Monday, September 19, 2011

It's definitely Monday

I have a '97 Suzuki. Or, most likely I should say that I *had* a '97 Suzuki. I've been having trouble with it overheating, and after two trips to the mechanic, I thought it was fixed.


As I'd promised to do, I opened the hood this morning and opened the radiator valve to inspect the water level now that the car had cooled overnight. Yes, that was what I said. The car had cooled overnight. So, when I opened the cap, I didn't expect to get sprayed all over my work clothes with water and antifreeze. I put the cap back on, dried off and took off my apron I'd had the good sense to wear over my work clothes. The sleeves were only a little wet, so I decided to keep my shirt on. I'd call the mechanic tomorrow on my day off. I'd nurse the car through another day, just as I had for two weeks.

The sky was gray and the day blustery, so I threw in my umbrella just in case. I even remembered to bring my travel mug of coffee, freshly topped off and hot. I wasn't going to let Monday get me down! I'd even added money on my Tracfone just so I could have minutes for emergencies and text messaging my daughters. Smug and self-assured, I got in, got gas, and drove off to work in plenty of time.

Guess I pissed Murphy off.

Traffic was unusually light for a Monday. Even when it began to rain, I hummed a jaunty tune and took a sip of coffee. Yep, I was going to handle Monday just fine.

Then traffic stopped. Dead stop. All three lanes of I-95 were a solid wall of taillights.

I hadn't listened to the traffic reporting two accidents and a stoplight out on all three of the major routes to my work. I checked my watch. I still had plenty of time. I took another sip of coffee. 

My car's temperature gauge slipped up a notch, then another. Uh-oh.

My heart sank with every notch that needle rose. I knew what was coming, but I was helpless to stop it. I nervously took another sip of coffee and prayed traffic would start moving.

POP! From under my hood, steam hissed out the sides of the hood.

I sighed, put on my blinkers, and pulled over to the emergency shoulder. After all, this was exactly why I paid extra for roadside assistance. I pulled the card out of my purse, dialed, and requested a wrecker. Then I called my work's attendance line and told them I doubted I'd make it in. (Dammit, there went my perfect attendance record.) Then I left a message for Dante, informing him of the trouble, just to cover my bases.

Ahead of me, another pileup snarled traffic even further. The rain came down harder, but I had my coffee and one of my daughters to talk to on the phone.

Three cops and an ambulance worked their way through the traffic and forged ahead. Oh, goodie. Accident with injuries. A big red wrecker from another company than the one I called passed by. The driver gave me a friendly wave, and I waved back. He was probably on his way to the mess up ahead, and I didn't begrudge him. He clearly wasn't my wrecker.

My bladder began to protest. I had gaily drank most of my travel mug, plus the mug I'd had before I left the house. Hmm. Older woman in "good" clothes on a rainy day, with a full bladder and a dead car. Not good. This could get ugly. It was also getting hot in my car, and I began to perspire. "It's Florida," I told myself. "Sweating is what we do." The sweat mingled with whatever the liquid was on my sleeves and began to sting my skin.

The rain let up to a spitting shower, then stopped. A white wrecker pulled up behind me with a cheerful, skinny Armenian guy on a cell phone. It seemed the big red wrecker's driver was a friend of his, and his friend had told him precisely where I was! He set about getting my car loaded on his wrecker bed very efficiently, and asked me to wait in his truck. 

I elected to stand in the grass for a few minutes to let my shirt dry in the breeze. The cool air felt marvelous to my stinging skin. I was going to be okay, after all. I'd direct the driver to drop my car off at the mechanic, and I'd walk the mile home. No big deal. I could do it. I had an umbrella, and there was a Wendy's halfway down the road if I needed a rest or the bathroom.

Did you know there were red ant and fire ant nests all over the verge of the highway? Neither did I, but I found out the hard way!

Did you know it was possible for an arthritic and overweight author to scramble up into a wrecker's cab when the first step was almost at the top of her thighs and the seat above her head? Neither did I.

Not only did the wrecker driver help me drop my car off at the mechanic, he even offered to take me home! How sweet is that? Now I'm nervously waiting for the prognosis on my car. Am I going to have to buy a new car? Worse, am I going to have to call Enterprise Rent A Car so I can go car shopping?

Stay tuned...
¸.· ´¸.·*´¨)
Lena Austin

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