i was going to be married, 36 hours from now. my love affair with my car has been going strong for over 14 years, and i was going to acknowledge it in public, while making a statement about marriage, at the mass wedding at uts’ pride week. however we’ve just been mucked around. and the ceremony has been moved to a lawn, which is inaccessible for cars. sorry, they say.
11am on a tuesday was not an ideal time for people; my parents can’t make it. tim, my bridesmaid can’t make it. my photographer can’t make it. changing the time will be excellent, but will i have the guts to make a stand alone event of it?
it was suggested that i could show up with a photo of my car. that shows how much they think of the love of my life. it also reminds me of the humiliation of showing up to a birthday party at the bike track, with a bicycle photo frame in lieu of a real bike. i’d tried, i’d come to the party, literally and figuratively. but i still couldn’t ride the track.
it was supposed to be a stunt, but as i notify everyone that my wedding is postponed, i just feel hurt.
my car ran out of petrol again. in the blazing sun, in a bus stop in a school zone. at 3.15. there were swarms of schoolboys.
i was on my way to an interview. noone stopped for me as i walked a whole mile back to a servo, wearing a suit, carrying an empty gerry can. luckily someone there asked me if i had transport, and took me back to my car, directly out of his way. i then proceeded to spill most of the can full over my car and the bus zone, with said swarms of schoolboys watching my shaking hands, as they had watched my failed hitch hiking. fun.
but i got to the interview.
after a couple of hundred kilometres of driving, delivering bottles of wine around greater sydney all day for work, i was a little tired when i got back in my own car to drive to the hospital, not to mention late. as i passed the first petrol station i remembered i was running severely low on petrol already… i need to get around to tuning the bug since she’s been sitting around various garages for a month.
i figured i’d make it to the next one, but 0.9 miles down the road i felt a familiar loss of power in all gears, and managed to turn into a driveway. luckily it was a big one; i stopped right in the way with my front wheels touching the speed bump.
luckily i carry a gerry can these days, i got it out of the boot, locked the car and set off down the road. i wasn’t sure how far i’d come, but the servo wasn’t in sight. i crossed the road and stuck my thumb out as i walked, often holding the can in the outstretched hand so the situation was obvious. luckily oriordan st is big and straight, so all the traffic was going to my destination. after not too long of negotiating the kerb to stay on the road side of the trees, a small truck pulled up and took me down the road.
paying for my five dollars worth of petrol, i contemplated asking which direction people were going, but noone gave me any easy openings. wouldn’t you think it highly likely that someone filling up a gerry can would be able to use some kind of assistance? i was slightly worried that i wouldn’t get lucky twice and would have to lug the can all the way back, but i set off anyway, a thumb being a much easier form of communication than all those words needed to explain situations and make requests, and all that body language required to demonstrate that i’m not threatening, would be very grateful and am not asking much.
of course walking with one’s arm out and a full gerry can hanging off the other is very different to walking with one’s arm out and an empty gerry can. and changing arms, though occasionally necessary, is even more challenging. five litres of petrol on the end of an outstretched arm uses interesting muscles. luckily there were less trees on this side of the road, and i could walk on the footpath. i was getting slightly concerned, but hadn’t really gotten very far when another small truck pulled up a fair way ahead. gerry can and all, running up to a truck on spec is much easier without a pack or having spent three weeks on the road. sure enough, he had stopped for me, and though he joked about my car having been stolen as i searched for it, not having paid attention to where i’d left it, he drove me down the road and turned into the driveway, just that extra little gesture of making sure i’m right before he drove off.
respect to all small truck drivers out there, thank you for your trust, care and generosity.
my car affects my moods. when she’s well, i’m happy. all is good, i can deal with whatever life throws at me. when she’s sick, or not near me, i’m depressed. why is this?
my car means more than independence. i usually have something to drive even if it’s not her, so why am i affected so? it’s more than the fact that she’s light to handle, has a good turning circle and is tall and bright enough to be found in carparks. she also represents refuge, agency, competence and identity. people recognise her, she’s been there for me for the last eight and a half years. when i’m upset i go for a drive in her, and it’s just not the same in anything else; the impulse to drive aggressively fast to wollongong becomes a meditative experience where direction is maintained but the speed limit is not. keeping her happy is a challenge, but i’m learning how to fix her, and therefore the world.
after coming to an auto impasse in june, my bug has been sitting outside my house collecting dust, making me feel both sad and guilty through my busy term. on thursday, mid-holiday, i finally decided on a course of action, and booked the nrma to tow bea to a new garage, one of my father’s friends who he said would let me be involved. friday morning i waved her off, in the care of a very understanding tow truck driver who told me many times what good care he’d take of her. yesterday was very busy and when i tried to ring i couldn’t get through, but this morning i called, and mark told me to come on over and we’d take a look.
the front wheels came off, the disc brakes were fine. the wheels rattled, but were easily adjusted. the master cylinder was fine, though the pedal has come adrift from its spring. the big nuts on the back wheels were hard to get off, he resorted to standing on a 2m long tube with me pushing on the brakes to stop the car rolling forward right over the chocks. underneath we found wheel cylinders dripping with oil.
mark made a call to a local parts supplier, and we were in luck. they dropped by two new wheel cylinders over lunch, and it was a fairly simple job to fit them, stretched out over a couple of hours by interuption by everyone who came past.
finally it was done, we went for a test drive round the gladesville streets, many of which i had never seen despite having lived there for 23 years. we found a servo, filled her up and pumped her tyres, and she was ready to go!
to say i giggled all the way home is a massive understatement!