Thursday, January 18, 2007

electricity and I don't mix

My car died yesterday. Cars and wristwatches always die an electrical death in my presence. I don't think it's coincidental that I have a pacemaker because it's the electrical pathways that are awry in my heart, either.

Electricity and I just don't mix.

There I was, driving down the road toward the preschool. Suddenly there's a click and a flash and then the dashboard is blinking crazily. Numbers flying up and down in kilometers and miles, alternately. A trip odometer sprung to life, a feature I've never seen before until that very minute. Of course, these are blips I can live with.

Then the anti-lock brake light came on, another click, and I lost the steering too. It's an odd feeling driving a car that's given up the ghost while still in motion. I put my whole body into grinding the wheel to the right so I could park it somewhere near a curb and out of the flow of traffic.

Meanwhile, people are driving up streets the wrong way and jumping out of cars and running in front of me, for no other apparent reason than to test my reflexes and driving skills in general. Like driving is something I'm so good at under the best of circumstances. Let alone with no brakes, no steering, no power, and no muscles to speak of.

Well, I thought, this isn't good.

I took the key out of the ignition and put it back in again and tried to restart it. Because sometimes you can fool the car into compliance.


Come on, turn over for me. Pretend you know who I am.


I really didn't feel like walking the rest of the way to the school to get my kid.
I didn't really feel like putting him in the car now, either, but first things first.

One more time.

This time, the engine turned over.

It was as if the car spontaenously had a psychotic episode.

I pointed that out to the mechanic after I coasted the car nervously into the service station. He didn't seem to accept my reasoning.

My little son wasn't terribly pleased with me when I told him we couldn't drive home in the car. Like the mechanic, he too seemed unwilling to accept my reasoning.

When his grandfather showed up to give us a ride, my son climbed in and thrust his arms out to bar my entrance. "You can't come. You're not allowed."

(I have given up being appreciated here on earth. If I were to seek only that, I would be no better than the chickens who drown themselves by looking up into the skies with their beaks open when it rains.)

I spoke with the mechanic today. He has not yet had a chance to look at the vehicle. But he feels certain it's something electrical.

So doubtless something expensive and time-consuming and electrical.