Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nuka and Duke vs. Transportation

This is my car:

The Super Sonic Saturnator

     This beautiful piece of machinery is a 1995 Saturn SL1 four door sedan with a four cylinder engine in sapphire blue.  It has somewhere just south of 500 000 kilometers on it, but it's hard to say for sure because the odometer only works sporadically.  You might be wondering why it is here, on this blog, let me tell you a little story.

     On Friday, October 14 at about 6:40 am I was driving to work in the dark and rain.  With me I had Duke, Nuka and my co-worker Lynn.  The night before I had mentioned to Jeremy that I thought something in the steering with the Saturn felt a little off.  He asked me if it felt loose.  I said no.  He asked me if there was a delay when I turned the wheel, I said no.  Just off, it felt off.  But, when your car is sixteen, a lot about it feels off.  I chose not to worry about it.

     That was a mistake.

     All was well, Lynn, myself and the canines were toddling along quite nicely.  We stopped at a red light at a busy intersection.  When the light turned green, I, like all well functioning people, proceeded to keep driving.  Unfortunately, I failed.
     There was a very loud grinding sound that is difficult to describe.  It was quite acute, and yet, the car did not move forward even though it sounded like it was trying very hard.  Lynn and I looked at each other in what must have been a hilarious exchange of faces, and I believe we both literally said, 'uh oh!'  The Saturn continued to do its stationary grind and then the front right side sort of thudded over.  The only way I could make it stop making horrible sounds was to put it in park and turn off the ignition.  I put on my four way flashers.

Lynn: "Try it again."

Me, appreciating her positive attitude, but knowing with a deep car-bond that it was over: "No, dude.  It won't help.  The Saturn is dead."

     So, on a busy Friday morning and totally blocking a popular intersection, Lynn did what most people do when they get into a sticky situation, she called her mom.  I am happy to report that Lynn's mom arrived promptly and did the most important thing: got the dogs out of the car.  If this blog has shown anything, it's probably that Duke and Nuka aren't the brightest bulbs in the box, but they definitely know when things are amiss.  We've had Duke for just over a year and in that time he has known no other real transportation then the folded down, blanketed back seat of the Saturn, this is a familiar spot for him, but boy, he was whining like a baby back there after a few minutes.  He too must have realized that the Saturn had taken its final drive.
     Lynn's mom arrived and successfully whisked Lynn and the canines off to work, for which I was now late. Then I was alone, sitting in the cold, dark rain, with the poor, dead Saturn.  I had informed Jeremy of the developments via text message, but he wasn't much help in Ohio.  So I sat, and waited, in my final moments with the Saturn.  It was an emotional time.
     Jeremy bought the Saturn in 2000.  In 2003, I learned how to drive in it, and in 2004 I took it over after my relationship with a 2004 Hyundai Accent didn't work out.  I have driven that car every day since that time.  It is, quite literally, the only car I have ever really driven.  Many things went through my mind during this quiet period of reflection in what was affectionately known as 'the dog car' in our house.  The kajillion trips up north, to Toronto, to Quebec city, to the US.  The Saturn's many repairs, it's lack of heat, air conditioning, functioning passenger doors and ability to keep its rear licence plate attached to the trunk.  Yes, it was the dog car, it was my car.
     My manager, Michelle, arrived on the scene with her husband, Brian.  Since Michelle has CAA, (I think that's AAA in the states, but I might just be making that up.) she offered to have it towed for free, which was amazing.  The issue was where to tow it.  I texted Jeremy, my heart all aflutter.

Me, in text form: They need to know where to tow it.

Jeremy, in text form: I think you probably know.

Me, text form: Yes, I do.

Michelle: "I just have to tell them where it's going."

Me, petting the steering wheel, and with a big sigh: "You can tell them...that it will be going to the wrecker."

     Michelle and I stood in the pouring rain under an umbrella while the CAA guy hooked up the lifeless vehicle.  It was a somber moment, and the cold grey rain was very suitable to the occasion.  Michelle remarked that it was like a funeral, and it was, of a kind, a funeral for a trusty little beast of a car.  Jeremy and I had decided some time ago the we would stop fixing the Saturn, but that didn't make it any easier.
     Brian drove us to work after the Saturn disappeared over the horizon, towed limply behind a tow truck, to its final resting place.  I worked all day, distraught, and received many condolences, and a sympathy card from my caring co workers who knew what a ninja the Saturn was.  It was a sad time.  The dogs and I were suddenly transportation-less, adrift in a world that we had no way to participate in.  Because of this, the mourning period was short.
     Saturday morning we went to the wrecker and there sat the poor little Saturn, dead, lifeless, waiting to meet its fate.  I collected the stuff from inside and was handed the licence plates and a cheque for $150.00.  I was surprised by the sympathy and caring expressed by the workers at the wrecker yard.  There was a moment of silence and many stories were exchanged about old vehicles that worm their way into your emotional range of being.

Me: "What will happen to it, the Saturn?"

Doug, wrecker guy: "Well, we drain all of the fluids and strip it for usable parts.  We recycle most of the metal and plastic."

Okay, that didn't sound too bad.  Me: "What about the rest of it?"

Doug screwed up his face and made a squishing motion with his hands. "You don't want to be around for that."

     No, no I didn't.  As we pulled away from the auto wreckers, I looked out the back window of the Volvo until I couldn't see it anymore.  Unfortunately, there was no time for sadness, as every minute without the Saturn was another minute the dogs and I were immobile.  Jeremy and I drove straight from the wrecker to the car dealer, heartless, I know.  I had hoped the Saturn's final drive would be in a demolition derby, but alas, it was not to be.  Stay tuned for Part II of Nuka and Duke vs. Transportation and our dramatic struggle to become mobile again.

Good bye, Saturn, the dogs and I will miss you terribly.

Me and my Dogmobile.  Rest in peace, little buddy.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pip the Cupboard Mouse Puts Things in Perspective

     Jeremy came into my office this morning and looked toward the mouse habitat.

Jeremy: "Where's Pip?"

Me: "He's in his nest sleeping.  He hardly comes out during the day, he's very nocturnal."

Jeremy: "That's all he does, sleep all day?"

Me: "Yeah, he comes out at night."

Jeremy moved closer to the cage and peered into its apparent emptiness: "I wonder what he does in there?  Just hangs out, thinking?"

Me: "I don't know, he might be thinking.  He hangs out at night, eats, runs on his wheel, walks around, builds things out of old socks, you know, he does stuff."

Jeremy, still contemplating the cage: "So, he basically does what we do then."

     I almost laughed at this, but stopped myself, after all, that's probably true, isn't it?

Pip hangs out in the big blue bubble at the top of the cage = Jeremy and I sit in the basement on the old green couch and watch movies.

Pip eats seeds and lettuce = Jeremy and I wolf down lasagna and garlic bread.

Pip runs on his wheel = Jeremy and I go to work.

Pip walks around = Jeremy and I go grocery shopping, sweep the floor, walk the dogs, do laundry, etc.

Pip builds various creations out of old socks and paper towel tubes = I write novels, Jeremy records cd's.

Pip does stuff = Jeremy and I do stuff too.

Pip sleeps in his nest all day = Jeremy and I sleep in our bed all night.

Jeremy: "I wonder what he thinks about."

I wander over to the mouse habitat and peer in beside Jeremy: "I don't know.  He could be plotting world domination for all I know."

Jeremy takes a sip of his coffee: "Yes, he could be."

     This short conversation this morning gave me a whole new respect for what goes on in the mouse habitat.  I'll be sure to supply Pip with a more varied selection of snacks and building materials in the future.