I made it to Kelowna… just
I own a lemon.
I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I know other people who own cars and a bunch who have trucks. I even know some people with a mini van.
Not me, though. I bought a $30,000 piece of citrus fruit.
I woke up this morning with a few minor errands to take care of before leaving for Vancouver but had hardly left my house when I noticed the RPMs sputtering whenever I idled.
Considering this car – a Nissan Sentra S-ER Spec V (DON’T GET ONE, DON’T GET ONE, DON’T GET ONE) – has been to the mechanic almost every six weeks, on cue, since the warranty expired, I was hardly surprised to see the Check Engine Soon light go on as soon as I hit the driveway.
I’ve heard some people find out their gas cap is loose after inquiring about this light but for me, Check Engine Soon always means pull over now because you’re out four figures if you go one kilometre further. I’m not sure whose idea it was to put ‘Soon’ on there but I bet he’s a riot at staff functions.
What I do know about this light, however, is without its all-knowing guidance I would be hooped. I can’t even rely on the telltale rattling sound to tip me off because I listen to music like a deaf teenager when I drive.
In my 32-and-one-half years on this rock I’ve learned some things, and every once in a while I can even convince some poor shmuck that I know some things. But somewhere along the way I let what goes on under the hood of a car elude me.
I totally meant to take the steps toward figuring some of that stuff out but whenever it came time to learn I was always hampered by the fact I literally couldn’t care less. However, while I anticipate never having the interest to actually get involved, I am fully aware I will forever be reminded of how stupid my theory is.
Anyway, it’s needless to say but I hit panic mode pretty instantaneously, seeing as I was just about to embark on a 1,200 km drive to where only the biggest three weeks of my entire life is waiting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are about 6,000 athletes with more riding on these Games than me but how does a writer, with an obsession for sports, pass up the Olympics when they just handed over a media pass?
First things first though, can I drive my car? A quick phone call to the service manager at Nissan, who likely dreams of the relieving feeling of thumb screws whenever he hears my voice anymore, and off to the dealership I went.
Now, you might ask why I would be going to the dealership with my post-warranty car but I have good reasons.
No. 1, the same inadequate engineer in Japan who wasn’t smart enough to design this engine correctly was still intelligent enough to put all kinds of parts in it, which aren’t compatible with anything else.
And No. 2, through all of this nonsense I’ve had to deal with, these Lethbridge guys have always tried to help me out. I thought at first it might be their mistakes causing my constant return but I can say with all confidence they are not the reason my car sucks.
But, regardless of how it became this way, the car does suck and the best guess I could get from Nissan was that everything should to be OK for getting to Vancouver and back but there was no way to know for sure.
Well, there was one way but it might not have revealed itself until I was stuck on the side of a road, halfway up a mountain, just on the other side of a bend, with a semi barreling around the corner. And then the answer would be rather moot anyway.
Enter the good doctor.
Thanks to the generous and brave nature of my veterinarian roommate, who has volunteered – reluctantly I’m sure – to trade me cars for the rest of February, I was able to get on the road.
But that still leaves one of us driving my car for three weeks, with nothing but probable-false hope to rely on for comfort. And it’s the one of us who has to explain death to a pet owner when they are unable to make it to the clinic on time, so the stress level is elevated for sure.
However, the good news is I’m finally in Kelowna. I can’t imagine I’m ever getting on the highway for nine hours through the mountains, in the dark, in the snow ever again. But I am here.
And by early afternoon Thursday I’ll be in downtown Vancouver getting my media pass for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Then the craziest 17 days of my life will begin.
Just please be a new kind of crazy.