Nothing is certain anymore. Nothing. Chaos is king and magic is loose in the world. 

That was the conclusion Robert A. Heinlein drew at the end of  his two novellas, “Waldo” and “Magic, Incorporated.” And the conclusion I drew at the end of the day. Yesterday.

It was just one of those days. Not catastrophic, but not good. I had a doctor appointment. The back doctor. They guy who gives pain-killer needles and we were on the road. I was a bit nervous. More than a bit. They were going to take an x-ray of my back. Inevitably, when someone looks at my spine, they get all weird.

My current home.

I tell people it’s bad but I suspect no one believes it could be that bad. Everyone thinks whatever is wrong with their back is the worst. But you see, mine really is the worst. It’s the kind of bad that makes experienced spine doctors’ jaws drop. There are so many things wrong with it, it inspires the comment “I’m amazed you can still walk.” This from people who should know better. But they look at the pictures and just can’t help themselves. It pops out of their mouths.

I was afraid the doctor would look at the x-ray and refuse to do anything. Because it’s such a godawful mess. I suppose that’s better than going ahead and doing further damage, though it’s difficult to see how much worse it could be. Forget I said that. It can always be worse.

We were on time. We’d arisen before dawn. Had coffee, did our e-mail. Just like the old days, except instead of coffee and a newspaper, we had coffee and a pair of laptops.

Garry went out, gassed up the car. We were on our way. A few miles down the road, the car began to chug and balk. An unfamiliar idiot light went on and it starting dinging. It wasn’t any of the familiar idiot lights. This one is orange and looks like a battery or an engine schematic. Not the “Check Engine” light. I know that one. The car had been running fine. For seven years, it ran fine. We gave it regular maintenance. It started, drove, stopped. Until yesterday.

We pulled over and did a couple of 360s. Looking for something hanging, like the exhaust? A flat tire? Despite no visual evidence, there was something seriously amiss. We turned around and went home, grateful the breakdown was on Route 146 and not the Mass Pike. It took a while to get home. Amazing how long it takes at 30 mph when you are used to driving more than twice that speed.

After we landed, Garry grabbed the shopping list and hopped into the other car — the 2002 Sunfire. We don’t drive it much anymore. Almost never in the winter because it doesn’t have snow tires. And it has been making a funny noise we can’t pin down. He took it to the grocery story, came back appropriately loaded down, and told me the inspection sticker expired in December. The holidays. The Sunfire’s inspection had slipped past unnoticed.

When Owen got home, I explained the Cruiser was sick … and the inspection on the Sunfire expired. Garry asked if driving without a current inspection sticker was okay and Owen said, “No, not really,” so Garry asked if the yellow car would pass inspection. Owen replied “No, the driver’s side windshield wiper isn’t working and it won’t pass until it gets fixed.”

The yellow 2002 Sunfire is everyone’s backup car. When Owen’s car won’t run, he drives the Sunfire. When Sandy’s car is in the shop, she drives the Sunfire. Ditto Kaity. But if something goes wrong with it, it is our problem. At the risk of sounding whiny, whatever goes wrong — house or car — it is always our problem.

I pointed out to Owen we were without transportation in a town which has no public transportation, not even a taxi service. Leaving us stuck with no way to get anywhere was unacceptable.

So … as the sun set in the west, the Sunfire was street legal, though the Cruiser — the car with the new snow tires — is not going anywhere. It appears (according to Owen), to be a computer problem. Probably the bastard child of the random electrical glitch we’ve had for years, the electrical ghost that makes windows lock open or shut and doors refuse to lock — or worse, unlock. The ghost in our machine.

And so the day ended, none too early for my taste. Today has not brought new revelations. The Cruiser remains broken. The Sunfire is running, but it’s old. Chaos is definitely king. Right now, we could use some of that loose magic.

Categories: Cars and Trucks, Daily Prompt, Humor, Transportation

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. So sorry to read about your day of chaos & especially your physical pain. I HEAR you. Sending you all the good juju I can muster & wishing you comfort.


  2. Even my jaws dropped like your spine doctor when I read the first few lines. I can understand your pain. Hopefully things will get better for you this year. We have recently shifted from sedan to SUV and bought Renault Duster, quite impressed with the performance. What I liked most in your chaotic day description is ‘whatever goes wrong — house or car — it is always our problem.’ so aptly said and felt.


  3. I am so glad we don’t have mandatory car inspections in Illinois. All my 98 Neon has to do is pass an emissions test every 2 years (which it always has) and it’s good to go. I doubt it’d ever make it out of some 169 point inspection without running up some four figure repair bill, though…


  4. I cannot hit the LIKE button. I am so sorry about your pain! It sounds awful!


  5. This is one of the reasons I moved into the city. Between buses and taxis, I can get just about anywhere I need to get to without having to rely on a car, even though I do have one. Anyway, good luck with the PT Cruiser (getting it running again) and with the old Sunfire (keeping it running as a back-up).


    • It’s just frustrating to be so trapped. If you don’t drive — or just don’t happen to have a working vehicle — in this area, you really are screwed. I envy anyone with access to public transportation!


  6. We have one car, a Skoda Fabbia, yes one of those East European rubbish cars which in the safe hands of Volkswagen are now perfect. I love it. We always drove Volvo, because Mr. Swiss worked for Volvo. The last Volvo had a ghost in the computer, so I know your problems. Suddenly the window would not open, we had to open the door with a real skeleton key because the remote would not open it. If it rained it was all wet and damp and then you really had problems, like me calling Mr. Swiss from some outpost, where I couldn’t open the car door. We love our Skoda, cheaper than the volvo, but it works, everything works (touch wood up to now). We don’t actually live in an outpost, we have a local train and can call a taxi, but I am too old to drag heavy shopping bags and call a taxi to take a cat to the vet. Good luck and may things be better.


    • I used to drive Volvos too, before they became fashionable and so very expensive. We don’t actually have dealers who sell those eastern European cars. We did, but they fell out of favor before they improved. We could really use a new car, but we can’t afford one. I’m sure this will get fixed, eventually, but they are predicting snow — today — of course and the little yellow 2002 Sunfire is very bad in snow.

      We are ALL too old to be traipsing around trying to hitch rides while hauling bundles. You’d think if the kids are going to borrow the car, they would mention that “oh, yeah, it needs to be repaired.” If they don’t fix it, at least tell us there’s something wrong with it. I hope they are wrong about the snow!!


      • Today we have the great thaw. Chunks of melting snow are falling from the roof. It sounds like an avalanche outside, but we are inside. It is raining, storms are predicted tonight, and tomorrow probably the snow will be gone.


  7. Seems inappropriate to ‘like’ when I understand the problem to closely from the inside.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “The Longest Day-Redux”. The yellow car is back in service, the Cruiser is on the DL and I am feeling absolutely CRAPPY — and we were doing everything right. Damn! The old man was right.


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