This is How We Celebrated Our 35th Anniversary

I was walking to the parking lot in the school today. The sun was shining. A warm ocean breeze was blowing. The smoke from all the wildfires was temporarily gone. And it was FRIDAY! The Friday before the FCAT, but still Friday. Life was GOOD!

I ignored the little signal from my bladder that signified that attention should be paid to bodily needs soon. After all, I’d be home in half an hour or so to start my weekend! I did NOT want to walk back across the parking lot to the school. No. I stopped on the way home to pick up a card for my dear husband and made the decision to ignore my bladder, bypass the road that went to my house, and continue on to son’s house to care for his livestock before returning to mine to hurry up and feed the livestock before dark. Maybe we would be able to go out! Together! But today was Friday the 13th. There SHOULD have been Jaws-type music playing in the background but unfortunately, my life doesn’t have a soundtrack to let me know what’s comin’.

So, there I was, drivin’ down the road, when suddenly it struck me that I was not going as fast as I ought to be. The service engine soon light was on. Apparently it wasn’t kidding, because the engine quickly cut out and so did my steering and brakes. Dang, I HATE when that happens! Luckily I was on a straight, flat road, frantically trying to restart the engine. The engine would restart, giving me brakes and steering for a bit but no power, then would produce large backfires and cut out again.

Boy, was I was glad I recharged that cell phone last night! It is usually dead because SwampMan removed the place where I would recharge it the last time he fixed ol’ gray faithful vehicle, and I just don’t remember to plug the dang thing in at home.

I called SwampMan and left a message on his cell. I called the house and left a message on the phone. Dang. He might not be home or miss me until eightish, and maybe not then. I called daughter, and she gave me his phone number at work. That number was programmed into my old lost phone, not my new phone that’s never charged. *sigh* He answered, listened to my plight, and said he’d be there in half an hour. Thank you, Knight in Shining Armor!

Knight in Shining Armor arrived, backed up, and attached a tow strap. “Uh, hang on there! I have NO steering or brakes!”

“It’ll be okay. I’ll go slow. I’ll signal you when you need to slow down. Go ahead and try to keep it running so you’ll have steering and brakes.” Wait, what? I put the van in neutral and started it up, sort of. He got into his truck, slammed the door, checked the mirrors, and took off into traffic. The van immediately died. HOLY SHIT! He had a short tow strap that looked like I was about 5′ away from the bumper, although I realized it was probably 10′. I was drifting all the hell over the road, trying to start the vehicle and keep from hitting vehicles in the other lane while drifting over into the other lane all at the same time. I was looking at my husband in his rear view mirror screaming at him with exaggerated lip movements so that maybe he could see “NOOOOOO! STOP! THIS IS NOT WORKING!” while simultaneously making cut gestures across my throat. He gave me the “you’re doing just fine” signal. I started running off the road on the left while trying to force the wheel right with all my strength. He finally pulled over on the grassy median on the left and coasted to a stop while I literally stood on top of the brakes to keep from hitting him.

“So what’s the problem?” he asked.

“What’s the PROBLEM?” I shrieked, my normally low pitched voice at least 2 octaves higher. “I can’t freakin’ steer the vehicle on a straight freakin’ road!” Although, in the interests of accuracy, I don’t think I actually said “freakin”.

“Geez, you are just sooooo excitable! It’s only a mile more down the road until we make the turn off to SwampSon’s house!”


“So what are you saying?”

“I’m sayin’ it’s Friday, and I ain’t killin’ nobody today. NO.” On Monday, of course, I wouldn’t have cared about death.

“FINE! Get in, we’ll go get the trailer.”

“And how are we going to get this bitch on the trailer, pray tell?”

“Well, you’ll drive it up….”

“No. If I could drive it up there, I’d drive the sumbitch HOME.”

“Fine. We’ll get a tow truck, then.” Fantastic. That’s what I wanted to begin with. I stumbled to the truck. I’d put so much effort into steering and braking that I was shaking all over and could barely walk.

