So Tom took Kate, my PT Cruiser, to the mechanic this morning.
Wasn't that nice of him?
He knows that I am not a morning person so he offered to do it.
I think he was worried that I'd scare people off. I am not pleasant first thing in the morning. I walk around with a scowl plastered on my face and I occasionally moan out that I'm tirrreed, I'm so very tiiirred.
"I'll just go. Then I'll call you with the verdict," he promised.
The phone rang around 9. I had called Tom at around 830 and his phone went straight to the answering machine.
"You know," I found myself snapping. "It's VERY rude to turn off your phone when I'm sitting here worried sick. How is Kate? Is she okay?"
I may have added a few curse words.
Tom called me back a few minutes later.
"Thanks for the lovely message," he said dryly.
"How is Kate?" I demanded.
Kate, my poor silver PT Cruiser. Kate, who has been leaking fluids for over a week now. Kate, also the name of a kick ass character in Lost.
But back to the main issue.
I sucked in my breath as I waited for Tom's response.
I was hoping that he'd give me a small number.
Instead Tom went, "It's going to cost around three grand to fix."
I burst out laughing.
As in 3 with 3 zeros after it?
"That's not funny, Tom," I said angrily. "You don't joke about things like that."
"I'm not joking," Tom insisted. "I'm looking at the paper they gave me right now. It's three grand."
I almost dropped the phone.
Instead, I burst into loud honking tears. I am not a delicate crier. You know how you see in those old timey movies how the female characters are neatly sobbing into a hankerchief?
Yeah, that's not me.
My tears are fat and disgusting and my face gets these red splotches all over it, snot pours from my nose and I usually end up wiping the mess off with my sleeve.
"Kate!" I wailed. "KATE!"
"Amber?" Tom's voice broke through my sorrow. I ignored him and continued carrying on like a mad woman.
"AMBER!" Tom shouted. "It's okay. We'll get you a new car. You know I've been wanting to get you a new car. The PT Cruiser isn't safe. It just isn't. It has no anti-lock breaks and no side airbags and..well..it's just NOT safe."
I swallowed hard and tried to calm myself. A huge tear splattered against the kitchen counter that I was leaning against.
I knew Tom was right.
Sure, we could fork over three grand to fix Kate. But it's true, she isn't safe to drive on icy roads. I went out once and nearly slid right into a lamp post. Kate was inches away from hitting it and I remember frantically trying to remember what I should do. Do I turn away from the sign? Do I take my hands off the wheel. Do I hit the brakes?
"NO!" Tom shouted when I relayed the story to him. "You NEVER hit on the breaks when you skid. That makes it worse."
But at that moment, I was just petrified that I was going to hit the pole.
Thankfully, as I said before, the car stopped about an inch away from it.
I was a little shaken but I figured Kate was having an off day.
We all have off days, right?
Of course after I told that story to Tom, he's been bugging me to let him get me a new car.
"But Kate is paid off," I'd remind him. "I don't want car payments again."
So he'd drop the issue because eventually I'd just give him an evil eye and hiss, "I am NOT selling my car and if you keep asking, you'll get none of THIS tonight." Then I'd gesture to my woman parts and that made him clamp his mouth shut.
Until now, that is.
Tom returned home about twenty minutes later. He brought in the paper that the mechanic had scribbled the numbers on.
Basically, our engine is shot. It still works now but it could break down at any time.
"How can this BE?" I wailed, staring at the paper. "Kate has NEVER given me any problems. She's just LEAKING. It's supposed to be a cheap fix! How can this BE??!"
Tom said nothing. He knows it's best to just let me carry on for a few minutes.
I went down the mechanic's list.
"He has MESSY writing!" I fumed, struggling to make out his words. "What does he know anyway? Why does he write here about a new timing belt? And why does a timing belt cost 1138.37? How do we know he wasn't smoking some shadoobie's the night before and is out of his mind?"
Tom remained silent. He wasn't sure if I wanted him to speak yet. Then he realized I was looking at him with a crazed expression and spoke up.
"Oh. I'm allowed to talk now?" he said, taking the paper from me. "Amber. Like I said before. Our engine is basically shot."
"It CAN'T be!" I shrieked. "It's running fine!"
Tom closed his eyes for a few seconds and laid the paper down on the counter. Then he rubbed his temples slowly. Apparently I give him headaches.
Well, excuse me.
But I don't get it.
I seriously don't.
