[Note from the Proprietor: This is my entry for this month's What I Learned From... groupwrite project. The topic this time is Transportation, and if you care to share something you've learned from them, well, you're welcome to join us! Just click on the link and read all the details.]
Have you ever undergone a trial? I’m not talking about a Perry Mason courtroom trial (although those can certainly be a real pain in the tookus). No, I mean a personal trial, as in when something is affecting your life in a truly serious and negative way.
Hey, it was a rhetorical question; I know you have – sooner or later everybody experiences personal trials. But that’s life, right?
I’m also going to assume (in spite of what they say about assuming) that you understand the fact that personal trials help us grow as human beings. (‘Course, if you’re not a human being, then you may disregard the rest of this post. And please don’t, you know, eat my face.)
Mind you, it kinda goes without saying (so naturally I’ll say it anyway) that nobody, and I mean nobody, actually enjoys trials, even if they’re good for us. Alas; that thought doesn’t make ‘em any easier to take.
Gremlins, Gremlins Everywhere
See, I used to have this… car.
Now understand; in no way does that simple sentence express the true depth of feeling, the grit-my-teeth frustration, the tearing-out-the-hair angst I experienced because of that car. I’m tellin’ ya, it was probably the most irritating and frustrating vehicle I’ve ever owned.
It was an old Ford Capri like the one above (except mine was blue). Oh, don’t get me wrong; I’m sure it’s a perfectly good design. It’s just that, well, I’m almost positive mine was, er, possessed (flash of lightning; crash of thunder; sound of terrified scream).
Not long after I bought the stupid thing, I started having electrical problems. (Well, the car did, not me. As far as I can tell, my electrical system still works fairly well, considering the milage.) Now, for those of you who don’t know, electrical problems in a car are often the most aggravating and tricky problems to diagnose and fix. They seem to come and go with absolutely no rhyme or reason. For instance, one day the headlight worked fine, the next day it wouldn’t work at all (unless, of course, you gave the dashboard a good, hard whack).
You’ve heard that urban legend about the “mechanic sensor” secretly built into the driver’s seat? Yep; you can take your wheezing, coughing, on-its-last-leg auto to the shop, but as soon as the mechanic sits in the seat, the vehicle instantly begins running perfectly. Then, as you drive away (usually accompanied by considerable muttering to oneself), everything goes wrong again – only more so.
Electrical problems are like that. You wanna know why? Well, it’s because they rarely seem to have direct cause-effect relationships, where you can point to something specific and say, “This obviously caused that.” Trying to track down an electrical problem in any vehicle can be an exercise in frustration at best. I’m tellin’ ya; if you want a lesson in patience, well Bubba, trying to fix an electrical problem is definitely the way to go.
For the record, though, I have a theory.
Electrical problems are actually caused by little invisible gremlins who sneak around inside your vehicle, causing random glitches whenever they feel like it. They live behind the dashboard, where they know you can’t reach them, and subsist on the fast-food crumbs you leave behind. C’mon, who’s with me on this? Anybody? (sound of crickets…)
Flicker, not Flikr
As I said, this Capri (you have to imagine me saying that name in the same way Seinfeld always pronounced Newman – with gritted teeth) developed an electrical problem (I never named any other cars once Yolanda and I parted ways *sob*). Worse, it was something I’d never seen, nor even heard of before.
Here’s what was happening. Every time the car went over a bump in the road (pretty much most of the time, considering the roads around here), the entire electrical system would very briefly flicker on and off a couple of times. As it got worse, I also heard a buzzing sound; something like an electrical short. It began with really big bumps, like railroad crossings, or pedestrians. Over time, it happened if I so much as crossed a painted stripe in the road.
Now, bear in mind that I was a (very) poor college student at the time, which meant my auto repair budget was approximately $3 per month. So I really didn’t want to take it to the shop; after all, I didn’t have a spare arm, leg or firstborn child to hand over. I asked my neighbor, who was something of a home mechanic, but he couldn’t figure it out either – in fact, he’d never heard of anything like it. Just great.
Weeks passed and my anxiety and stress level grew. The car was running so badly, I truly never knew if I’d get where I was going, be it down the street or across town. Since I had no other choice, I had to chance it – I had to get to work, after all.
I have to say, though, I truly learned the meaning of the phrase, “pray without ceasing”! I kid you not; in those days, it was prayer and God’s grace that got me to my destination. (The truth is, He gets me where I’m goin’ pretty much every day, you know?)
OK, that’s enough whining for today’s episode of As the Middle Zone Turns, don’t you think? Tune back in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion: Desperation Provides the Key.