Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mechanic's Mystery Delight

Because I'm feeling a little quirky today, I posted this ad on Craigslist this evening, and wanted to share it with you in the hopes you'll get a laugh out of it. Or at least a lop-sided grin.

Mechanic Mystery Delight - $600 (West Eugene)

Boy, have I got a rig for you! I hope you can channel your inner-Click and Clack Brothers from NPR.

Our well-loved 2000 Pontiac Montana van needs to find a new home. It has many little things "wrong" with it, but none that impaired the driving of it. In fact, it ran just fine, until it didn't. I've taken it to a mechanic who deems nothing wrong with it. I've had the battery tested three times, and am told every time "it's pretty old, but you've got another year on it, probably."

I personally think there is an electrical "issue" that is micro-draining the battery. Because all that happens is it doesn't start. (It's not the starter, it's not the alternator, and it's not the battery.) I've even had it tested for an electrical drain at the mechanic's, and he said there wasn't one, "Unless it's some ghost drain, which sometimes happens." So, there you go. A mystery.

List of off-beat characteristics:
*VCR doesn't work
*AC doesn't work
*Fan selections 1 and 5 don't work, but the rest do.
*CD works so sporadically that it basically just doesn't. (Tape deck and radio work.)
*Radio read out display isn't viewable. I don't think it's a burnt out light, because you actually can read it if there is a high-powered sunbeam aimed at it. :-)
*Rear windshield wipers don't work.
*It's been in a couple of accidents with minor damage. The biggest being the right hand headlamp casing doesn't stay in anymore. (Though the headlights work fine.) I used to tape it in, but I finally just removed it. It lives inside the van now.
*The windows don't roll down anymore because I had the master switch removed. (One day it just started smoking, and melted.)
*The horn(s) are unplugged because the anti-theft program would randomly turn on the alarm sometimes while I was driving.
*The key fob doesn't work. Even with a new battery. You have to unlock the doors the old-fashioned way.
*And one last idiosyncrasy: the blinkers don't stay for long. They burn out rapidly.

But, here's the thing. None of those character "flaws" prevented me from driving it. What did end up sending me to a replacement was this: Every night I'd charge up the battery with one of those slow chargers (no big deal), it would start up right away and I'd drive off. But then, it would randomly not start throughout the day, too. Totally unpredictably. It was a huge stress for me to not have a reliably starting vehicle. But whenever I'd jump it, it would start immediately. No problem. I carried jumpers with me for months. :-)

Despite the frequent jump starts, I still don't think it's the battery. Because all the dash stuff worked. The radio, the lights (inside and out), the fan/heater, whatever. It just wouldn't turn over the engine. But sometimes it would, if I pumped the gas at just the right time.

Again, I think it's electrical. But I'm not a mechanic. And, even if I was, apparently I would be saying that nothing's wrong with it! (Or maybe I just need a new mechanic.) ;-)

Anyway. It's just sitting in my driveway. And I'm still paying insurance on it. I'd like to pass it on to someone else now. Maybe you! Blue book says that a reliably working version of this van, with no additional features (which is basically what you've got now) could sell for $1K. I'm listing it at $600 because getting it to run is ... challenging. Driving it around after it's started is a piece of cake though! My kids are sad to see it go--it's super roomy.

Email me. Make an offer.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Feeling a little nostalgic (bordering on melancholia) tonight. I started thinking of an old friend of mine (she was in my last wedding) that I'd lost touch with. She's still here in Eugene, I think I even have her address and phone number, but we don't run in the same circles, and our lives just diverged.

Not too long ago, probably six or seven months ago, she reached out to me out of the blue. It was a lovely and unexpected surprise. We had lunch together and she caught me up on what was going on. I told her my stories through the years we hadn't spoken, and then expressed apology for not having stayed in touch.

She quickly made attempts at making me feel better about it, though in an unusual way.

Apparently her husband doesn't like me. As in really really doesn't like me. I guess along the way, me leaving my husband planted some fear that my friend would follow suit--even blames me, I take it, for any of their marital discord. .... (I know, right?!)

So I wasn't to be upset about not keeping in touch, her husband wouldn't have allowed it anyway. At least that's how I read it.

At any rate, my friend just had a baby. When she posted a picture of her new son on Facebook, I added my Congratulations to the list of other FB friends doing the same. But I got to pondering tonight: I don't want that to be the only words I say about her new baby. I want to see him, and see her, and hold him, and swap stories, and hear how she's doing. Really doing. Not just status-line doing. And it occurred to me that I probably won't be able to. If I reached out to re-connect, her husband wouldn't approve. And I wouldn't want her sneaking around his back for me. I don't want to be the cause of any secrecy or stilted conversations between them.


I felt a little victimized actually. And a little triggered. A few tears were shed in the car on the way home from an errand. There have been a few people in my adult life who have viciously disapproved of me -- which has hurt -- and cut off contact with me. But no one that has been prevented from contacting me when they wanted to. It's weird and sad and unsettling.

My resolution?

Maybe it's a bad choice, but I think I might text her and share that I'd love to congratulate her in person and give her a hug, but that I don't want to cause a rift between her and her husband, so just to know that I'm thinking fondly of her and wish things were different.