Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adventures with Mavis

"Only weird people don't have car loans." ~ Dave Ramsey.

Um, Dave? I'm okay with being weird, really, but you forgot to add on this little qualifier: "...however, you pay the bank or you pay the parts store."

Mavis is, indeed, twenty-five years old, and no matter how sugar-coated you want to make that by stating that she has been garaged her whole life, driven by one older gentleman, and accrued less than 100K miles, it doesn't change that fact.

Everything's.... sticky. Or needs tuning, greasing, flushing, or filling.

Okay, maybe it's just the gas tank that needs filling. CONSTANTLY.


So, yeah. The first time I drove Mavis was Christmas morning. Colby went early to prep for his class and the kids and I followed a little later.

"It has some play in the steering, but we'll straighten that out in a few days.", he said.

Some PLAY in the steering?!?! I was driving a BOAT! On a snowy road, man!! I backed out of the driveway, put it in drive and headed toward the bridges.

"Oh!", I exclaimed as I turned the wheel a full half-rotation before anything happened.

"Oh DEAR!!" I burst out as the overcorrection for said half-rotation nearly put me in the field.

And so went my first couple of times driving the old beast. Once upon a time I was a good driver. No really, I was! And then I had kids and began driving like a cautious elderly granny. I scootched the seat forward as far as it would go, hunched over the steering wheel and clutched it tightly as I drove 10 under the speed limit.

"Whippersnappers!", I'd screech at the people passing me. I'd have pointed my finger at them accusingly, too, but that would mean letting go of the wheel with one hand, now wouldn't it?

I stayed home as much as I could, and hallelujah, it was Christmas break so I didn't have to haul kids to school and back twice a day 'cause at the speed I was driving it was taking 40 minutes instead of 20 each way.

Of course, acquiring a new vehicle the week of Christmas presented its own problems. Like managing to get all the paperwork shuffled and in the hands of the lovely people at the Secretary of State on a day they were actually open. Which would NOT be Christmas Eve. Or the Day Before Christmas Eve. Or the day before that, a day they are usually open late, but decided to close early since it was two and a half days before Christmas, you see.

Then there was the time we left the keys to the new vehicle in the in-laws car and didn't realize it until it was time to pick up the kids from school. As in, they're AT school, I'm at HOME, and there are NO KEYS to go start the car and drive 20 min. to get them. By that time the in-laws (and the keys) had been on the road for more than 3 hours....

Well, thank goodness for family that live nearby and can help out in a pinch!

That was Tuesday.

We stayed home on Wednesday.

Thursday started without a hitch, the car started fine, drove the kids to school without problems, though the snow was starting to come down pretty hard. I watched out the big window at home as the snow fell hard for the next 6 hours.

I'd better get an extra early start, I said to myself as I packed up the two little ones. We set out 40 minutes before the end of the school day. I took it easy until we got into town, but they had a foot of new snow and no one wants to be the idiot who causes the wreck in traffic, so I pulled into a parking lot and pulled the lever on the floorboard into 4WD.

I was kind of nervous to be trying out the 4WD since there was that one time we were driving and it made all sorts of awful grinding/crunching/knocking sounds and Colby mentioned he thought the hub was sticking on the passenger side. I'd been avoiding the lever on the floor all week thanks to that incident.

But with all that snow and craziness on Thursday I decided it was time to give it a go.

I made it all of two miles.

And then the grinding/crunching/knocking sound hit like a force to be reckoned with and brought with it a shake in the steering wheel that had me completely freaked out.

"There's something WRONG with the car!!!" I yelled into the phone. I had the phone on speaker and sitting in my lap 'cause I needed BOTH hands to do anything with that car.


"SERIOUSLY! Honey, there's something WRONG!" I whined.

"Well, I kind of need you to DESCRIBE it to me if you want me to help you sort it out.", he replied.

"I.... I don't KNOW what it is, there's something grinding or something or banging-kind-of-like and I can't hardly do ANYTHING with it!".

"Where are you?"

"I'm... I'm on THE ROAD!" I exclaimed as I tried desperately to get the car turned into the parking lot of the local country store.

