I have owned four or five cars in my life. The uncertainty in numbers is because I am still in transition.
Anyway, I have a bit of a habit with cars. It seems I generally buy them from family members. Its not that I plan that to happen, it just happens that when the "I need to get a new vehicle" bulb goes on in my brain, the yin and yang of the world spins and a family member has need to offload and heigh-ho, everybody's problem is solved.
My first car was my sister's first car. And the first part of the saga involves "Tess" (hey, a girl's car has got to have a name), a wedding, a fateful decision - and a disaster.
Twenty-two years ago, I was making an awesome blue suit for a wedding that I was set to go to. I had a tendency, in those days, to make my own clothes in my own style, and I was quietly quite impressed with my awesome blue suit, but getting a little tired and a little hungry and, rather than down tools to address kitchen issues, I made THAT decision.
Fast-food. Designed, I justified, for moments like this. Drive-thrus. Ideal for a girl in paint-spattered house-clothed, unbrushed hair and barefeet to economise on "getting ready to face the world" time.
It had been timed, and it only took 7 minutes to get from where I lived to where such an outlet was, and I grabbed my keys, my purse and gave myself for 15 minutes of reprieve from pins and needles.
5 minutes into that drive, a car jumped out of nowhere and peeled back the 4 passenger side panels of my darling little car.
My car d'jour isn't actually my car. Well, not yet. My car, which was my aunt's car, is a sedan - and the combination of baby and sedan and long weekends to my extended family is somewhat limited.
My parents have recently upgraded their own car, but failed to trade in their old one - a station-wagon. As of Monday, I have been testing their older car to see if it suits.
Friday was one of my "three client" days, and by the time I was on my way to my third job, I had been required to add several words to my phone dictionary just to describe one bank encounter ("nazis", "effigies" and "serene") and was running an hour late.
I went to the bank (because the above encounter was unsuccessful - the "serene" was tongue in cheek) and actually wandered INTO the food court before thinking "hmmm"...
Fast-food. Designed, I justified, for moments like this. Drive-thrus. Ideal for getting my passenger-seat filing done while waiting for service.
The first story involved police, a race riot, the fraud squad and a packed pub full of onlookers.
Friday's story was nowhere near as spectacular - but in its own way, indeed easily as embarrassing.
I had collected my toy and softdrink and was waiting patiently at the last window for my kid's meal (heck, I am the QUEEN of self-justification) and the car stalled.
A slight worry, but I grabbed the box of food and started the engine.
It stopped. I started it. It stopped. Hmmm. Not so simple.
Luckily, the kitchen at McD is filled with energetic youths designed to push a broken-down car. Unluckily, it was peak hour so no parks, the car had no power so no power-steering and so I ended up in the waiting bay. Where everyone going through the drive-through gets to go past - slowly. Where everyone chosing to walk into the store gets to walk past - slowly. Where all the traffic going in - and out - of the establishment gets to go past. It did seem as if they all did so slowly.
I am a member of the RACQ, the state-wide breakdown service - one of those no-brainer decisions made when I got my first car. Unfortunately, I am a common member, which means they offer me roadside service - for my car.
My father is a member of the RACQ. He is an elite member entitled to service for any car he is driving.
Fortunately there was an operator on the other end of the line who was understanding enough to bridge that bureaucratic gap, and I was told to expect a man within the hour.
An hour is plenty of time to eat all of your kids meal. Plenty of time to do your passenger-seat filing. Plenty of time to people watch. Plenty of time to text your husband with new words for the phone dictionary.
Luckily, an hour was enough time for a knight in the guise of the RACQ man to make it to McD, and I am sure he had a chuckle on the way in to investigate my predicament.
He had a post-chuckle look on his face as I popped the hood and explained the scenario and my laymen diagnosis (because we all know what a blocked fuel-line sounds like, don't we?).
He had the hide to suggest I might have run out of fuel (ha! This car has a "distance to empty" measure and we had only just entered double figures) and agreed to listen to my problem non-verbally.
Well, you know what happened next, don't you?
I got back into the driver's seat, he had his head over the engine, I turned the key, the car started and...
The darn thing stayed started.