Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What a Couple of Weeks!

Last Friday I was toolin' down I-680 to work at 7:30 am trying to make it for the bi-monthly meeting and suddenly my engine light went on. I noticed it and wondered how long it had been on. I searched all my gauges and found that my water temperature gauge was so hot it was off the scale!
The smart thing would have been to immediately pull over and call for a tow. But I panicked and kept going to the nearest exit (5 miles later). I pulled onto Durham Rd. heading for Fry's Electronics and just a block away white steam billowed out from under my hood. I freaked out and pulled over into a ditch near a merge sign on a very busy thoroughfare.
I shut off the engine for 15 minutes and then tried to get back into traffic only to discover that every person on that road was a complete asshole and wouldn't let me in. I eventually forced my way in (water gauge still hot) and finally made it to the parking lot of Fry's where I heard the horrid sound of rattling in my engine just as I turned off the engine.
I got out and inspected the engine. There was a hole in the reservoir where I figured the steam was coming from.
Having no roadside assistance plan, I called 411 for a towing company and contacted U-Save Towing. 20 minutes later RC showed up with his truck. RC is a black guy who had worked for various towing companies over the years. I pulled my car onto his 50 degree incline burning rubber on the front tires trying to keep it from falling back. RC chuckled. "You got it. You ain't going anywhere." he said.
During the ride to the nearest auto shop, RC told me of his experiences in Modesto and the Central Valley vis-a-vis Fremont and the Greater Bay Area. He was convinced that people in the bay area were nicer than those in the central valley. I agreed. We then talked about racism and the economy. Talked about global warming and the changes in the weather. He said, "Here I am, a black man, talking to you, a white guy. Two people who probably would never speak together except for the intervention of fate. I know people in Modesto who are angry with me and speak badly to me simply because I have dark skin. But my question is: Why don't people use whatever anger they have inside them and use it to fight global warming, or fight fat cat corporations, or back a particular candidate, or something that really matters instead of hating minorities for something we never did? It's stupid."
I nodded my agreement. He was very fair with me and charged me a mere 58 dollars for the tow. When Family Garage opened, he left shaking hands and exchanging names. Martin emerged from the garage, a latino man who spoke good English. I told him my radiator blew and I needed a new resevoir. He said he would look at it and would probably be done around 11:00am.
My situation at work was bad. I had several calls open, a couple that were a week old and one that I could not seem to fix. I missed the meeting (I later found out it was nothing but a bad news session), and will now be throwing more money into The Beast that was my '97 Honda Accord.
I ate a good breakfast at Dino's Family Dining (what's with the whole family thing in Fremont, anyway?) and walked and walked... and walked. The temperature steadily rose to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and Martin wasn't done at 11. He was done at 4:30 pm.
He replaced the radiator and charged me 222 dollars. Not bad, except he wanted that in cash. He had no way to process credit or debit cards. I wish he had said this before. So, I wander out into the heat and coax 240 dollars out of an ATM at a 76 station. (It took two transactions since most ATM machines only allow $200 max.)
Martin didn't have a reservoir so he epoxied the cap on and sealed the hole. A temporary fix until the weekend.
So, I go to Game Kastle on Coleman Ave in San Jose and wait for the traffic to subside and the weather to cool down. I left at 7:00pm and made it home in an hour. All that time my water temp gauge was oscillating between just under the half mark to hot. As long as I kept moving, I was fine, but if I stopped or ascended a hill, the temp would rise.
Saturday: I go to Premier Auto and Tire in Manteca and guess what? They don't have a reservoir either. They have to order it from the dealer. So I have them take a look at the damage and they noticed melted plastic wiring which they repaired as well as replaced the headlight they were supposed to fix last weekend.
Again, the water temp gauge is all over the place and it's getting worse.
Monday: I kick ass on calls in an effort to catch up. I have to turn off my engine twice in traffic to keep from overheating.
Tuesday: I take two hours off work to find out if the shop has my reservoir. Nope. However, en route to work an hour later they call to inform me that they do have the part. Oh well, looks like tomorrow. I do an install for BAE Systems, fix one of their copiers, and a couple other calls. I then go to Game Kastle (again to wait for traffic and the heat to subside) and play a cool game of Federation Commander ( a newer and better version of StarFleet Battles). I met three friends who were veterans of the game and they were looking for new players. What luck! I played a Lyran Cheetah Frigate and Destroyer against a Federation New Command Cruiser and a Kzinti New Battlecruiser. My partner had a Lyran War Cruiser and another Cheetah Frigate. We won but it was a hard fought battle. It was 10:00pm and I was still in San Jose! I made it home by 11:00pm and went to bed.
Wednesday: I go back to Premier Auto and Tire. They install the reservoir and thermostat. They let go of my car at 2:30pm so it was too late to get to work. However, the water temp gauge was slower at getting to hot but it was still getting there. Can anyone fix this fucking car?
I got three new calls on top of the three old ones I had. So tomorrow will be another busy bee day. Let's see how much I can accomplish with all this bullshit going on....


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