Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LCC Part 1: or Getting There ISN'T Half the Fun

But before I launch into that story, I have to confess. My To-Be-Read Shelf, which had begun to decline in the last two months and to which I had vowed not to add another book until I was below 25 titles, has grown exponentially over the weekend. It's now at 51. Good thing I don't have any cats or small babies that could be crushed by toppling unread books.

To drive, to talk, to eat, perchance to have fun . . . That was my vision of this road trip to Los Angeles. After all, since my friend Katie had to abandon me for a full-time teaching job, we don't often get an uninterrupted hour to talk, let alone ten hours. She even took half a day off on Tuesday so we could arrive in LA at a decent hour.

What is it they say about best-laid plans?

Three hours into the drive, we stopped for gas. I might point out that we had my husband's car, a 2008 Honda CRV that I am much more particular about than my eight-year-old minivan. I filled it up, bought some Doritos and wax donuts for the road, and hit play on Buffy: The Musical to sing along with.

We had just made it into the second song when the car started coughing. It's the only way I can describe it--a sort of stuttering, catching-its-breath, not sure if it's going to choose to keep going or give up all together sort of cough.

I had a very bad feeling.

There was a sequence of good events right here: the fact that I was nearly at an exit (the last exit before a 30-mile stretch of desert emptiness), the fact that the car never entirely quit on me, and the fact that there were two auto shops at aforementioned exit.

Bad event? We chose the wrong one.

Worse event? They were slow and not particularly helpful when we told them we had to be in LA at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. About the third time someone said we might have to spend the night, I wanted to scream.

Most laughable event? After more than two hours, the last bit spent on speaker phone with my husband, our personal mechanic, and the shop-from-molassesville trying to decipher the code they'd pulled off the car's computer (while my husband googled the code, I said in a foreboding tone, "I think that's exactly what the mechanics here were doing half an hour ago." Not calculated to inspire confidence)--and after agreeing to let them change the oil (primarily because they couldn't think of anything else)--watching someone who, for all I know, was from the Wal-Mart across the street bring in a can of oil THAT THE SHOP HAD TO SEND OUT FOR! I would have run screaming into the night at that point except my friend was wearing flip-flops and it had snowed three inches where we had stopped.

Bless my husband, the organizer-extraordinaire. Within an hour of getting him on the phone we were being picked up by an extremely nice girl from a local car-rental agency who helped us transfer our belongings (many of them shoes) into a cute little silver two-door and sent us on our way (three hours late, but relieved to be out of that town.) The next morning, thanks to my husband's skills, the closest Honda dealer (30 miles away) sent up a tow truck to take in the CRV and fix it under cover of warranty. Katie and I were reunited with the car on Sunday afternoon as we drove home from LA. I forced myself to listen once more to Buffy: The Musical and drew a deep breath once we passed the fateful song where we'd stalled out five days earlier.

Getting there was not half the fun. But at least it gave a good story. What else could I ask for?


Grumble, grumble.

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