Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Life With Cars

I was thinking of cars and car parts I have broken over my years as a driver ...

- starter motor (I thought if I turned the screw one more time I would fix it)
- clutches (old cars, naturally occuring wear and tear ... surely)
- cam shaft x2 (clearly this wasn't my fault, the mechanic told me to look closely at the first one, as most people never got to see one AND, in my defence it was a problem that resoved itself after the engine rings cracked while I was driving one day ... the secondhand replacement engine ensured that no more camshafts were broken ...)
brakepads (I lived in Dunedin, it's a hilly wee San Francisco)
accelerator cable (it used to fall off in the Austin 1300)

I learned that you must keep water in the battery
that air filters need cleaned
spark plugs too;
that the timing needs to be adjusted sometimes
and the winter/summer switch needs to be adjusted according to seasonal variations, or if it snows and you're in the New Zealand mountains in summertime.

I learned not to put the wrong type of petrol in a nervous car,
that anti-freeze is a good idea in winter frosts
and, that even if the mechanic pats you on the head and calls your adult-self 'girlie', he's actually wrong and the fact that your radiator is losing water indicates something is wrong ... I don't think I cracked the engine head that time. Well actually, I might have but it wasn't my fault ... but I was a 30+ literature student, I did my best.

The driveshaft ... well I was lucky with this one, the mechanic realised it was going to fall off, and I only needed it to last a little longer ... poverty-stricken students need things to last, so I wasn't driving so fast when it finally fell off, which is a good thing because apparently ... they can dig into the surface of the road and flip the car. Sigh, I loved that Toyota wagon for so many kilometres and so many years ...

Most valuably perhaps, I learned not to try and hold a car exhaust system on with a wire coathanger ... because it risks falling off despite the coathanger, but also because it's very dangerous. I had taken the precaution of opening the two front windows to deal with the exhaust fumes inside the car however, I created some kind of vacuum that kept the fumes in ... I felt quite odd by the time I reached home.

And I retrospectively learned not to go off with busdrivers and buy their decrepit vehicles. I was feeling sad and carless, post-driveshaft death of my beloved Toyota and was catching the bus one day well ... the busdriver asked how I was, and I said, a bit sad, due to losing my car. He asked if I wanted to buy one, I said how much, he told me, I said I'd need to see it. He looked at his watch ... it was a city busrun, and said we had time, then took off with me on the bus.

We went down to the docks ... which I don't think I'd allow anyplace except home, and into a big dark empty warehouse ... which yes, was stupid in retrospect however, his daughter worked for the UN, how bad could he be ...

The car ... I was newly divorced, and confident about not needing men, so I decided to make this purchase alone. I took it out for a testdrive and managed to play the accelator, clutch and choke in such a way as to keep moving forward ... oddly, but forward.

I bought it ... and was roundly condemned by all men who cared about me, and rightly so but I didn't care, it was a car, I could afford it and I did it alone.

After various hair-raising incidents, Fiona and Barry could bear it no longer and I borrowed money from Dad, based on a small divorce settlement coming my way ... they found me a stunning new, incredibly safe and very grown-up car.

I only drove it a few months before leaving for Turkey and my new non-driving life in the Northern Hemisphere ... but it was a good car, the best I have ever owned and there were no problems, or nothing outstanding that hadn't been done in the past.

I miss driving.


a dutch survivor of a nz trip said...

i don't really think i miss your driving and the way you tend to slam the breaks when i don't pay attention.

woman wandering said...

Ahhhhhhhh, my famous Dutch mechanic writes ANONYMOUSLY.

Anyway, how can you complain if I was paying attention to you at the time, well ... perhaps not, but it reads nice, doesn't it. I just didn't see the crossroad in question, I was looking ahead to the next one ...

You loved my driving, I didn't see you insisting on driving.

Alison said...

Hrm... many of my cars have had painful deaths... First Toyota was run of the road by a transport truck and rolled over while doing a 360 (with me inside...thanks God for the snow). Second Toyota had a crack in the engine. First Ford was crushed by a carport falling on it (not so big a loss in retrospect) and my favorite Subaru is still cruising around Halifax... without me :(

woman wandering said...

I think you win as soon as you mention 'rolling the car' Alison. It was that conversation we had in Brussels with Shannon that made me go off down the nostalgic path of cars I have broken.