We went to an automotive place to get a tow truck which may or may not be able to get my vehicle because the tow truck was having mechanical difficulties. SwampMan left my keys anyway, then took me by SwampSon’s house so I could feed his animals. By that time, my bladder was about the size of a basketball, and I swear urine was starting to leak out my ears.

I finally got home to empty my bladder, then we went to get a longer tow strap just in case I actually had to steer that thing home, then went to the van to unload some feed. The tow truck driver called about then to inform us that he was at our house and where the heck were we? YAY! Saved by the truck driver!

We got home, and the tow truck driver was talking to our neighbors. Seems the little 3-year-old girl that usually waits for me to come driving up each evening so she can show me her dress, or her jewelry, or her shoes, and tell me about her day completely freaked when she saw MY VAN on top of a truck with me nowhere around, and she ran screaming and crying into the house to get her Papa and her Daddy and her Momma and her Nana because my van was there and I was missing. I assured her that I was perfectly okay but the van needs a doctor.

“What happened?” they asked. “I dunno! I was driving down the road, and then suddenly it just quit!” “That’s EXACTLY what happened to mine!” the neighbor said. This is not a good thing. I’m using hers for spare parts while she drives a new vehicle.

Daughter said something to the effect “Well, it’s about dang time you got something better to drive!” but I pointed out to her that if it weren’t for SwampSon paying me to look after his place, I wouldn’t be able to afford the gas to go back and forth to school now! How in the world will I be able to support a vehicle payment? *sigh*

Well, SwampMan got us some take out BBQ for our romantic dinner. I got some of the livestock fed and watered before dark, and I’ll get the rest tomorrow morning, then SwampMan and I will try to figure out what’s wrong with the patient. I’m thinkin’, with the age of the vehicle, something with emissions like maybe the catalytic converter, and he’s thinkin’ a fuel problem.

D’OH! Another weekend all shot to hell. Poor SwampMan won’t get to get started building his bicycle unless we can find out the problem quickly.


9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kcduffy said,

    Happy Anniversary! Y’know, if romanticism was a requirement of a happy marriage, there wouldn’t be ANY of us who make it past 3 years.

    My little Dodge had to have a new computer a couple months back – refurbished, from eBay, I think.

    • 2

      swampie said,

      Well, the ol’ replacing the fuel filter trick that Swampman always does FIRST because it’s the easiest had the same result as usual–nothing. On the other hand, I have a new fuel filter! Next stop…checking exhaust output, EGR valve, and vacuum lines.

      • 3

        kcduffy said,

        Yeah, he did plugs, distributor cap, and anything else he could think of on the Dakota, PRAYING the computer finally fixed it because that would mean a huge expense while someone tore my truck apart because of where the fuel pump is located. Whew! Runs like a little gem, now!

    • 4

      swampie said,

      If it isn’t fixed by Monday, SwampMan will be taking me to school.

  2. 5

    swampie said,

    Well, we’ve found and replaced more things it wasn’t. Not so much success on what it was, though. We’ve replaced the fuel pump before; SwampMan had to drop a full gas tank for that one!

    • 6

      kcduffy said,

      That’s the part Duffy said he couldn’t do – and REALLY didn’t want to pay $65/hr for a mechanic we know to do it, so he was thrilled the computer fixed the problem. It also got new power steering rack, new serpentine, new tires…and now it has a custom kayak rack, which just cutes the dang thing RIGHT up.

    • 7

      kcduffy said,

      And being able to look things up on discussion groups on the computer REALLY helped a LOT!

      • 8

        swampie said,

        Doesn’t it, though? I was SURE it was the ignition coil from the description of the problem. But nooooooo. We would’ve tested it but the ohm meter prongs were too big for the openings.

        Hell, maybe ours is the computer, too. The Bad Thing is that we aren’t getting any computer codes.

      • 9

        swampie said,

        SwampMan said he is SICK of my van, and I have to get another vehicle. Well. That would be nice but the payment for a new vehicle would mean that I’d be “clearing” about $100 per week then, out of which I’d have to buy things like clothes, gas, lunch, various kid stuff that isn’t provided, and more expensive insurance. Then, of course, after THAT was all paid for, I’d be able to contribute toward household expenses.

        Doesn’t really seem all that worth it.

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