Friday, November 28, 2008

The Little Engine That Could, but just didn't feel like it

My car has convulsed its final throes of death and is being auctioned off for parts as we speak. It happened that night of tsunami rain we had a couple of weeks ago, a Wednesday. As I drove along, realizing how hard it was to see in the world of blinking, moving lights reflecting off a hundred different wet surfaces, I thought, "No one should be out on a bike in this rain."

And yet.

I was minutes from carlessness.

Does this mean I will go back on my word? That hence forward I will be out there on my bike in that rainy darkness? No, it does not. There are other solutions, one of which to sign up for the allegedly amazing Zipcar system, for use on such miserable occasions. When and if I do that, I'll let you know how it works.

Meanwhile, let me finish my story -- predictable though it may be. Why is it that cars rarely break down at midday in dry weather in familiar areas? I was trying to get to Jessica's house but had become lost, a state that feels as familiar as my own skin. The street that was supposed to lead to her house dead ended behind a school, and I pulled into its parking lot to turn around. The engine killed, as it is wont to do -- only this time it wouldn't start up again. I called triple A, then wondered if I'd been dumb enough to let the oil run out. I can't keep up with it, it's such a guzzler. Better fix that, before the tow truck guy finds out and thinks I'm a dope. I got soaked to my skin while pouring in one and a half bottles, working by the spare light from a couple of lit windows in the school. Then I got soaked to the bone while trying to get the attention of someone inside. Finally a janitor appeared and carefully opened the door one inch, as if the rain might suddenly decide to travel horizontally and soak him too.

"Hi. My car just broke down over there. You gonna be rolling that gate closed any time soon?" I pointed to the long cyclone fence gate pulled back from the entrance on wheels.
"We close it at six," he said. It was quarter till.
"I've called the tow truck but they said it might take an hour."
"Alright then, I'll keep it open till quarter to seven."
"Thanks pal."

I had an errand to do.

Uh-oh. lunch break's over.

To be continued...


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