I have developed an intuitive, holistic approach to automotive maintenance. It is true that my Miata’s owner manual states that I should have brought Lucy(my Miata) in for timing belt replacement six years or 60,000 miles ago, but my awareness of her vital signs is so heightened after all of these years that I believe my intuition is wiser than any owner’s manual.
I knew something was amiss when Lucy suddenly stopped working on Highway 101 this morning. Her engine shut off and we coasted to a stop only maybe 250 yards from the freeway off-ramp to Central San Rafael. Again, I credit this to my inner-awareness. If I didn’t think Lucy would make it that far, I would have taken her to the mechanic long ago.
I knew that this would not be a real problem, because I had my cell phone with me, my cell phone with the “flat battery” and please don’t ask me what that means, but I was not able to make my call of duress to AAA. This, too, was not a problem, as I still had the concrete barrier that I could hang onto for dear life once I’d crawled across Lucy to the passenger side door. You think I’d open the driver’s door on 101 in rush hour? I am no fool.
Within seconds of attempting to crawl out of the door onto the concrete barrier, the Freeway Service Patrol arrived.
“Get back into your automobile,” the driver commanded through a loud speaker on the roof of his truck. “I’m going to push you.”
I diligently began folding myself back into a pretzel to crawl over my laundry bag and my messenger’s bag to the driver’s seat. This was not easy.
“You can use the driver’s door,” he instructed.
I paid close attention and we were off. He pushed me all the way to the Shell station on the corner of Irwin and 3rd Street.
This is where Lucy and I spent most of our morning, as it took nearly two hours for the Red Hill Tow truck to arrive. Again, I cannot reiterate how important it is to be prepared. Always carry a form of personal identification with you and your AAA card. In my case, I had a still unpaid insurance bill and a BART parking ticket that I guess I still owe money on. Had I not had these forms of ID with me, AAA likely would likely charge me full price for this. Of course, they asked me what happened to my real id and AAA membership card. I explained that they had fallen out of my wallet. This is true. I did not tell them when.
The tow truck finally arrived and Lucy and I were taken to Mellow Motors. I cannot emphasize enough the value of getting to know your friendly, neighborhood mechanic. In my case, Ric Kellen is a sponsor of my cycling team, Team Mako, and
I wonder if we have a team discount as luck would have it, his shop has been voted Specific Pun Best in Marin in both domestic and foreign auto repairs. And it’s a good thing. I have never taken Lucy to a mechanic before. I prefer to handle her maintenance on my own using my previously mentioned methods based on holistic techniques I was picking up in a yoga class a couple of years ago.
José, one of the mechanics at Mellow Motors, gave me a ride home in a plush Mellow Motors Volvo. I pointed out the perfect timing of this incident and how wonderful it was that I had to wait two hours for the AAA truck because it meant that I’d have to miss a boring teleconference with my co-workers.
“Cosas malas vienen para bien,” he said.
Once home, I responded to my manager’s e-mail, something about a pending deadline, blah blah. Immediately after clicking Send, I glanced at my computer’s clock. 11:21. Curses! The phone conference had just started. I had no choice but to call in now. I had ruined my otherwise perfect morning.