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More Vehicle-Related Trauma

Yesterday, my first Valentine’s Day as a single person since 1997, my neighbors were greeted with the sight of my car being towed out of my driveway.

Not exactly how I planned to spend the day.

We’d had yet another lake effect snowstorm. All of the local weather outlets always say that these storms will affect Berrien County, never my county, and they always end up hitting my county the worst. I just expect now that I will be shoveling even for storms my area isn’t supposed to get.

So I went out yesterday to shovel. Of course, it was also really cold (single digits) and I’d actually meant to go out and start my car on Sunday but I forgot. I finished shoveling, came in, then felt the car keys in my coat pocket. I’d once again forgotten to start the car. I almost decided not to bother but then I shrugged, put my boots back on, and headed out.

I turned the key and … nothing. Just clicking. I was sure it would start on the second try, but no. The car absolutely would not start.

I sat there, stunned. This was actually a scenario I’d asked Dave about back in 2018 when I was panicking, after he was first diagnosed. We had a different car back then and it was giving us a lot of trouble, so I asked him – what would I do if he was not here, and the car wouldn’t start? I can’t even remember his answer, to be honest.

I surprised myself by not freaking out. It helped that I really had nowhere to be. So I came in and went to the AAA website. I was hoping I could do this with the minimum of telephone interaction. It turned out to be really easy to request service using their website. They said it would be 45 minutes, and there was even a little map showing the progress of the person coming to help me.

As I waited, I did a search on things that could be the problem. Battery and alternator were the main results, and I figured it probably just needed to be jumped. But just in case, I wrote down the address of my mechanic (and then searched to see if AAA will take your car to the mechanic of your choice, or only one that is AAA sanctioned). This was all completely new to me – I’ve had AAA for 7 years and never used it.

The time on the website was down to 35 minutes and then it changed back to 45 minutes. Apparently it took 10 minutes for someone to respond to the call. So I figured I had time for a quick lunch, and then I hung around by the phone.

With about 25 minutes to go, the phone rang – a number I didn’t recognize. I answered and struggled through the call. (Seriously, the phone is hell for me. I hear them talking but it just doesn’t make sense to me, so I have to wait for the captions to catch up.) The guy said he was here to look at my car and I said, “Here? Like right now?!” He sure was! The website was very wrong about the progress of his travel, it turns out. But no complaints – he was very early instead of very late.

He tried to jump the car and it would not start. Now I was freaking out. He asked where I wanted the car towed, and I gave him my mechanic’s info and then asked what I should do. Should I walk to the mechanic’s? He said no, just call and let them know the car was coming. Then they would call me when the car was done; I didn’t need to be physically present.

So yay, another phone call. I suffered through that, and Tom said he’d be on the lookout for the car. My girl (I call her Nellie, she’s a 2012 Nissan Sentra) got loaded up and driven away around 2 pm.

Then I just sat and fretted. I couldn’t really do anything because I wanted to stay right by the phone (it is a voip captioned phone that sits on my desk). I started really freaking myself out by thinking, what if the car can’t be fixed? How will I look for a new car, when I can’t drive to look at cars? (I still don’t know the answer to that horrible potential situation.)

The shop closes at 5 and by 4:30 I hadn’t heard anything, so I figured I wouldn’t hear until the next day. Then at 4:45, Tom called. Another struggle through a conversation, but I figured out that he had put a battery charger on the car for a while, and then it started. They tested the alternator then, and it was fine. But the battery tested bad, so I needed a new battery. I was just so freaking relieved that it was fixable that I didn’t even care what it cost to fix it. Just fix my car, please!

Tom said it shouldn’t take long, and I said, “You mean … it will be done today?” And he confirmed that. Then I said that I had to walk over (figuring I would leave right away to try to get there by the time they were done with the car) and Tom said, “Oh no, I’ll come and get you.” I said, “Are you serious?!” and he laughed and said yes. So about 20 minutes later, he called again and said he was on his way.

He picked me up, we drove to the shop, I paid for the car, and the whole horrible thing was over about 4-1/2 hours after it started. What a way to spend Valentine’s Day! On the other hand, I was so busy worrying that I didn’t spend one second feeling bad about being alone on that day.

So many things to be thankful for! That I have AAA, that it was a fixable problem, that I found out on Monday (when my mechanic was open) and not Sunday (when he isn’t). That he actually came to pick me up! That I could afford to fix this without any real financial burden. Yes, it sucked that it happened at all but gosh, what if I had been out somewhere by myself and the car didn’t start when I got ready to drive home?! I mean, it could have been so much worse.

I will be honest, I’m getting some PTSD where the car is concerned. I would be happy to never drive again, because this stuff is getting to be too much. But I got back on the darn horse today – I went out for a long drive and then went shopping. But if I could have a few months free of any kind of vehicular situation, that would be swell.

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