Car Puts Brakes on Weekend

It seems to me that I can’t catapult forward into a higher state of well-being. The moment I garner faith, confidence, and the heady determination to make things happen, :slap: something knocks me back.

Friday evening started out well. I just got paid, went home to unwind, shower, and head out for some kind of excitement to kick off the weekend. Since the new A Perfect Circle album is out, I made for Waterloo Records to pick it up. After browsing, I found the album, and also found that David Bowie has released a new album. So, pumped up and with two new purchases, I head back to my car. As I step on the brakes to shift into reverse and pull out of the parking slot, my brake pedal bottoms out and reaches the floor. Unusual. So I pump again — hits the floor. Again, hits the floor, and hits the floor, and hits the floor.

The first thought in my head was, “fuuuuuck.”

I grab a rag, get my flashlight from the trunk, and I kneal down to see under my car. Underneath my left-front wheel there was a fresh puddle of brake fluid. The first word out of my mouth, “Fuck!”

I got back in, started my car again, tried some more pumping, and still it was bottoming out. The puddle had grown in size. I turned the wheel a hard left and looked behind the tire. There was brake fluid squirted in the wheel well. I found the brake line and followed it down to where I found a brand-new hole in the line. It was toast.

When I realized that I would not be able to leave, I started freaking out. I ran back inside to use the phone, and attempted a few rapid attempts to reach my roomate at home, not knowing if he was still here or not, and not knowing if he’d answer or not. After 5 attempts, I finally reached him. Told him where I was and what happened. Asked him if he could come down and help me, and he agreed.

During the half-hour that I waited on him to arrive, I returned the CD’s and got a chargeback, just in the off-chance that the brake repair would take an astronomical cost. I went back outside and sat on my trunk to wait. In that time, I considered several scenarios for getting my car out of the parking lot, or leaving it there, or having it towed, or asking for police escort or whatever. The traffic at 6th Street and Lamar Blvd was absolute hell, and the topography of the parking lot and the neighborhood required that I’d have to either go up and down a steep hill to leave or take the equal hazard of crossing lanes of traffic to loop a block. None of the options was favorable — they either involved much hazard (and possible misdemeanors for driving a not-safe-to-drive vehicle) or much monetary loss (like getting towed). I was at a short-circuit about what to do.

When my roomate arrived, we discussed some plans and found that getting towed was the best option; his cell phone plan has road-side assistance, so he called to arrange for a wrecker. After an hour, the wrecker arrived; he loaded my car up on the platform and followed us to the brake shop. Luckily the shop was less than 3 miles away, so there was no charge. I tipped the guy, wrote a note to the brake shop and slid it under the door, and after taking my bag and laptop and other valuables from the car and locking it up tight, I kicked the tire, got into my roomate’s truck, and we headed out. He dropped me off at Mojo’s where I spent the evening in a muddy funk. Got home around 5am thanks to a friend of mine.

I woke up today just before noon, put myself together, looked up the bus schedule, and headed out towards the brake shop. After waiting for 30 minutes, the bus finally shows up and within 10 minutes I was 15 blocks away. Really, folks, I should’ve just walked. Would’ve gotten there sooner.

I walk into the shop, the manager greets me and finds that I’m the one who left the car overnight — he said they had been trying to contact me all day. He promptly got my paperwork started and moved my car into the garage bay. Looked to me like the whole team had been waiting on my car even though there were others already on risers and in the parking lot. In no time my car was raised, my tires removed, and my back drum brakes opened up. They got inside the front wheel wells and found the hole in the line. After some deliberation among themselves they agree that, at the least, I need a new pair of hoses; they suggested, after looking at the cylinder pistons on my back brakes, that I let them repack the pistons, but I decided to hold off on it.

So, the estimate? $106us plus tax. Fuck. All that for a blown line. Happenstance. Ruined my plans. How badly? How’s this: they don’t have the pair of lines. NOBODY in town has those lines. No single parts shop in this great city of Austin, the capital of fucking TEXAS, has those lines. Not a one. They told me there’s a place in San Antonio that has one line, and some place out of state has a line. I was incredulous, but too defeated to get angry. They’ll have to order the parts, so I’ll be without a car for, at the least, monday afternoon. Tuesday at the latest.

So. I was going to possibly maybe go see a movie. Fuck it. I was possibly going to take a drive. Fuck it. I was possibly going to hang out at Mojo’s for a good long evening to do some programming and whatnot. Fuck it. Can’t do anything without walking with heavy bags, waiting on the bus, and relying on rides and the kindness of others to shuttle me from point A to point B.

And the real shitter is this: it’s raining. Pitter-patter long-term raining. Grey cloudy gloomy breezy chilly raining. After a summer’s worth of praying for rain, it finally comes when I have to walk in it, when I have no other choice, when I’m a pedestrian. :sighs: A previously-pampered pedestrian. This problem’s effects go deep with me: when my car has a problem, I get ill; a known fact, I get ill. My car is, admittedly, an extension of me. It’s only a tool, yes, but it’s one of my most important tools. It allows me to be a dependable person. It allows me to seek out new places, to take care of responsibilities, to be in different places in a respectable timeframe. If I can’t drive, I totally feel like I’m back to living the hidden, stunted life of a kid growing up in the projects. That hurts. You can call me a typical American, I don’t fucking care. When I hit walls, it hurts.

So, now, I’ll stop bitching. I’m not sure if I want to sleep or make the attempt to show up at Mojo’s for an all-nighter until the busses run again in the morning. I can thank my lucky stars that my brake lines didn’t burst while I was driving, sure, but that doesn’t change my feelings or my mood. And my mood is like a wet cat. So other than the verbosity of this journal, don’t expect to hear me speaking much.

All I know is after years of driving other people around from place to place out of my kindness and generosity, I better get some fucking karmic payback. God-damned right. Fuck. I’m out of here.

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?