~silence~ (which, I'm sure was the result of him biting his tongue back from yelling, DUH!!!)

"I think the hub must be sticking again; I just put it in four-wheel drive a few minutes ago.", I said as I got out in the heavy snowfall to inspect the front passenger wheel.

Well, it looked fine, so I kicked it for good measure and climbed back in.

"What am I going to do? I need to get the kids from school and I'm already late!!!", I clutched the phone with one hand and cranked the wheel with the other as I tried to turn around in the unplowed parking lot.

It wasn't working. My three-point turn became a seven-point turn and I still wasn't pointing straight out of the driveway.

"You need to back it up about 20 feet or so to get it to disengage the 4WD from the one side and then you'll be completely out of it. Then you can keep going and I'll take a look at it tonight."

About that time I realized I was sitting directly in the way of a big truck pulling a trailer trying to get past me.

"There's NO WAY I can back this thing UP 20 feet in this parking lot!!" I cried, "I'm IN the WAY of someone and I can't get it to do ANYthing and I just need to GO and get the kids NOW!!!" My poor husband could tell I was on the verge of tears and needed to be talked down off my shelf again, so he told me calmly to just continue on down the road, take it easy, and that I couldn't break anything he couldn't fix.

So I pulled back out onto the road and the poor thing thumped along as best it could. It was slow going, but all I cared about right then was that there was some sort of forward progression. I could hardly get any traction at all going up the long hill, but I mashed my foot to the floor and kept going.

Of course, that foot mashed to the floor thing backfired as soon as we reached the top and nearly spun around. Somehow we managed to keep the back end behind the front end, and a little while later made it to the school. I pulled into the school yard and shoved the shifter up into park.

I thought as I jumped out in the driving snow and ran up the steps. One of the teachers stood close by and was reassuring the kids that their mom would, indeed, be there soon.

Even though I'd left home early I still arrived 20 minutes late.

The kids ran to the car and jumped in, and while I was helping Emmy up into the back seat I noticed.... something.... a little askew:

Okay, maybe a LOT askew. On the REAR passenger tire. Guess I should have peeked a little at the rear tire instead of just taking a futile kick at the front.

Not my finest hour of automobile ownership there.

I called Colby, Colby called his cousin, and we sat in the cold car and waited. It wouldn't have been a cold car except that I was dangerously close to empty by then and the last thing I needed was to run out of gas on top of all this so I shut it off.

Mavis doesn't call me a "Ding-Dong". Apparently that's not always a good thing.

"Is everything all right?" I heard a voice ask and turned to see the kids' teacher huddled under her coat next to the car. Next thing I knew all the kids were warmly ensconced in the schoolhouse and I stood sipping hot tea at the window, watching Colby's cousin fix my tire. All said, it took an hour and an uncle to come with an air compressor to fill the tire enough to get us home. The kids played happily and the baby sat contentedly in her seat through the whole thing. I'd never been more thankful for a hot cup of tea in my life.

Again, I am so grateful for family that helps out in a pinch, and thankful for the great teachers at the kids' school that stayed late, made me tea, and helped with the kids so tremendously.

But most of all, I am thankful for a husband that can fix anything. Since we bought Mavis he has given up several of his free days to work on her. If he didn't have the tools and ability to fix the old car, we'd have no choice but to have a newer car and most likely a car loan. Without his dedication to keeping wood ready for the fire, fix things like the car, the washing machine, and the well, we would have a much harder time making due on one income. I am so blessed to be able to stay at home with my kids!

But sometimes the stay-at-home-Momma road is a little more adventurous than I bargained for!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's edition of Adventures with Mavis, where I'll regale you with stories of the brakes going out and how I scarred the guys at the tire store for life.


Nabila Grace said...

I love stories about Mavis...but I always think Mavis is a cow at first thought LOL :oP

Debbie said...

Welcome to suburban ownership, Mavis sounds like she could be Betsy's long lost twin. I know how you feel, I'm sure glad I'm no longer alone in the trials of suburban woes.


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