That the Subaru was shuddering violently even at Jackson’s posted 35 mph speed limit was not a good sign. That it only shuddered more violently on the highway was even worse.
“I wonder what the resonance frequency of a Subaru Outback is?” I mused out loud. Ethan chuckled nervously. We had just blown through Rock Springs and were 100 miles from any noticeable form of civilization, a position not uncommon for travelers trying to get through the bland southern Wyoming landscape.
But the vibrations kind of felt like a massage after a while, and they ran together so tightly after 75 miles per hour that they were hardly noticeable. We got to Denver without winding up as discrete Subaru parts flung across the highway. Still, I resolved to take her into the dealership the next day.
The nearest dealership to my house is in Aurora. As I’ve alluded to earlier, getting from my apartment to the ‘burbs is no quick errand, and the area in which the Shortline dealership is doesn’t lend itself to lingering for a few hours. Ethan and I were invited to visit the Village Inn while they figured what was causing the vibrations.
We went through one pot of coffee. Then another. Ethan had found a copy of the Denver Post, and we each went through the headline section, then Denver & the West, then the entertainment section. We were about a quarter of the way through the crossword puzzle–the New York Times puzzle, no less–when I finally got the fateful call.
“One of the tires cracked loose from its seal,” the cheerful voice informed me, “but it looks like they all need to be replaced. Also, both the front and back brakes are worn out, the drive belt has some tears in it, and the battery started leaking acid all over its casing. That’ll of course need to be replaced, as will everything that got corroded.”
“Nnnngh,” I groaned.
“We don’t have an estimate on the tires yet,” the cheerful voice continued, “but the other repairs will total $956. Plus tax, of course.”
Ethan watched sympathetically as I audibly dropped my head to the table.
“One grand!” I shouted as Ethan guided me back up Havana, where the dealership would arrange for us to get a rental from Enterprise. “And that’s not even including the tires! I’m gonna need to sell this car to pay for its repairs!”
Ethan patted my back. “She’s four years old. We drove her a lot last year. You needed new tires anyway.”
Always reassuring, my boyfriend. I blame him for the stares we attracted as I wailed into his shoulder, attracting the stares of people waiting at the light.
The rental car, at least, got covered by the dealership. I was able to fork over $1550 and regain my car the next day. Not a moment too soon, as my other car, the one I had inherited from my mother and kept around mostly for sentimental reasons (and because it’s too old to fetch a decent price), needed to be moved out of my stepbrother’s garage. Since it had been in there for so long, it needed to be jumped.
I jumped it once and got it out of the garage and into the alley, where it died. I jumped it again and got it almost out onto the street. The third time, a combined team effort of my boyfriend, my stepbrother, and myself were able to get it moved to a parking spot along the street. That night, I joined AAA, which said they, like most health insurance companies, would not cover “preexisting conditions.” I resolved to wait two days before calling a tow truck.
Fortunately, the tow was free. Unfortunately, replacing the alternator and drive belt on this car would not be. “Second verse, same as the first!” I thought to myself as the mechanic totaled up the damage. $750.
“These cars better be fuckin’ indestructible!” I screamed to Ethan as I got off the phone.
“It could be worse,” he pointed out.
“Oh?” I said through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, remember how we took the cat to the vet yesterday? At least he didn’t need surgery!”
“Just two hundred dollars worth of diagnostic tests and pills,” I sighed, looking at the lovely scratches across my hands from where the cat dug his claws into me as I gave him said pills. He’ll need two a day for the rest of his life.
So I hope neither car needs replacement parts again for a good, long time. I also hope cars and cats can live well with only Ramen noodles as fuel, because such will be my lot in life for the next few months. We all know misery loves company.