Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Swift Current: Kryptonite for Tercels
Okay, so for most of the weekend I thought that this first story was going to be my big "my car broke down in Swift Current" story. I'd made so many notes to myself to check the fluid levels in my car before I left, but then I got going late because I had to wait until it stopped raining (my windshield wiper has never been the same since the infamous episode), and it was still really windy outside. I forgot.
When I was pulling into Swift Current (about two and a half hours away from Regina), my car started acting funny. So I pulled into the first gas station, to have my car stall when I tried to use the clutch! It turned out that my clutch fluid was right down to dry, and I was almost out of oil. Wow. My clutch went out in Swift Current: bad, but it would have been worse if I was in the middle of nowhere.
So, my car worked decently well for the rest of the weekend. I had a good time in Eatonia, which I shall recount at a later time. As I was driving toward Swift Current, I started getting tired and I decided that I would stop for a rest when I pulled into the city. The wind picked up and it started raining, and so I was even more convinced to pull over. And then my car started driving roughly. I pulled over at the first gas station.
I kept thinking that I had fixed the problem, would leave a gas station, only to discover that things were worse. At the second gas station, I phoned my Dad and he, along with a nice man who stopped to help, helped me to fill up my coolant and check the radiator (it seemed like it was overheating). That seemed to be fixed, and so I got back out on the main road, to find that everything was even worse! I was scared my car wasn't even going to make it to Canadian Tire.
I got to Canadian Tire, to discover that there wasn't a mechanic in the city who could look at my car that day. I called all over, and kept calling my father, and was quickly falling apart. That's when I met the pastor of my friend Kathryn's church in Herbert (near Swift Current). He and his wife had a tire blow-out and were picking up their car. He asked me if he could help, and what was wrong. I ended up breaking down crying in the middle of Canadian Tire, telling him the whole story. This nice couple offered to drive me as far as Herbert, if that would help with bussing. I didn't end up taking them up on that offer, the way things turned out, but they calmed me down and helped me figure things out.
Long story short, I ended up bussing from Swift Current, because the 4:30 bus to Regina broke down in Maple Creek and was an hour and a half late, meaning that I didn't have to wait until 9:00pm for a bus.
Lessons I learned in Swift Current: apparently, I have no coping skills, when I'm all alone and having to make big decisions. I forgot even that I had a roommate who could pick me up from the bus depot (my dad couldn't, and he suggested Meg). All I could think was I needed my parents. I felt very young and very alone, and very ignorant about car things. Took me down a few pegs from my earlier bravado, after fixed my clutch and got back on the road in record time.
But the main lesson I learned is that God's got my back. My car didn't break down in the middle of nowhere (which is essentially where I would've been if my car had broken down within the hour previous to arriving in Swift Current -- lots of nothing, and lonely road, before that). When I fell apart, all by myself in a city where I know no one, I really wasn't alone. Everywhere I went, kind people materialised to help me and to comfort me. Complete strangers. At the bus depot, I had the companionship of the kindest old lady, who talked with me and cheered me up.
The moral of the story: don't try to drive older Toyotas through Swift Current. Maybe the cars can tell that the city has no Toyota dealership, and outside of the one big box store, few people know how to fix them in that city. When I called the Chrysler mechanic (I was getting desperate), he pretty much laughed at me, and I could hear a mechanic in the background saying, "I wouldn't even know what a Toyota looks like on the inside!"
Update: I just talked to the guy at Canadian Tire, who is sure that the problem is with my spark plugs and wires (no surprise -- they were supposed to be fixed two months ago) and the fix will be relatively cheap, quick and easy. And they're not going to charge me nearly as much as the Canadian Tire in Regina was going to charge. (Those pirates.)