Monday, April 19, 2010

Slave to the Traffic Light

It was a frustrating weekend Chez Mel. It all started on Thursday. I pulled out of my driveway and suddenly, my steering was quite . . . I believe the technical term is wonky. Kind of loose yet stubborn and making an odd "thunk thunk" noise along with a horrific scraping sound. Stupidly, I drove it the 20 miles to work and then nervously drove it the 20 miles back home on Thursday night. Stupid. Friday, I wisely bummed a ride to work. My sis was going to hobble the car to her job (which is just a mile or two away) so that she could avoid the bus and so that she could hear/feel/see what was going on. About 2:30, I got a text from her informing me that the car was undriveable. Panic set in. That's our only car and neither my sis nor I are particularly rolling in money. We're one of those households that basically moves from paycheck to paycheck. Neither of us have credit cards or anything in the way of savings. We live comfortably, but we're not well equipped to handle a sudden emergency like a car suddenly becoming undriveable.

I chatted Friday afternoon with a mechanic who diagnosed our problem, quoted me a price that we could actually live with (it'll make for a couple "tight" weeks financially, but still within our budget -- so we go a couple weeks without ordering out for pizza 2 or 3 times or driving through Taco Bell because we're too lazy to cook and too impatient to wait for the pizza), and said he would be there Saturday morning.

Saturday morning came ... and so did a call from the mechanic. They were swamped and would not be able to come deal with my car until Monday. Not a huge problem until I realized that meant we would have to go all weekend with no vehicle. We live in a nice, quiet neighborhood that's tucked away . . . and pretty far from anything resembling, say, a grocery store. And we were out of cat food. Walking to any grocery store would have taken likely hours. We have public transportation where we live, but the way the routes are set up, it would have again been hours to get to a store. We lucked out and had a friend offer to give me a lift to the store and another friend offer to give me a ride to the meeting we had Sunday afternoon. The only real casualty of the weekend, other than my "money pocket" (that little pocket of money that is my "discretionary" fund on each paycheck), was our plan to go see Sweeney Todd at a local college. It's one thing to bum a ride to Wal-Mart. It's entirely another thing to bum a ride 20 miles away. Plus, the tickets were going to be covered by the money pocket, which now had other, more pressing requests pending.

The weekend really proved to me how incredibly dependent we are on our vehicles. A slight panic set in as I thought about what I would do without my car. Fortunately, my car is relatively young and probably has quite a few years left in it once this issue is taken care of. (I still have two years left before it is paid off, so it better have a few years left in it!) I know that once my car is fixed, I will be nicer to it, kinder to it, speak more loving words to it, because now I know that my life would totally suck without it.

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