I had about four hours between appointments 20 miles from the office. Plenty of time to return in between, but where’s the fun in that? I brought along my laptop and planned to eat lunch/kill time at Starbucks.
On the way to Starbucks from appointment #1, my car started making a funny noise. It sounded like I had an old-fashioned cassette tape player on the passenger side floor and it was rewinding itself. I had plenty of electronics in the car: laptop, SLR camera, flip camera, MP3 recorder, iPod, mobile phone. None of those make that noise.
I pulled off into a rest area and the noise stopped as I slowed the car. I popped the hood and looked inside. Looked like an engine to me. I turned on the engine and looked again. There was a spinny part, but it wasn’t making the same noise the car made when it was in motion.
I consulted my owner’s manual. Did you know there’s no diagram of the engine in there? How to turn the volume up on the stereo, that’s in there. But if you want to know the name of that spinny thing on the left-hand side, good luck to ya.
I used my GPS device (oh yeah, forgot to list that one above) to look up the closest Honda dealer. There’s one 20 miles to the north and 20 miles to the south. I looked up “car repair” and found a list of transmission places and body shops. I congratulated myself for knowing that a body shop was not what I wanted. The transmission place wasn’t necessarily correct either, but it was in the right arena. During the 2 mile drive, the sound was awful, but the car felt like it was driving normally.
I passed a Les Schwab (pat on the back for knowing that wasn’t what I needed either) and found a rinky dink car repair place behind a body shop and next to Enterprise rent-a-car. It was closed.
I decided to try my luck at the car dealership across the street from Les Schwab. It’s an American car dealership, but a service departments is a service department, right? I said, “I have the wrong kind of car, but it’s making a funny noise…” After taking a lap around the parking lot, the mechanic agreed. Yes, in fact, it is making a noise.
Now, instead of whiling away my afternoon at Starbucks (which I considered walking to), I’m at a hotel restaurant. I’m told the dealership has a nice waiting room, but lacks an internet connection. The hotel restaurant has wi-fi, a lovely vegetarian sandwich and beer-battered french fries.
I may even still make my afternoon appointment.
Update – 17 minutes later: Gravel got all up in the wheel part or something. Fixed now. Still time to get to Starbucks. Or, you know, take a nap in my car.