My PT Cruiser has been running FINE. The leaking is the only issues it's been having. How is that an engine problem?
"Look," Tom spoke up, his eyes still closed. "I think we should go look at cars. It doesn't make sense to me to pay three grand on a 2001 car that isn't even safe. We might as well put that money towards a newer, safer car. It would make me feel better. Okay?" His eyes opened and he gave me a hopeful look.
I gave a long sigh. "I guess...."
And so, we all bundled into Kate and headed for a few dealerships.
We stopped at the Mazda one first.
The second we got out of the car we had a dealer swoop out of no where.
I mean, with the economy the way it is, I don't blame him. He was probably all, "Holy crap! A person! A PERSON! Land sakes a real live PERSON!"
"Can I help you find something?" he said enthusiastically. "I'm Dave. I can help!" He reached out and grabbed our confused hands for a shake and gestured to the lot. "If you want me to unlock anything, ANYTHING, let me know."
Um. Decaf, Dave. Decaf.
We looked around and nothing caught my eye. Tom would point out a car and I'd sigh and go, "It's not right."
After the fifth time he pointed a vehicle out and was met with a loud sigh, Tom began to grow annoyed.
"Do you not like ANYTHING?" Tom boomed, stretching his arms out.
"No," I answered. "All these cars are ugly."
And, okay, not all of them were ugly. But I like my car to have personality. These cars were all boring and....blah. I like my car to say, "Look at me! I'm cute and I love to shop and I'm not just a soccer mom!" You know?
Not "Hi. I'm just a car and I just go vroom vroom."
"So you don't see anything here?" Tom said, his voice growing testy.
"Nope," I replied.
So we headed back for our car and poor Dave looked dejected. He hung his head and tried feebly to get us interested.
"I have some newer models inside.." he attempted.
"No thank you, Dave," Tom said calmly. "The wife doesn't see anything she likes here."
Dave tried to meet my eye. "We have newer models..." but then he realized that I wasn't going to look up. I was pretending that my shoes were really really interesting.
Tom slid behind the wheel and turned Kate on. I was too upset to drive.
"Kate sounds fine," I said sadly. "Her engine doesn't sound sick."
"But it is," Tom said sharply.
"And also," I continued, crossing my arms over my chest. "I hate how you call me 'the wife.' As thought I'm 'the shoe' or 'the door.'"
I knew I was being difficult.
But I was so upset.
How could Kate be so sick?
Tom didn't even bother to respond to that. We just drove in silence and parked in front of the Toyota dealership.
"Blah. Puke," I muttered as I got out.
I didn't see anything there either. And I nearly got a heart attack when Steve the car dealer leaped out at us. Don't dealers STROLL OUT LEISURELY anymore?
I guess not with the economy in shambles.
"ICANSHOWYOUSOMEFANTASTICCARS!" Steve garbled out. It's like he was speaking quickly in case we suddenly disappeared on him.
"We're just looking," I said as politely as I could muster. My heart was still racing from him suddenly appearing in front of me.
"WEHAVESOMEGREATCARSTODAY!" Steve practically screamed.
"We'll just have a look," I repeated and started to walk away. But then a piece of paper was pressed in my palm.
"MYBUSINESSCARD!IFYOUSEESOMETHINGPLEASEASKFORME!STEVE!STEEEEVEEEE!" He even pressed a palm to his chest. I was tempted to joke and do the same and go, "I Amber. You Steve!" and thump my chest like a monkey.
But I didn't think Steve would find the humor in that so I just nodded my head.
There was nothing there that I liked either.
Tom tried to get me excited about a few cars.
"Blah," was my response.
"You are being awful!" Tom yelled, throwing his hands in the air. "Shopping with you is about as fun as it was to get my wisdom teeth removed."
"These cars have no personality!" I explained. "They're just sitting there all...all..car-like."
Tom rolled his eyes and said with clenched teeth, "Maybe because they're CARS!"
"They're boring," I insisted.
So we found nothing at the Toyota Dealership.
I honestly thought Steve was going to cry.
Our final stop was Honda.
As we pulled into the parking lot my eye caught something.
"Do you see anything here?" Tom asked, his voice laced with irritation. It was obvious that he didn't expect a positive response.
"Yes," I whispered.
Tom's eyes widened in shock. "What? Did you say...YES?" He gave a loud gasp.
And then, as though I were in a trance, I opened the door and headed towards her...
TO BE CONTINUED.