a series of unfortunate events (or, my ’09 pre-xmas story)

last friday after work i went out with some coworkers to byzantio. jamie joined me there for a couple of hours, then she and i got some fast food at jack in the box and went back to my place and watched war games.
friday evening saint arnold’s brewery announced they’d finally gotten their permit from the city, so they were going to have their first opening for the new brewery the next day. i decided i should be there, so i went. the new brewery is big and looks nice, although it looked like they still had a lot of areas they were working on. i forgot to bring a glass, so i had to use the provided sample glass. i had my four, then it was off to help the potts (with my pickup) get a stove they’d found on craig’s list. jack and i got it, brought it to their house, and got it moved in and hooked up. once the stove was verified as functional, the oven was used. and there was much rejoicing in the potts household. (they hadn’t had a functioning oven for some number of months.) when i went to leave, my rear driver’s side tire was completely flat. jack and i cobbled together a working air pump from several he had that were broken in various ways. the tire inflated and seemed fine. and has remained fine. i’m guessing one of the kids (potts or neighborhood) let the air out of it for some reason. *shrug*
sunday i messed with the bel air some, trying to see if i could figure out exactly where the ticking noise was coming from, just so i’d maybe have more detailed info when i needed to talk to someone about the car. but i never figured out anything good. at some point i couldn’t seem to get it to start, and i finally decided maybe it was low on gas. i took a gas can to a station and got 1.5 gallons and put it in, and eventually the car started. i didn’t remember the gas gauge being quite so aggressive about when the tank was empty.
sunday afternoon i headed back over to the potts. in the evening i had pot roast with them. later we watched the nightmare before xmas. i had taken the bel air. when i left, the car started sputtering as i was going up the 59/beltway overpass. fortunately i was able to get over the hump and was able to coast down to the median. i decided maybe i was out of gas. (i guess i should have filled it up after the incident earlier in the day, eh?) i called jack and he came out and brought me a few gallons of gas. the car started up.
tuesday i drove my bike to work, which was a poor choice because around 5pm it started raining. it stopped before i left work, but the ground was rather wet. and that’s after i’d waited 30 minutes or an hour later than i’d originally planned to leave.
while i was at work, the warranty guy from edelbrock finally called (i’d faxed him stuff thursday evening) and said he’d gotten my information and he would be calling a place here in houston to let them know they’d be looking at my engine. but edelbrock is on vacation over the holidays, so it wouldn’t be until after the new year. i said that was fine. he once again assured me that it shouldn’t be a problem to drive the engine with a lifter knock, so the few hundred mile trip to my hometown and back wouldn’t be a problem. (take note, that’s kind of foreshadowing.)
tuesday evening after i got home, jamie came by and picked me up and we went and ate at niko niko’s, after we ate she dropped me off at home and i assumed my evening was over. however, later sue came over and we went to the stag’s head for the tapping of the final barrel of saint arnold’s xmas ale. (well, that’s why we went, but we got there way past the time they’d designated for the event.) that was an odd night. neither of us had that much to drink, but both of us ended up feeling kind of sick (she worse than me). i wasn’t feeling up to snuff the next day at work. fortunately it was a pre-holiday work day, so i didn’t really have to do much. (and i was glad it happened tuesday night and not wednesday night, as i would have hated to be packing and “shopping” and driving home thursday feeling like i did all day wednesday.)
wednesday we got let out from work early, then i met the whole potts clan at chuy’s for supper. oddly, the girl from the bank that had helped me with tamara’s account was there and saw me and came over to say hello. although i didn’t really talk to her at all because i was distracted by the potts kids excitedly attacking me with the xmas presents they had for me. anyway, i ate with them there and then went and did the radio show.
and yes, at some point i finally started doing some xmas “shopping”. by that, i mean at the last minute i went around and picked up some gift cards. with the exception of a few cards i picked up monday and tuesday, all of my xmas “shopping” was done wednesday. i did this on my motorcycle. then i got ready for my trip home.
