Thursday, January 11, 2007

Good Friends and Lessons Learned

I learned a lesson today. A $163.48 lesson, in fact. The hard way.

A few weeks ago I noticed that one of the belts on my truck would sometimes squeal briefly when I started the engine. “Hmm,” I remember thinking, “I should probably look into replacing that at some point.” Unfortunately, I didn’t really consider it to be an imperative. After all, my first car, a 1974 Ford Mustang II, did the same thing, only longer and louder when I started it. And I drove it for at least 10,000 miles before I got around to replacing the belts on it. In other words, I thought I had some time. Guess what? I ran out of time this morning.

I got up and did my usual morning ritual and then left the house at about 5:55am. Instead of driving through Oak Ridge to get to work like I often do, I decided to take the interstate (which I do less often, though I almost always come home that way). I heard the squeal briefly when I started the truck, but it stopped as usual and off I went. Everything was going along fine until I got almost to where I-40 and I-75 split, which was when I noticed that the battery light and the parking brake light were on.

Well, that was odd, I thought, but the truck was still driving fine, and a quick check let me know that the parking brake was indeed NOT engaged. Thus, I concluded (incorrectly, it turns out) that it was likely an electrical glitch. But nothing else was wrong and the headlights were still on, so I … looked back down at the dash and noticed that the engine temperature was spiking. Huh? Uh-oh, I thought, since I had just passed the last available exit for several miles.

Sure enough, I lost power and coasted to a stop on the side of the road. I noticed a little steam on the right side of the hood as I shut the engine off, and I figured that it was coolant bubbling out of the reservoir. There was only one likely explanation. The belt must have broken, and it must have been connected to both the alternator and the water pump. Yep.

I called work first to let them know I’d be late. Then I called AAA. Then I waited for almost 45 minutes for the tow truck to arrive while the cab of my truck got steadily colder and colder. It finally got there and he hauled me back to a Pep Boys in Knoxville where I left it for service. Still, there I was with no way to get home or to work. Why do these things only happen when MG is out of town?

Thank goodness for George R. He works about 2 miles from the Pep Boys and I knew he’d be there early as always. I called him and he came and got me and drove me home to my other car. I finally got to work two hours late at about 8:30 am.

But I still had a problem. I had a car at the shop and no way to get there to pick it up without having to leave a car there. Enter Kelly, who is a long-time friend (she and MG went to Vet School together). She also happens to work with George R., so I think she was anticipating my call. She came and got me at home after she got done at work and drove me back down to Pep Boys.

I’m lucky enough to have a lot of good friends, but especially lucky today to have two of them close at hand. Thanks, guys.

Trivia Time

The Rules are here, and please email your answers to this address.

1. What 1980 film featured John Travolta and Debra Winger and centered around Gilley’s Club?

2. What domestic model was the best-selling car in the U.S from 1992 to 1996?

3. What mythological critter was famous for hanging out in a maze?

4. What is the term used for a solemn public decree issued by the Pope?

5. Who caused Custer’s downfall (other than Custer himself) and where?

Bonus: What was wrong with Fuzzy Wuzzy?

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