Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Wild Ride

Remember how I said I'd named my new car Phouka? Well, apparently it was more than just a whim. Here's the story of my journey to the Willamette Writers Conference two weekends ago.

On Thursday morning I'm sitting at the Ford place, my bags all packed and the car loaded, crossing my fingers that the correct replacement mirror will actually show up sometime before 2pm. The part arrives, they get my car right in and install it, I only end up paying $39.00 for the labor, and I'm on the road for Portland by noon. Great so far, right?

Well, then I get to Baker City, Oregon, fill up with gas at the local Chevron and head for the Taco Time to grab a quick lunch, which I eat quickly in the car while it's idling in the parking lot. Then a light in my dashboard Message Center starts flashing, toggling back and forth between the messages "check engine" and "check transmission." Oh, wonderful! Since the car's still running and functional, I head straight back to the Chevron station, beside which is a small repair shop called "Grumpy's Repair." They obligingly put their brand new diagnostic computer on my car and get an invalid code reading which the computer can't decipher. Then suddenly everything checks out fine. They take a glance at my transmission fluid and oil and can't find any problem with that, either. So apparently everything's fine and Phouka's simply been playing some odd little trick on me. And of course, there's nothing anyone can do about it unless it happens again. Just lovely. Oh, and I now owe Grumpy's Repair $50 for that computer diagnostic. YeeeHaaaw!

So I get back on the road, and when I reach Pendleton, I pull into the parking lot of the Burger King to grab more food, and I drive over one of those concrete bar things that are supposed to mark where your front wheels go. Only my undercarriage is so low that it scrapes right over the darned thing and the only way to get off it is to back up. This partially rips off the plastic air dam under my front end and it is now hanging down behind my right front tire. So I go to the trunk and get the roll of duct tape that for SOME reason I put in there the night before and tape the hanging plastic piece to the underside of the front bumper so it's not dragging on the ground. And I go on. Muttering to myself, shying at every new noise or rattle from the car. Trying not to think about THAT problem, and THAT problem, and THAT problem, and what could possibly happen next. I'm doing some pretty good mental compartmentalizing by this time. Fortunately I have a book on tape, which helps take my mind off all the bad travel Car-Ma.

Then I get to the Multnomah area and I hear a sharp CRACK, which is apparently a rock hitting my windshield, thrown up at me by the truck & trailer rig just in front of me. I'm still waiting for the dreaded crack to appear, and hoping that it won't. I can find no damage, but that could still show up at any time.

By the time I get to the hotel, I'm shaky, hot and bothered, and not in a good way. But I'm at the conference--finally. Oddly enough, the rest of the weekend went without a hitch and the trip home was completely uneventful. It even turned out that rather than me having to replace the air dam (which would have cost $95 plus labor) the nice guy in the parts department was able to re-bolt the thing up for me for free, and the only consequence of the mishap is a small tear in the right side of the air dam, which for the time being is not going to hurt anything. If it ever finishes ripping itself apart, I'll have it replaced, but in the meantime I have no desire to see my credit card go up in flames.

Upon hearing this story, one guy at the conference actually thought this was a pitch for a comedy screenplay. Eh? Any takers? We could call it..."Phoukatrails". Or maybe "Driving Miss Crazy." You want to write it up and sell it, be my guest.


Kaitlin said...

Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your blog. Your way with words is very interesting and very entertaining!

I'm an aspiring writer of romance, fantasy, and pretty much whatever strikes my fancy. :) Since I read just about everything, it kind of made sense to be that way.

I'm going to add your blog to my buddy list so I can keep up with your blog. I hope you have a great weekend & who knows, we might meet at a writer's conference someday!!! :)

KHurley said...

Sounds great! Glad to meet you, and good luck with your writing.

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