The Thing You Always Pray Will Happen But Never Actually Happens When You Have Car Trouble Actually Happened

I made an appointment for an oil change for 2:00. Then I began driving my car home. Suddenly, a horrific noise started coming from the engine area (what I think of as “the entire front of the car”). It was like a terrible, wrenching, grinding sound. I thought immediately of when my car died in Iowa City and had to be towed TO THE DUMP–it was a sound like that. Pulling over, white-faced, I tried calling my dad (classic) but his phone was off. So then I called the oil change guy back and said “Uh, this is weird, but as soon as I hung up with you my car started making this horrible grinding sound, what should I do?” And he said he wasn’t sure, but that probably I should just drive it slowly to the oil change place, because I was less than a mile away. I did this, the sound growing worse with every second.

Even though my appointment wasn’t for hours, the dudes immediately brought the car into the garage and started checking on it. I stood there awkwardly, dark fantasies of financial ruin and having to call my parents AGAIN about a destroyed car running through my mind. In this situation you’re always thinking “maybe it’s nothing! maybe it’s nothing!” But it’s never nothing. It’s always not only not nothing, but something way worse than the worst thing you had possibly imagined it could be. Ugh, why? Why? And me about to get my period!!

The mechanic came in to check on something in the computer. I said, timidly, “do you know what that sound was?” “OH yeah,” he said darkly, “you’re in BIG trouble.” “I am?” I said, quailing. He didn’t answer. He went back out. I went and sat weakly in the waiting room and looked at pictures of monkey eyes in Ranger Rick.

The mechanic came in to get me. “Okay,” he said seriously, “are you ready to see your big problem?” “Yes,” I said bravely. He held out his hand, like he was holding something. I held my hand out under it, and he dropped a tiny, tiny pebble into it. I stared at it. He burst into delighted guffaws of laughter. “Not really!” I said, “Yeah!” he said, “That’s all it was! I knew immediately when I heard that sound. It sounds so bad, but really it’s just that a little rock got wedged into exactly the right spot, and was rubbing. That’s what made that noise.” “So nothing else is wrong?” “Nope.” “Oh my god.”

Part of me was mad that he deliberately kept me in suspense and didn’t tell me what he clearly knew, but then part of me really respects his commitment to building my terror up to a fever pitch so that he could then deliver the blow of mercy and so delight himself, his co-mechanic, another girl waiting for a new air filter, and, eventually, me.



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One Response to The Thing You Always Pray Will Happen But Never Actually Happens When You Have Car Trouble Actually Happened

  1. ro6ot says:

    not to be all “so whatever happened to the golden ball” or nothin but
    WHERE IS THE EXACTLY RIGHT PLACE for the (pebble?) to get wedged eliciting automotive pseudo-death rattle?!?

    also hi five in the spirit of phew!

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