Every time I work up a schedule--even a loose one that's more like a "routine"--something goes wrong. Usually it's just a little something wrong, just wrong enough to be inconvenient and to prevent me from actually getting in the habit of keeping the schedule, like a stomach bug . . . or unexpected company . . . or three really good movies coming in the mail at the same time from Blockbuster. It's not usually something really horrible . . . until tonight. Today we started a new "routine." I can't even call it a schedule now, or my kids will groan. So we started a routine. We did pretty well at it . . . well, we were only about two and a half hours behind all day. But we had time to rest and read, and even made it to the shelter to see our new baby. We got most of our school done, and the house is in pretty decent order. So I felt good. Then tonight on the way to Scouts, it happened.
Pulling out of the driveway, the car was a little sluggish--not much acceleration. I've noticed it briefly the last couple times I drove, but it cleared up pretty quickly, so tonight I headed on to Scouts sure that I wasn't just going crazy, and making a mental note to push a visit to the mechanic up to the top of tomorrow's list. As I pulled out on the busy road intersecting our subdivision, I quickly realized that I should have made that note today. After 50 yards or so, I also realized we weren't going to make it to Scouts, and I pulled over to the side of the road.
I don't like car problems. Not that anyone does, but since I don't have a husband to call for help, it always makes me feel more overwhelmed to have to be the one to make the decisions about something I know so little about. I called several of the friends I usually call on to bail me out of trouble, but didnt' get anyone at home. Finally I called my best friend (by this time I was handling it all like a woman . . . yep. Crying.), who called a friend of her's close by to come help me. As I waited, an older gentleman stopped and "offered his assistance." (So glad there are still gentlemen in the world to offer assistance to dames in distress!) He began looking at the engine, and about the time he asked if I had gas in the car, another guy rode up on a bike.
I though about the question . . . um? Gas? I knew it needed to be filled soon, but I didn't think I was out. Then again, it had seemed that I'd been running on the same eighth of a tank for a while . . . . So these poor men went to get me some gas. I was left feeling very . . . blonde.
Finally there was definitely gas in the car, but still it would not start. (Relief! It wasn't about me forgetting the gas! Of course then it came to mind that the low-gas warning light never came on.) After discussing other possibilities, the guy from the bike finally decided it must be the fuel filter. So he pulled some big fat hose off something in the front of the engine (hey! Be glad I know he was working on the engine, and I'm not using words like do-hickey and thing-a-ma-jig.) Then he started pouring a little gas directly into the opening. As my brain was asking, "Isn't it a bad thing to pour gas onto a car engine?", my friend cranked the engine, and flames errupted.
It seemed like my engine was on fire forever, but I think the guy under the hood actually put it out pretty quickly, but I was seeing:
*my crazy kids trying to get a good look at the fire under my hood (as I waited for the car to explode!!!)
*the dropped bottle of gas on the curb on fire (and about to explode)
*me trying to explain to my insurance company how a $10 fuel filter caused a major explosion in my car
*my friend still sitting in my car (unaware of the engine on fire because of the hood being in his way!)
*the sane man moving back out of the way
*me standing there like a dork wondering why I didn't have a fire extinguisher in the back of the car
. . . . All of this was coming into my brain at once and I pretty much just didn't know what to do. At last the goofy guy with the water bottle of gas put out my car, and said, "Yep, it's the fuel filter." Ummm . . . do most mechanics set the car on fire to determine that?
Now I had come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to just have the car towed, so I got on the phone with my wonderful insurance company to arrange for a tow truck. After being told three times that, yes, I still was on hold and there would be someone with me eventually (Hey, thanks. Good thing I'm not in real trouble!), I got someone on the phone.
Not long after that, one of our counties finest pulled up to "offer assistance." By this time the guy who tried to make my car explode had left (not that I blame him!), and I was kind of wondering where the deputy was when my car was on fire. (I'm thinking now that somebody called when they saw the flames leaping out of my car!!!) After the men with me explained the whole thing to him, he also agreed that it was probably the fuel filter, and suggested that we bang on the little gadget a few times to loosen some of the sediment. He said we wouldn't be able to drive far, but might get it to a nearby mechanic--and my mechanic was just around the corner, so it sounded great to me. So I asked the lady at the insurance company to hang on while I waited to see if I would indeed need the tow truck, and my friend banged on the filter, but when we tried to start the car, nothing.
As I got back to giving the insurance lady information so she could send help, the deputy suggested the men push the car up and off the road. My friend thought he'd give the key one more try, and wouldn't you know it? The car started. Once again I told the insurance lady we wouldn't be needing the tow truck, made hasty arrangements to get to the mechanic's shop, and loaded the kids in the car, and we took it where it needed to be dropped off.
So for now I know I need a new fuel filter, my car can still run (I think!), there are still gentlemen in the world, and you don't let somebody pour gas on your engine. I also know that I'm without a car, I desperately need groceries, and that schedules really don't work. So tomorrow we're going to fly by the seat of our pants again. At least that way we will expect not to know what the day will bring! And expecting surprised will probably be a good thing when I talk to the machanic.