Monday, November 21, 2016

Trust Your Mechanic

I was driving to work today and suddenly, every time I put the clutch in, the car was instantly losing power, like it was slowly braking, as opposed to going into neutral.

I instantly envisioned terrible outcomes--towing it to the Wacky German Guys that service my car, and who call me "The Computer Guy" because I once advised them that a blue screen was probably not a good sign. Like, every time I engaged the clutch I was kind of jerked forward as the car slowed unnaturally. I knew this was going to be a more-than-a-thousand dollar fix. And my car has 165,000 miles on it--it's at the stage where one huge repair bill means "let's get a new car" and not "let's fix this one". The same thing as when you have an eleven year old cat and it needs open heart surgery. You have to know when to say when is what I'm saying.

So I thought of all the good times I had had with my sport wagon. Driving to Joshua Tree. Driving to Utah. Going on rollercoasters together. Having our first smoke. That time we danced to Against All Odds at the junior high dance.

With a tear in my eye I pulled into a gas station, knowing that I may have had that last drive with my old friend. In my head, I was already assembling a car-based playlist to help me through these tough times. I won't go into too many details about it, but you know there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house when I effortlessly moved from Jonathan Richman's Roadrunner to Springsteen's Thunder Road.

Or maybe I could learn to fix this old friend myself, despite the fact that the system is all computer controlled, and even though I may be known by my mechanic as The Computer Guy, chances of me fixing anything correctly approach zero pretty rapidly.

Then I noticed a tiny light on the digital display. I didn't even want to know what it meant: HDC. Here Die Cars, most likely. Or Heaven Don't Care? That seemed to match my mood.

HDC: Hill Descent Control. I had somehow pressed the Hill Descent Control button, a button which I have never pressed even once in the ten years I have owned the car.

I restarted the car, made sure HDC was no longer showing up, and drove into the midmorning sun, feeling free and alive for the first time.

Still, I have that playlist ready.

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