The series of unfortunate events I’m referring to all started two Sundays ago, when my friends and I decided we just had to try and finish our Christmas project.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
We had spent three hours assembling a particularly complicated piece of machinery, only to discover that it wasn’t working. While Lena, our resident techie, tried to figure out what was wrong with the thing, Maiko went off to make the long overdue overseas call to her mom.
I stayed with Lena and watched her problem solve. Since I really didn’t know much about the machine she was working on, I wasn’t much help. Just to appear useful, I tried sending her what I thought was positive psychic energies to help her out. I think it really helped, as a minute later, she announced that the problem must have something to do with the gadget’s power.
If we wanted to get our project finished, we needed to buy a new power supply soon. The clock struck 6:30pm. The stores would close at 7. Lena and I decided we should rush to the nearest electronics shop (and maybe to that other store we were meaning to get our white elephant gift from).
Using caveman sign language, I told Maiko that Lena and I would be heading out. She mouthed that she wanted to come with. So she got changed in under two minutes while still managing to have a conversation with her mom.
As it usually happens during suspenseful movie moments or often in horror films–it was pouring cats and dogs when we got in my car and drove off. I should have known it was an ominous sign that something unfortunate was going to happen.
We got our power supply, and white elephant gifts in record time. About half a mile away from the house, I realized I needed to buy some gas if I wanted to get to work the next day. I stopped by the nearest gas station to fill up my tank.
It was then that I realized that my car hood was smoking. We hadn’t seen it because we had been driving in the rain. But under the fluorescent lights of the gas station, we could clearly see the smoke rising.
My car doesn’t look like this, but the smoking engine does look remarkably similar.
I popped the car hood and inspected the engine. A man waiting for his turn behind me noticed the smoke, and asked if he could be of help. I thanked him and waved him off thinking it was no biggie, and was probably just the hot engine getting a bit of the rain.
While I filled up the tank, Maiko and Lena looked around under my car hood for a possible problem. Lena noticed a blue puddle underneath my car and yelled “The car’s leaking!” Maiko took one look at it and declared it was just some slushie somebody had spilled previously.
Maiko pointed to my coolant tank. It was completely empty and we surmised that it was probably why my engine had overheated. Since I always carry spare coolant in my car, this was no problem. I quickly filled it up, and we left the gas station.
Five minutes later, under the glare of the garage lights, we noticed my car engine was smoking once again. Lena looked under the hood. There was a fresh puddle of some luminous blue liquid. “Aha! I knew your car was leaking!” she said triumphantly.
Maiko stared at the puddle and laughed. “I thought it was slushie!”
We checked the coolant tank again and were aghast to find it completely empty. Something was definitely wrong with my car. The Triple A guy we called agreed that I should definitely take my car into the shop to get it checked.
I counted my blessings, thankful that at least I didn’t have the car trouble while I was driving on the freeway in the rain. My optimistic side convinced me that if I took my car in at 7am, it would be fixed by 11am and I’d still make it to work.
Boy, was I wrong.
Monday, December 6, 2010
It was a good thing the Honda shop was seven minutes from the house. By the time I got there at 7:30am, my car engine was smoking again.
I told the shop mechanic Mike about the blue liquid leaking from the car, the smoking engine and the ever-emptying car coolant tank. While he processed the papers, I settled down in the waiting room. I made myself comfortable, thinking I’d have at the most three hours to finish reading my book while I waited for my car to get fixed.
Mike came in a few minutes later and said that he won’t be able to tell me what my car’s real problem is until after lunch.
Even with the free cupcakes, coffee and hot chocolate, there was no way I would last in the waiting room until lunch. I signed up for the shuttle and headed home.
I kept myself busy and waited until lunch for them to call me back. I was still holding out hope that I wouldn’t have to miss work completely. By 1 PM, I had given up on waiting and contented myself with being able to do some things around the house which I couldn’t normally do on a work day.
Mike, the shop mechanic called me at 4:30PM and told me that my car engine was cracked. The good news is that the repairs are still covered by the warranty. The bad news, is that I’d have to wait between 3-4 days to get my car back.
Great. How was I supposed to drive 20 miles to work without a car? The public transportation system in LA is not exactly helpful. It occurred to me that LA drivers must feel just as helpless when their cars are out of commission .
Seeing that I don’t have much of it, I didn’t want to spend money car rental fees. I racked my brain for a less painful solution to my car trouble. I hit upon the brilliant idea to borrow my sister’s car. Since she was in Mali doing her Peace Corps duties, I thought she wouldn’t mind. I told my mom about my car issues and asked her if I could borrow my sister’s car. She told me to just drop by anytime to pick it up.
Lena was kind enough to drive me to my mom’s house. When I got there, however, I hit upon another unfortunate event.
After handing me the car keys, my dad told me about how he had come home from the mall last Sunday and discovered that the Accord had door problems. When I asked him what door problems meant, he showed me. The car remote control would not unlock the doors. What was worse, was that even the manual way of opening the car door was out of the question.
We called on Triple A again, and the guy came and unlocked the door for us. He warned me not to lock the door again or I’d never get into the car. We had to call him again minutes later for another problem: now the car door wouldn’t close. He fixed the problem and told us that we could drive the car, but we probably should take it into the shop to get fixed at some point.
Sighing, I thanked him and Papa and drove the car back home. It was going to be an awful long day tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I took my sister’s accord in to the car shop. I was there at 7am, and Mike the guy who was working on my car, was surprised to see me come in again.
New car, new problem. I told him about the door problem. After an hour of running diagnostics, he reported that there were two problems with the car: the actuator, which was in charge of the electrical car entry system (meaning the remote control system), and the manual lock.