now, if you’ll recall from my last entry, i really wasn’t too excited about the holidays in general this year. in fact, i felt like just not doing anything and not going anywhere and just sitting at home alone feeling sad and lonely and depressed. but i hadn’t been to brady in…i think a year…a long time for sure, and i’d been planning to go for months until the work on my car took so long and it had problems, so i decided it would be the right thing for me to go and see my family.
i should have known things were going to be bad when i started the trip by literally tripping. i was walking out the back door of my house with luggage, laptop, and coats. there are two concrete stairs there, going down to a concrete driveway. i was half-turned closing the door, and as i started to turn to go down the stairs i realized the door hadn’t shut good so i turned back to pull the knob harder. unfortunately, my momentum had already started but my feet were still planted — so i ended up falling pretty much like a tree being felled. with my feet still on the top stair, i just sort of fell over to the concrete driveway and landed on my right side. i managed to get one hand sort of out a bit, but mostly i just landed along my whole side. and what of the things that i was carrying could possibly have landed under my side? the laptop bag. joy. i got up and finished packing, then took of in the bel air. (which the heat still doesn’t work in, other than on occasion if you aren’t moving. and it was cold.)
i made a couple of stops for more xmas “shopping” but other than that i only stopped for gas. it really seemed like it was using more gas than i’d expected it to. then between bastrop and austin the engine started cutting out. i pulled over to the side and the engine never died, it would just sputter and lose power, then eventually pick back up. it did this for a few miles with me driving somewhat slowly on the shoulder, then it picked back up. it seemed okay again, so i got back up to speed and kept going. i thought maybe it had just had something in the fuel line or something and it got worked out. then just before austin it started doing it again some. while in austin, i called my parents and told them i might not make it and what my car was doing. i got through austin and stopped for gas. it was running sort of poorly at the gas station (same as before). i got on the highway and got a couple of miles, then it did it worse and actually died. i pulled over to the shoulder. i could get it to start, but it was lose power and die. it kept doing that until eventually it wouldn’t even start reliably. this is xmas eve, around 4:30pm. the wind is blowing like crazy, it’s around freezing, and there are snowflakes in the air.
i had to call my parents and tell them, then call aaa. i was about ready to give up. no shop to take it to, no rental car plans, a car i’d just shelled out $15k on being a worthless piece of crap that nothing seems to be working right on. my parents said they’d come get me, which i felt crappy about. the tow truck driver showed up in about an hour, and i had the car towed to my brother’s house. (he was already at my parents’ house.) when the tow truck driver got the car to my brother’s, we noticed there was a lot of gas on the flatbed. some still dripping, from around the engine area. so i’m hoping maybe that just means the line from the gas tank to the engine wasn’t hooked up well, or some hose came loose or something. i don’t know. i’m still not sure exactly how i’m going to work this out. i was alone outside there for about 45 minutes, so i walked down some streets (looking on google maps) until i found a 7-11 that was open. i got some coffee and a fritter and walked back to the house. my parents arrived and picked me up, and i said goodbye to the dead bel air.
since i’d made my parents drive all that way unplanned, i offered to drive back. on the way home between mason and brady i got pulled over by a dps officer. at the time i was barely going over the speed limit. it was a night 65, and i was going probably around 70. but he turned around and followed me a bit, then pulled me over. that’s the first time i’ve been pulled over since around 1996. and i drive a lot crazier than 3-5 miles over the speed limit usually. but he just gave me a warning, so that was a nice turn of events.
after all of that, i finally made it to my parents’ house and hit the couch and fell asleep. what a craptacular beginning to my holidays. merry fscking xmas everyone. (i’ll post more later about the wonderful gifts my family got me and other goings on.)

1 comment on “a series of unfortunate events (or, my ’09 pre-xmas story)”

  1. Great post. I love the holiday greetings at the end. It definitely sounds like the engine isn’t getting gas. I’m sure you remember my epic battle with the Hyundai. When I first got it, it was doing pretty much what you are describing and as you probably remember, the fuel tank was rusted out (which is most likely NOT your problem!). But, it sure seems that something is keeping the gas from getting to the engine. Anyway…that would be cool if that’s the problem (well..l as long as it was easy and cheap to fix). Happy holidays. Cool of your parents to come get you.

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