Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wandering Wilbo Begins to Fall in Love with his Subaru with High Mileage.

Ever fall in love with an automobile? I have been reluctant to fall in love with my current ride, a Subaru built in Indiana in 1999. Over the weekend, we were troubled. Friday began with happiness. She delivered me to medical tests and a dermatology appointment in Holland. She took me to lunch at CityVue Hotel, and I enjoyed a nice lunch buffet on the top floor, with splendid views of Lake Macatawa and a Padnos family scrap yard. That's great treatment from a car that probably should be scrap by now. I'm embarrassed to tell you the miles.

After lunch, I set up camp in the hotel lobby and worked remotely, placing calls, working on my desktop as if the desktop were in Holland and Muskegon at same time. My friend the Downtown Development Authority genius stopped by to chat, and I got to say point blank, "Hey, nice town"! to her. A trio of photographers brought a tall model into the lobby, a Naomi Campbell look-a-like, and posed her on the low ultra-lounge sofas, and I sat one couch over, writing computer code.

When I hit my starter, a check engine light flashed and stayed illuminated. That pissed and freaked me out. I thought I had handled all the mechanical issues back in March.

I had bought my little Subie at an auto auction in Coopersville in March. Thinking I had road tested her pretty well before coughing up fourteen crisp hundred dollar bills for her title, I remember being pissed when the heat failed ten minutes from the auction. I was livid when the check engine light turned visible and yellow on the way to Seven Steps Up. By then, I was driving and stopping to allow the heat gauge to drop. It took about fifteen minutes each time, and I was reminded of nursing cars to the shop back in high school. 

Gene's didn't want to work on it. A mechanic sent me to A 2 Z, a shop located on Broadway in Muskegon Heights, a street known as the Calcutta, the Yonge Street, the Rush Street of Muskegon. A 2 Z was an auto shop led by African Americans with a great reputation. As one friend said, "If A 2 Z can't fix it, take it to the junkyard". I was beginning to think my Subie had spent a little time in a scrap yard. 

When the service writer, Trevor, called me, he listed all the fixes, a water pump, a head regrind, a bunch of belts, a plethora of gaskets, a slew of hoses. I gulped, said yes, and counted out twenty-two hundred dollar bills from my bonus pay envelope. Put them aside. The repairs took two weeks, and Trevor even offered me the keys with a partial payment. I paid him off next pay day. It's all about liquidity.

The Subaru surprised me. It ate up the road at eighty miles per hour. It ran forever on a gallon of gas. My friends would sit down in the passenger seat and compliment me. One friend inhaled deeply and admired the fragrance. A few friends offered to trade their sedans for my station wagon. Were they tripping?

I laughed them off and took the Green Subaru out on its first road test. I drove across Michigan to see my daughter graduate at Oakland University. The car ran like a top, and brought me home safely after racking up 610 miles on the odometer. Swing low, Subaru Chariot, coming for to carry me home.

I tested her. My drive up to Mackinaw Island for a few days around Fourth of July put six hundred on the odo. A spree over to Detroit for my daughter's open house racked up five hundred miles. I was beginning to trust her. 

So Friday, I was dismayed. Subaru summer was threatened. And I found an oil change shop named Gusher open late on Holland's south side, and the tech found I was a quart low on oil and a gallon low on coolant. No wonder the light went active. Little Bear, a young woman with a shaved head, turned off the yellow light and explained a weird error code. Something like "Rational Denial".

And so I promised myself to take it back to A 2 Z Monday and put her on the road for an excellent weekend in Traverse City. A rattle under my floorboards annoyed me; the yellow "Check Engine" light stayed dark. And I let myself fall deeply in love again. I even slept with Subie. Seriously, I wasn't going to pay two hundred dollars for a lumpy bed in TC, so I parked in Turtle Creek Casino's lot, pulled down the seats and snuggled up with blanket and pillow and slept like a baby. I awoke refreshed and spritely from all the fresh air and I had an energetic day, even going to bed late next day ,

A 2 Z performed a long list of work, most of it under warranty. That seemed to address the oil and coolant leaks. I paid eighty dollars for a slight muffler repair, worth it. I have no idea what else the mechanics did. It drove away from the shop even more smoothly and quietly than it had before. The car just keeps getting better. I think I'm going to buy fuzzy dice to hang from the rear view mirror. 

Can she make it all the way to Los Angeles? Dallas, Tidewater Virginia? My old truck crossed the country three times, each a different way, as I sought destiny across the nation as a consultant. 

Subie, I want to believe in you the way I believed in that truck.

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