5.19.2006

Timing


Let me tell you about my day. This morning, as I was driving through Lumberton, NC, about 200 miles from Charleston, my car stopped. I had to have it towed to a repair shop in this tiny Southern town so that I could be told by the mechanic that my timing chain had broken. I don't know if you know this, but when your timing chain breaks, it sends hundreds of little shards of metal careening through your engine compartment and warps your valves, as well. I now know this for a fact, because the guy showed me some of the metal shards. What this means is that the engine is gone.

This wasn't as much a shock for me as it might have been, because the Saturn has 203,000 miles on it, and I knew its days were numbered. I called Biffle for some consultation, and he suggested that we wait until Monday to decide whether or not to have the mechanics put a used engine in the Saturn ($1800!) or to let them scrap it and become a one-car family.

In the meatime, I had to get myself back to Charleston. Renting a car was the obvious solution, but there aren't that many rental places in Lumberton. Enterprise gave me a great rate, but they don't do one-way rentals, so I would have had to make someone drive with me back to Lumberton to return the car (Claire? Meghann?). Avis does one-way rentals, but they were in a town 30 miles away, and there was no taxi company in Lumberton. The mechanics suggested the Greyhound bus.

While I was making phone calls and trying to identify what my options actually were, the mechanics asked if I wanted any lunch. Unfortunately, although I was starving, I'd made a cardinal error, gone against my raising and my father's List of Constant Facts (soon to be a blog--watch for it), and gone on a trip without any money on me. (Lee Piepmeier: "Do you have any money on you? You can't go on a trip without any money on you!") And so the mechanics bought me lunch. How nice was that? It was pretty tasty, too.

I managed to find a cab company in Fayetteville, NC, that was willing to drive me the 30 miles to the car rental place, and I got a one-way rental (expensive as hell, let me tell you), and drove in air conditioned comfort back to Charleston, a mere five hours later than I'd planned.

Side note: Having just come from a workshop on oppression, and being in a situation that made me uneasy, I was really aware of power dynamics. I was aware of being white (huge advantage--how freaked out would I have been as a person of color having to hang out in this auto shop in the rural South?), female (drawback, although these particular mechanics didn't seem creepy or manipulative), financially solvent (thank goodness!), and a native English speaker (I had to do so much phone calling and negotiating to finally get out of there--what would I have done if I didn't speak the language?).

This may be the end for the Saturn. I'm not ready to make that pronouncement yet, though.

7 comments:

mary said...

oh my! sorry for the insane day you had but it makes for a good story!

Walter said...

now we know why the car was so loud, you know?

Trey said...

The car was so loud because the timing belt was about to break?

I know it sucks sometimes, but it is possible to get by with one car between two people, especially if one of them has a motorcycle.

I would just recommend that Biffle get some moto rain gear.

Maig said...

I had to make a similar decision with my old Camery wagon. It was a sad day but also a relief. I hope things work out and I'll be thinking of you.

daniel said...

What year is the Saturn? If you've got more than 200,000 miles on it, the odds are that your timing chain just totalled it.

Anyway, you might wanna shop around for an engine first.

Miss Meghann said...

Oh, AP. I would've totally driven you back. I love roadtrips!!

You obviously would not be able to do the above with Claire, though, as Jamie would inevitable beg you to join and then she would be sad if conversation turned to kayaking.

Jims and I actually had a big convo about the Theatre of the Oppressed the other day; THAT SOUNDS SO FAB. I'm with my family now, and through some bizarre kind of osmosis, my brother's lack of words has not allowed me to post coherently on your blog lately. (His name is Mumbles. We could not be more different, I guarantee you). HOWEVER, as soon as I am back tomorrow I am going to re-read and super comment :)

Also: YAY TO US! WE CAN INTERVIEW AND/OR GIVE PEOPLE CANCER ALL WE WANT THIS SUMMER! WHEEEEEEEEE!

much love, see you soon!!

The Mom said...

Alright, Ms. Meghann, what's the "give people cancer" comment refer to??
:-)

Alison's Mom