This meant that he not only needed to get a locksmith in to fix the manual problem, he also needed to order some actuator parts which were not available in their shop. He told me I just had to pay for the parts he had to order ($68 worth) and pay the rest of the bill ($416) when I came back on Thursday to get the car door fixed. Mike said I could still drive the car, I just wouldn’t be able to lock it.
Wonderful. I had gotten out of car rental fees only to be stuck with a car that had worse (and more expensive) problems.
Grumbling, I drove across the shop to the credit union to withdraw some money to pay for the parts. I got out of the car and decided to test the work they had done on the car.
I ended up locking myself out. AGAIN. I pressed down on the drivers door lock, and all the doors automatically locked. I tried using the remote control, but it wouldn’t work.
Apparently, they had fixed the remote control issues on all the passenger doors but NOT the driver’s door. The passenger doors would lock and unlock with the remote control, but ONLY IF I didn’t lock them using the driver’s door lock.
I called Triple A for the nth time this week. Once the door was unlocked, I drove across the lot to the Honda Service Center and told Mike the service guy what had happened. In the process of demonstrating the problem, I got locked out again. He called one of the shop’s mechanic to unlock it for me.
The only thing that would open with the remote control was the trunk door. The old shop mechanic went in through the trunk to open the door. He recommended that I leave the car in the shop.
Leaving the Accord was out of the question. I had already missed work the previous day and I couldn’t afford to miss it again.
Resigned to my fate, I drove to work.
Once at work, however, I realized that I could NOT possibly leave my car door unlocked. I was parked on a street that was too near the very busy Wilshire Blvd. What if my car—I mean my sister’s car—got stolen?
I was already an hour late for work. I had to make a decision.
I locked the door and made my way to the office.
Nine hours later, I stood by my sister’s car watching the street for passing cars or passing people like some suspicious character out of a Detective movie. I did not want to be mistaken for a car burglar so I had to wait.
When the coast was clear, I popped the trunk and scrambled to unlock the driver’s side door. Once that was done, I leapt out of the passenger side door, closed the trunk, hopped in the driver’s seat, then drove off.
Wednesday, December 7, 2010
My co-worker chose this day of all days, to hitch a ride with me to his house which was a few blocks from work. Of course, I couldn’t show him how I got my car door open, so I made him wait by the shop. He had to wait at least ten minutes because for some reason cars kept passing by on the street so I couldn’t dive in the trunk just yet.
After dropping David off, I couldn’t go home straight away. I had to get a few things at Costco.
Going into my car through the trunk in a busy parking lot was out of the question. People would think me either crazy or crooked. Either way, the cops would get called.
I decided to risk leaving the car door unlocked. I dashed into the store, picked up all the things I needed and ran back to the car in record time.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw my sister’s car still parked where I had left it.
Maiko had spent most of the day laughing with her co-workers about my car trouble. Peeved, I suggested that she should experience Trunk-Diving herself.
Here’s Maiko finding out for herself just how exciting my life has been the last couple of days:
I demonstrated the proper way of TRUNK DIVING, having become an expert at it over the last few days:
Maiko and Lena, who watched me dive into the trunk and wiggle my way to the car door, were amazed at how smooth and easy I made it look.
I told them practice makes perfect. That and the fact that I had to learn how to do it really fast so that no one would see me.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I was at the Honda Service Center bright and early again. The parts had arrived and the locksmith had been called. All I had to do was sit patiently at the waiting room and wait for everything to get fixed.
By now the service center felt like home—I’d been there more times than I could count.
Mike came in minutes later and said that the car would be done after lunch since they weren’t sure when the locksmith would arrive. I groaned. I thought it would be done in an hour and I’d drive off to work in my sister’s car. Of course, I was wrong again.
I signed up for the shuttle and had to wait half an hour before the shuttle driver—an old man who looked like he should be retiring– came in and announced the shuttle would be leaving. I had a bit of trouble giving the shuttle driver directions since he spoke very little English and I spoke no Spanish.
Sitting shotgun beside the old man wasn’t a pleasant experience. He drove a bit too erratically for my taste—like maybe he couldn’t really see where he was going or something. We almost hit an oncoming car when he decided to overtake the Garbage Truck parked on the street.
I was so relieved to get home in one piece.
Luckily, it was Maiko’s day off. I told her the problem and she was nice enough to let me borrow her car. I hopped in her Rav 4 and drove to work slower than usual. I wanted to make sure I didn’t get into any accident since I wasn’t driving my own car.
At half past eleven, Mike called me up with good news. My own car was fixed and my sister’s car would be done by the afternoon. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked him.
Since Maiko needed to run some errands, she biked to the Honda center and picked up my car.
Of course, now I had two cars when I only needed one. After work, I dropped Maiko’s car of at her house and Maiko drove me to the Honda center to pick up my sister’s car.
We celebrated the end of my car troubles by going to TGI Friday’s.
Friday, December 10, 2010
I drove my sister’s car to work because I would be returning it that night to my mom. I was extremely pleased that I didn’t have to go in through the trunk just to be able to drive off.
It felt like I had been holding my breath the whole week. I finally let it go when I returned the car keys to my mom. We waited for Maiko, who was supposed to pick me up and drive me home. She arrived an hour later, and after dinner and hanging out with my mom, she drove us to my aunt’s house for a last minute Physical Therapy house call.
We finally got home at 11PM. I was so happy to see my little Civic waiting in the garage for me.
This episode is definitely not something I would like to repeat again. But I’m forever looking at the bright side of things, so in a way I am thankful for this life-altering experience. At least now I know how to get into a locked car through the trunk.
More importantly, I have more life experiences to write about.
Maybe I’ll have one of my characters go trunk-diving one of these days.
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