Friday, July 06, 2007

Things Can Always Get Worse

When I was a kid, I had Bill Cosby albums, with him doing stand up comedy. I remember one bit he did when he said not to ever say, "things couldn't get any worse." They can and if you say they can't, they probably will. Last Sunday evening, I was driving home from London when my car began losing power. Looking in my rear view mirror, I could see smoke trailing from my car. Not a good sign. At that point on the motorway, the hard shoulder was blocked off by cones, due to some ongoing construction, or some such nonsense. I managed to keep the car going, but the speed I was able to get out of it was getting slower and slower. Finally, the cones ended and I was able to pull over. As I eased up off the throttle, the engine stalled.
I coasted to a stop on the hard shoulder, clear of all lanes of traffic. My car has only ever conked out once before. That time, it turned out to be a minor problem with an induction hose. This time, I feared things had gotten worse. Smoke was coming from underneath the engine. I tried to restart the car a couple of times, but it wasn't sounding like it was turning over normally. After calling the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), I sat on the side of the road, reading a book, while waiting for their rescue vehicle to arrive. That's the thing about Britain, there's a lot of royal this and royal that. Comes with having a queen, I suppose. One really frustrating aspect was that I was only a mile from my exit for home. So close and yet, so far.
The RAC man arrived in less than an hour. I wonder if there are any RAC women? I have never had a woman turn up on a recovery. That would be different. Some hot blond, brunette, or redhead shows up in an RAC boiler suit, unzipped enough to show a little cleavage. Anyway, this time it was a man, as usual. After inspecting the car and crawling underneath, he informed me that the pool of liquid forming under the vehicle was oil. Not good. The car was disgorging it's lifeblood on the side of the motorway. The engine was blown. He started making preparations to tow it to my house, while I let the news sink in.
In some ways, I wasn't surprised. My car had been leaking oil and coolant for two years, and I'd put next to no money into it, by way of maintenance, for at least that long. The neglect was based on one simple fact. I didn't have the money to pay for servicing. My car, a BMW 730i, is 12 years old and has 162,000 miles on it. I was impressed every day when it would start and get me to work. I thought I had blown the engine the previous time it broke down, nine months ago, but I just had a busted hose that time. It soldiered on, like a trooper. It was the best car I ever owned and means a lot to me. I even lived in it for two months, back in the autumn of 2002, when my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, locked me out of our marital home. I spent Thanksgiving in the car, in November, 2002. Now, it's gone, or will be when the scrap people pick it up. It's kind of like the destruction of the Enterprise, in "Star Trek III: the Search for Spock." The trail of smoke from my car reminiscent of the trail of smoke from the Enterprise hull, as it spiraled into the Genesis planet. In the film, the Enterprise was blown up deliberately, in order to evade capture by the Klingons. I didn't blow up my car deliberately. So maybe they aren't similar. Perhaps my car's death is more like the destruction of the Enterprise D in the film, "Star Trek: Generations." There, the Enterprise D suffers a catastrophic warp core breech and the saucer section crashes into a planet.
On Earth, just as in "Star Trek," life goes on. I have been adjusting fairly well to life without a car, rediscovering buses. I am torn between buying a cheap car and a cheap motorcycle. I don't have much money, but thanks to a generous birthday gift from someone close to me, I am better off than I otherwise would be. It will be at least two years before I will be in a financial position to buy a car as nice as the one I had. In the meantime, I will have to make do on the cheap. The touching tag line at the end of "Star Trek: the Motion Picture," seems appropriate. "The Human adventure is just beginning."

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home