This week, Monday did not go as planned.
On the way to dance class, which we were barely going to be on time for, my car suddenly said, "BING!"
Fancy thing, that car.
Last time it said, "BING!" was when it wanted more air in the tires, which Soccer Dad kindly did for me with his handy, dandy air compressor. So when I looked at the dash to see the reason for the BING, I was expecting something little. Like, "Hey, lady, did you notice that you drove a lot today? Don't you think a fill-up would be nice?" or "Hey, lady, it's time to something about the low washer fluid." Something benign.
Not to be. On Monday, BING! meant, "WHOA, LADY!!!! I AM OVERHEATING ALL OF A SUDDEN HERE!!!"
This is not what I want my car to tell me. Ever.
I pulled into a parking lot and turned on the heat. (It was a little chilly, anyway, what with the sun going behind the mountains.) The guage went down a little, so I cautiously pulled back on the road, trying to remember where the hazard lights are in my car. (Why, oh why, can't the location of that thing be standard on all cars?) The guage stayed down for a little bit, but I kept my eye on it, and before I'd gone even 1/4 mile, it was up in the red again. I got ready to pull into another parking lot (with lights, thankyouverymuch) as it went, "BING!" again. I was VERY nervous, especially since the guage was right up at the top of the red by now. (Please, God, don't let the engine sieze! I thought desperately.)
I pulled under a light, cut the engine, and popped the hood. Reservoir tank...reservoir tank...where do they put that in this car???!!!??? Oh, next to the radiator. Brilliant!
No steam was coming from under the hood. I didn't smell antifreeze. Hmmmmm...
The girls and I sat in the car, a mere three miles from the dance studio, waiting for the engine to cool off a little again. Once it was below the half-way mark on the guage, I closed the hood and tried again.
I made it less than 1/4 mile before pulling into the next parking lot I could find. No lights whatsoever, but it was a parking lot as opposed to the shoulder of the road.
I looked at the girls, who were waiting quietly in the back of the car. "Little Girl, we are not going to make it to class tonight," I said.
"That's okay, Mommy. I know my dance for the show." What a sweet child!
I called my husband, thinking that maybe I could call the local Advance Auto Parts and see if someone could run some antifreeze to me. (I was less than two miles from the nearest store.) He was finished with his class in Boston, I knew, but he wasn't answering his phone! I left a message.
"Hi. Call me immediately." click.
I tried again, in case he just missed it. No answer. I left a text page with a callback number.
***-**** 911 911 click
I waited a couple of minutes, then turned the key to see what the guage said. It was still much too high, and I still didn't smell coolant. ARGH! I called again. No answer.
"Hi, it's me again, please call me as soon as you pick this up." click
Finally, I remembered something. I have friends!! Seriously, this is a relatively new concept to me. I have people who are my friends who will help me if I call them. When I lived in Florida near my family, I'd call them. "Daddy, I need help and Nathan is out of town!" Tah-dah! But I'm 700 miles away from my family.
I call a friend who lives only about half a mile from where I am (which also is, incidentally, about a mile and a half from my own home). She's home, and she's not busy! She comes to help us out by driving me to Advance Auto so I can buy antifreeze. Before she leaves with the girls and I, I pop the hood again and open the reservoir tank. With a little trepidation, I stick my nose right into the opening and sniff. No coolant smell. That is not good.
It's now been a little more than half an hour, and the girls have so far been sitting quietly, talking quietly, and reading together in the back of the car. They now buckle themselves into my friend's car and wait for me while politely talking to our friend.
After I put the hood back down, we go to Advance and get the antifreeze I need. Back we go to the car, and I add the coolant while Big Girl holds a flashlight and the cap for the reservoir tank. I start up the car, the girls buckle up again, and my good friend follows me down the road as I try to make it to the dealer, which is about three miles or so away. The car seems to be staying cooler, but then, about two miles up the road, it starts to spike again. I pull into the bank's parking lot and park under a light. When I try to add more coolant, it pours out of the bottom of the car. Now I panic - but not too much. This is why we have an extended warranty, I remind myself. The most I'll pay is $100 to fix this thing. I call the free towing available while the girls sit in the back of my friend's car. They are still quiet, reading books and waiting patiently.
I ask for an ETA. It's now 7:10, and we are usually on our way home to eat dinner. The chicken is in the crock. The girls are hungry. Little Girl's dance class is over and we still haven't gotten up to that point on this street. I am less than four miles from my home!
The nice man on the help line comes back and tells me the ETA is 60 minutes. Okay...
I tell my friend, and let her know that I'll have no ride home from the dealership, either. I hate to impose, but I still need her help. My first idea was that she could take the girls home and feed them, but since our small town rolls up the sidewalks at 8:00, and the dealership will be closed by the time we get there, I ask her if she can stand to be out longer and wait it out with us. She says absolutely. (I have to say right here that I am so grateful to God for friends like this. She had already been out with me for about 40 minutes, and we had at least another hour to go.)
Thank God, the bank is adjacent to Sonic. I lock the car, leave the hood up, and we go there for a quick dinner. I convince the girls to share the popcorn chicken and have water, and I eat their french fries and drink their soda. They agree, and eat neatly and (still) pretty quietly. They make polite conversation when we ask them things, and they basically let me talk to my friend with very few interruptions or interjections. Just before the hour is up, we pull back over to the bank and wait for the tow truck, which arrives just on time.
Again, the girls wait politely, and the only time I'm reminded of how old they are is when Big Girl decides to ask me a question while I'm trying to sign the paperwork for the tow. Then she hops right back into my friend's car. (I think the question was, "Mom, wouldn't it be so cool if we could ride in our car while it was on the flatbed truck?!?" I'm pretty sure I agreed it would. I've always wanted to ride in a vehicle being towed like that.)
Now the girls have been in the car (either ours or our friend's) for more than two hours.
We finally get the car to the dealership, fill out the paperwork, drop the keys, and my friend drives us home.
And still, the girls are well-behaved.
About a mile and a half from home, they get a little bit silly and start making pigeon noises and gargling with their water. I remind them that it's against the rules and that I'm not going to be happy if they spit water in the car. Big Girl says, "I'm sorry," (so does Little Girl) and then, "We are getting SLAPHAPPY!" They dissolve into giggles at this word, which sounds as silly as they feel.
Finally, about three hours after we left for dance class, we arrive home. I thank my friend again and again and again, the girls zip off into the house, and I realize that they have been amazingly well-behaved. No fits, no arguments, only that one admonishment about the water...they didn't even complain. (They "camped out" with a blanket for a while, they thought it was such an adventure!)
I thanked God right then for my friends, but also for the two wonderful children He blessed me with. I couldn't ask for two better girls than the ones I've got. And I made sure I told them so. And I keep telling them so.
They are the best. girls. ever.