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"If I had to nail down the objective of my historical tourism, it's probably to collect evidence in support of my motto. And my motto in any situation is 'It Could Be Worse.' It could be worse is how I meet every setback. Though nothing all that bad has ever happened to me, every time I've had my heart broken or gotten fired or watched an audience member at one of my readings have a seizure as I stand at the podium trying not to cry, I remind myself that it could be worse. In my self-help universe, when things go wrong I whisper mantras to myself, mantras like 'Andersonville' or 'Texas School Book Depository.' 'Andersonville' is a code for 'You could be one of the prisoners of war dying of disease and malnutrition in the worst Confederate prison, so just calm down about the movie you wanted to go to being sold out.'"

from "God Will Give You Blood to Drink in a Souvenir Shot Glass," in The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell

When your mechanic tells you that you have a hole in the top of your radiator and that your radiator needs to be replaced sooner rather than later, understand "sooner" to mean "as soon as we're off the phone with you," and have them do so. Do not schedule it for four days later, put 30 miles going to and from work that same day, and put another, say, 20 miles a couple days later driving on the hilly streets and highway around Seattle.

Otherwise, the day before the radiator is scheduled to be replaced, you may find yourself stuck in the left lane of a busy 40+mph road in Redmond with an overheated car, hoping no one rear-ends you. And you may find yourself, much later that same day, praying that you make it over that western riser on 520 and just a little farther to that spot you can pull off just before your exit, so you can let the car sit for nearly an hour and cool down again. And you may find yourself wondering, at 12:30 in the morning, whether it's even worth it to try walking back to the car where it's parked at the bottom of the big hill on Union, after overheating a third time, to try driving it over Union so and getting it to the garage just a block away from home where it's scheduled for the replacement, or whether you should give in and just get it towed.

Update: made it back! with me urging my car all the way, "come on baby, you can make it, this is the tricky part and then it's all downhill, good girl..." Now hopefully I haven't done horrible damage to my car today and it's still "just" the relatively cheap radiator replacement...



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Mar. 8th, 2005 11:42 am (UTC)
that's really sad because I've been shopping around for cars and I keep saying how awesome your car is for still kicking ass after all these years and having driven to the west coast and all.

...and obviously i haven't told you any stories about Wildcat Transit and what happens to drivers who don't go get something checked out as soon as they notice a problem (or drivers who don't bother to check). our only remaining 22 year old bus broke down the other day when the leaf springs (major suspension component) completely shattered- somehow at least 3 or 4 drivers totally failed to notice the 15 degree tilt to the left side that the bus had all day, so now the bus is going to be out of service for months.

this is why we can't have nice things.
Mar. 11th, 2005 08:50 am (UTC)
Well, my car IS ten years old now, and it's actually still in pretty good shape. This is more or less just typical wear and tear, as far as I understand. Heck, as far as that goes, I don't believe I have ever replaced the exhaust system, and if I were still living back East, I bet I would've had to do that this year, because the sand and salt on the roads in the winter rust out those parts sooner.
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