still have to pay a $15 parking ticket for a FREE parking pass.
Yep, I was ready to blow it.
But as I marched over to his car, his door opened and I only felt disappointment as I knew my impending tirade would fall on deaf ears.
To say this guy was elderly would be a gross understatement because basically he was Father Time's father. And that's being generous.
I quickly gathered myself because the last thing I want when I'm that age is to have some jerk kid yelling at me, so while I knew I couldn't be "irate", I was still ready to be "displeased" until he shouted out the clinching, "Hold on… Let me get my cane!"
And you just can't get mad at that.
He actually turned out to be a really nice guy and was very apologetic for the incident. There was minimal damage but the arriving cop still had to issue him a citation, so as I got back into my car I felt like a bad guy even though I was technically the victim.
My Girlfriend's dad was able to fix my car the following day and it has been running fine ever since and things have seemed to quiet down for the most part the past week; except that the other day the Check Engine light came on my dashboard for no apparent reason other than to mock me.
They call all of this technology "progress"; and that's exactly what it is… progress towards a heart attack.