It started off innocently enough. “Come to Moncton. You need a night out.” Yup, I most certainly did. So I packed up my stuff and drove for about 90 mins. Along the way, I listened to my iPod through my newly installed integrated auto charger / player. I really need to come up with a driving playlist. But it was all good. I kept thinking of the night ahead. Have a few drinks. Play some video games. Eat some pizza. Perhaps a little texas hold’em. Maybe go out. Nothing too crazy, though. I bought that nice treadmill, and I had just enough funds in my operating account to get me through to payday. No problem. I really did need that night out.
Things don’t always go as planned after the Captain arrives at the party. The pizza was great. Papa John’s, as usual. Texas hold’em was an exercise in frustration. I might as well have been playing Lotto 6/49. I think my chances of a payout would have been greater. A few drinks turned into a few more. By the time we went out, it was pretty well time to come back again. (Although, if memory serves me correctly <and that’s a big if> The Old Triange Ale House was actually a very nice spot, and I’d like to go back there sometime… perhaps a little earlier in the evening)
Eventually it was time to pack it up, and after a short rest, I decided to get an early start on the drive home. I had the tunes on full blast. I left Moncton with the wind at my back, and nothing but open highway ahead of me.
8:13am… the radio suddenly stopped. Oh shit. This is not good. This reminds me of last year with all my alternator problems…
I was quite litterally in the middle of nowhere. Moncton was behind me. Fredericton was ahead of me. I wasn’t close to either of them. I wasn’t close to anything. No town. No gas station. Nothing. I tried to convince myself that it was simply a problem with my radio and iPod charger system. Maybe a wire had gotten loose? I didn’t really believe it, but there wasn’t much I could do other than place some misguided faith in that particular theory. The car seemed to be handling normally. It wasn’t losing power like it had done the other time. Maybe I could ride it out.
Then she started to shudder, and I watched helplessly as the speedometer needle moved steadily toward zero. I pulled over, and just sat there for a few minutes in silence. I was screwed. I looked around. There was nothing. No cliff to push it over. I considered lighting it on fire. Too subtle.
Thank God for cellphones! Obviously the first thing I did was call a tow truck, right? Oh no. First, I had to tweet. I know, I know… Then I called a tow truck, right? No. Then I downloaded the new Yellow Pages app, which I’d been seeing on TV commercials lately. I tried the “use currently location” function to tell me where the nearest tow truck company was. For some reason it was giving me numbers for companies that I knew weren’t what I wanted. I checked the Map app for my exact location. Then I called my friend back in Moncton and asked him to give me the number for a tow truck in Salsbury. I was way past Salsbury, but I figured that it was probably the closest. In hindsight, I think Petitcodiac was probably the better choice, but it probably wouldn’t have made much difference. I had to have the car towed back to Moncton, and it was going to cost me an arm and a leg no matter where they originated from. (note to self: Call CAA this week and get a membership with them again! No more of this foolishness.)
I sat and waited for my knight in tow truck armour to come. And I waited. And I waited a little more. Then I started to doubt if I had given them my proper location or not. And while I waited, I txted friends who had noticed my initial tweets. It was somewhat comforting to be able to communicate with those people, and I thank them. Eventually a tow truck appeared in my rear view, and began to slow down.
Out of curiosity, he popped the hood to look at my alternator belt. That’s when we discovered a bit of a surprise under the hood. I’m no mechanic (ha!) but even I’m vaguely aware that the oil cap is supposed to be screwed on, and the oil works better when it’s not splattered all over the engine. I’m really not sure how that happened, except to say that I added oil about 2 weeks ago. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be that stupid as to not replace the cap, but anything’s possible. In either event, the cap was somehow still sitting loose on the engine, and the alternator belt was surprisingly not broken as I had suspected. Martin, as I eventually learned his name, loaded the car onto the back of the truck, and asked me where I wanted it to be taken. I stifled all the smart ass answers swirling around in my head, and told him that I was open to suggestions. It’s Sunday, and no place was going to be open. I might as well take it to Canadian Tire and let them do their hack and slash on it. So back into town we went.
A good 30-40 mins, and $200 later, my poor little Kia Spectra was sitting in the Canadian Tire parking lot, while one of their mechanics (who was actually not working today, but happened to be at the store for something, and was kind enough to take a quick look) hooked up some funky volt meter thingy and told me that my alternator was not charging the battery. The good news is that the battery appeared fine. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that it was replaced last year. But that’s as far as they could go without getting it into the shop… which wouldn’t happen until Monday.
Martin was kind enough to drop me off at my friend’s house, but for $200 I still think he got the better deal. I joke, but I can’t complain. I thanked him for his patience while the mechanic at Canadian Tire went over the car, and then as I had to get the paperwork all filled out. He was a very nice guy, and could have easily just dropped me and my car off and been on his way. I made sure that he knew I appreciated that he didn’t do that.
So I guess that I’m spending an extra day in Moncton. I really hadn’t planned on this. I have things that I’m supposed to be doing. Thankfully I have an extra day off this week, but I guess I just lost any additional productivity that I would have gained with that day.
And tomorrow they’ll see what the damage is, and hopefully I can be on my way without having completely drained my “rainy day” fund. But we all know the saying…
When it rains, it pours!