baby, you can drive my car…if you don’t mind thinking on your feet.

September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Like all good procrastinators I have avoided, until now, airing the dirtiest of my laundry.  Yes, it can be said my apartment is a bit untidy, and yes, my finances are a wee bit in trouble… but my true masterpiece of avoidance therapy:  my car.

I bought her, a 2001 Nissan Altima, in 2007 with only 30k miles on it!  While it devastated my bank account (and will continue to for another two years) owning a car living in the outskirts of Boston couldn’t have been better:  a savvy parker with a little bit of time and disposable income will have NO problem wedging four wheels to the curb, especially if they don’t mind the “you parked like a jerk, so I’m going to nudge you” ding that is so popular in the North East, but absolutely forbidden in California.

The slow degradation happened innocently enough – one day I thought I’d be a good girl like my Dad taught me and check the oil level.  Popping the hood was no problem:  but getting it back down again was.  The trunk latch soon followed and one beautiful day in Portland while shutting a load of bottles and crap in to the boot the whole mechanism seemed to just drop and disappear in to the abyss that is known to me as “that place kinda inside the bumper, but also inside the trunk.”  It’s freaking Narnia down there, because it took my brother 20 minutes to find it, but only 5 minutes to reattach in the parking lot of VIP Auto in Yarmouth.

But what are you going to do?!?  Like anyone actually performs trunk or hood latch maintenance, anyways.  I was in the clear:  it wasn’t my fault.  Besides, getting that stuff fixed is stupid because inevitably you’ll meet a friend-of-a-friend whose brother is a Nissan mechanic and works from his driveway on the weekends for CHEAP and trade!  It’s not my fault!  Neither is the sticky gas-cap-open-y lever that seemed to rust and get “sticky” like the aforementioned latches.  This new development was the first time my car required me to appear negligent or abnormal in public…as demonstrated by my needing to get out of the car, bend at the waist, lunge and push with all my force in order to open my gas tank.  Which is really obnoxious because the same lack of foresight and minimal driving schedule calls for only putting $5 of gas in the car at a time…about four times a week.  Which has gotten better, I swear.  I’m now down to 2x$10 or, on rare windfall weeks, 1x$20!

Oh, ha ha, Audrey, your car is so funny and difficult.  I lent her to my Dad while he was between cars about a year and a half ago and that is the gist of what he said when he called from the gas pump  “Audrey, I just can’t seem to get the gas latch to open.”  Oh, ha ha Dad, because explaining this over the phone is going to make you question whether there was something big you left out during 18 years of imparting valuable education and behaviors to your firstborn.

About a week in to my car vacation Dad called with his hat in his hands:  “I seem to have broken your bumper, it’s kind of hanging off.”   Seems he was backing out of Dunkin’ Donuts and hit a curb or something (Nissans are surprisingly low-riding) and it caught and snagged on one side, giving my front bumper a forever snarky grin that two mechanics have overlooked so far during inspection.  Phew!

Which is actually fine since I was rear-ended the previous Autumn and the back bumper was a little wonky, too.

OK.  The tally so far isn’t so absurd:  trunk, hood, and gas tank latches, front bumper, rear bumper.  Whatever!  I’m still a star rolling up with my silver car, gray leather interior, sweet wood paneling on the radio console.  Golden.

Then there was the time I was driving 295-S between Forest and Congress and hit a CAR BATTERY with the front left of my car at 50mph.  This is a whole entry unto itself but the short of it is that the mechanic was able to fix the problem for zero dollars since the thing that was making my car not go was just a piece that had been bent out of place.  Oh and he hosed all the battery acid off the chasse.  And made a long list of things I could potentially fix.  Oh, ha ha, mechanic, you just don’t know me, do you?  And the AAA guy who picked me up had Glenn Beck’s book coming out of his bag in the cab of the truck.  I’m worried about people who are smart enough to read but dumb enough to read that particular book.  Unless he was being ironic…I’m sure he was.  As much for my sake as his own.

Then after the battery/near-death-experience incident there was this funny crunchy sand noise coming from the passenger side window whenever it went up and down.  J. and I would joke around and pull the damn thing up whenever it got stuck and it was fine – until one day my coworker and I were going to Smiling Hill Farm for lunch, I overlooked telling him about the problem, and boom.  Hot summer day, coworker wants breeze in his hair, window is forever stuck in the abyss of the passenger side door.

My window is ‘permanently’ stuck open.

Which is funny because the driver’s side window is suffering the same early signs right now.  I can’t have two stuck-open windows!  Because at present I cover the passenger side window with a tarp (OK, it’s actually a big green poncho) at night and performing that ritual twice on both sides of the car might make me decide to stay in bed for a week.

So imagine my chagrin yesterday when the turn signals stopped working.

Don’t get me wrong – they gave it the college try and started to blink but stopped after two blinks.  OK.  So instead I simulated the blinking rhythm by manually blinking at every light.  This is extremely annoying and, more importantly, keeps my hands from doing awesome things while I drive like switching the radio station or drumming on the steering wheel.  Compounded with the fact that my trunk and half the backseat are filled with bottles that I’m supposed to return.  The signals started to work again during my lunch break and I only hope that they experienced a brief lack of inspiration only to be followed by many more years of diligent service.


Trunk, hood and gas tank latches, front bumper hanging, rear bumper hanging, battery acid erosion (might explain the weird squeaking when I go over bumps or minor gradations in the road), stuck open passenger side window, “stuck” shut driver’s side window and, last but not least, reluctant turn signals.

Maybe it’s time to find that friend-of-a-friend’s brother and get him to work for pounds of coffee, photographs of his kids and some really cute jewelry.  They do that, right?


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