What, I'm the only one?
Well what had happened was, I was trucking up to see my gal ninafarina in the ever-reliable ChickWagon, when, somewhere around the bustling metropole of Eleva, WI, my oil light starts to flicker. No big deal, thought I, I'll just wait until I get up to St. Paul and get an oil change. Then about five minutes later, it starts making a hideous noise (I would describe it as "a giant farting out a string of lit firecrackers" if I were of a poetically disgusting mind) and decelerating at a rate perhaps not alarming, but at the least concerning. So I pull over to the side of the road, pop the hood (because, you know, I'm such an automotive genius, I can tell what's wrong just by looking), and...THE ENGINE IS ON FIRE.
Luckily for me, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I always have a bunch of bottled water in my car for road trips. Figuring that 'in the future, I might get thirsty' is a better risk than 'at the present time, my car will be reduced to a melted puddle of white steel', I emptied the bottles onto the fire and doused it. Pausing only to release a stream of several hundred obscenities and have a number of small heart attacks, I called 911 (thanks, cell phone! This is what you were made for, and not taking calls in the movie theatre about whether or not someone wants that one brand of oatmeal!), who called the Highway Patrol, who called a tow truck. The upshot: somehow, and for unknown reasons, the oil line burst in my car, spraying the engine with oil (causing the fire) and causing a total lubricant loss in mere minutes. The mechanics (who, contrary to my last experience with some utterly shifty, incompetent mechanics here in Chic, were extremely helpful and straightforward) said the damage was done before the oil light ever went on.
And what's the damage? It's bad. Basically, I need a whole new engine. I cursed a whole bunch more and repeated some variant of Michael Corleone's "every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in" line (only he was talking about the Mafia and I'm talking about being poor), then headed to a Burger King on the edge of Eau Claire, WI to wait for my girfriend* to pick me up**. The estimate from the mechanics was...well, it ain't cheap, let's be true here, you can't replace a whole engine on the cheap. But it's very, very reasonable for the amount of work, so much so that it's wiser to go ahead with it than dump the car (which is only a '99, and has a mere 44k miles on it). Assuming there's no hidden jump from estimate to actual repair, I'm amazingly pleased that the mechanics -- who, after all, pretty much had me over a barrel -- have been so accomodating (they're not charging me for the tow, they helped get me a rental car, they hunted down a new engine over a holiday weekend, and they're going to have someone stay late so I can pick up the car when it's ready). All in all, I can't say I'm lucky, because it's a huge inconvenience and a big financial hit, but it could have been a lot worse, both in terms of expense and circumstance.
Now all I gotta do is get up to Eau Claire somehow (rent a car? take a bus? fly to Mpls. and take an airport shuttle?) and THEN drive back, AGAIN. Someday in the next week or so, I have about a 16-hour day of driving ahead of me.
Anyway, my weekend was perfect, except for the fire! How was yours?
*: In case I don't say it enough, my girlfriend is awesome. She got someone to watch her kid on very short notice and drove a hundred miles from St. P to Eau Claire to pick me up, and proceeded to show me a very lovely weekend despite the rotten week and disastrous trip that preceded it. If she doesn't sweep the Girlfriendies this year, I'm boycotting next year.
*: The best thing about the wait was that while I was sitting in this Burger King in rural Wisconsin, nursing an iced tea and waiting pathetically for my gal to come and pick me up, calamityjon called me on my cell to tell me a joke he's gonna use in a Doc Homonculous comic. (It was a ten-percenter, is why he called me, and I won't give it away, but it's a pretty snazzy joke). So I laffed at the joke, and he's all "Well, talk to you later, me and superdaintykate are on our way to San Francisco, lah de dah", and I'm all, "that's great, have fun, man, I'm just gonna sit here for three hours in a Burger King in Eau Claire, WI, waiting to be rescued, about 300 yards away from the smoking remains of my car." HA HA, CALAMITY JON, I WIN THE PHONE CALL!