Monday, December 8, 2008

Needing Some Hail Marys

The saying absence makes the heart grow fonder is true for cars as well people, I can now report.

Ben and I are facing the prospect of sharing one remarkably unreliable car for the next two weeks while our one good car, the Scion, is in the body shop. It is finally its time to get the extensive hail damage from April repaired, and it may be in the shop for two weeks. Believe it or not, this is actually earlier than expected. Because of the thousands of cars in Fort Smith damaged by the golf-ball-sized hail here in that giant April storm, the body shops have been booked solid through well into next year. Our appointment was scheduled to be in February, maybe March (nearly a year after the storm), but Ben called a few days ago to see if there was an opening sooner, and they actually had one. 

That, plus the fact that the detailed estimate they gave us was lower than the insurance estimate, so we likely (fingers crossed) won't be out of much from our pockets for the repair, is the good news. 

The bad news is that during this very busy holiday season, for the next two weeks we have to share Ben's 17-year-old Honda Civic. Ben, always the noble one, drives it most regularly, and lets me drive the Scion XB we bought new just before I lost my job. The Scion is comfortable, cute, safe, reliable, spacious. The Civic is none of these, and though it drives passably well for Ben most days, it has a propensity for dying at inopportune times. Particularly, any time I drive it.

This morning, for instance, as we were (no joke) leaving the body shop and casting an eye towards a major wreck that had occurred minutes before a few hundred feet from where we were, the car died as we were pulling out on the street. The full length of it blocked two lanes of oncoming traffic just over the crest of a small hill as we attempted to get it started, had the gearshift lock up on us, then get it started again and try to keep it going as we dodged the oncoming traffic from two directions and the emergency vehicles already blocking traffic from the other direction. It was a minute or two of panic, topped off with almost getting hit by a firetruck rushing to the scene. It all worked out, of course, and though the car died exactly seven more times on the way home from dropping Ben off at work, I did in fact, get home safely. 

I will not be going out for lunch today.

Insurance reimbursement for car rental is not very much, so a rental for two weeks will get pretty pricey pretty fast. We're trying to see if we can finesse our scheduling so we can just share the Civic until the Scion is ready, but Project Clunkerpool did not get off to an auspicious start.

I'm not Catholic, but considering the nature of the storm that caused this problem, a few Hail Marys for Ben and me seems in order. We need all the help we can get. 

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