A cliche-ridden commentary on a bad day

Today was ‘one of those days’, that’s right…WOTD. I probably ‘shouldn’t have gotten out of bed in the morning’ but I did. I had to. It was the day I was to borrow my son’s ‘pride and joy’ – his black, 8 cylinder, diesel pick-up truck, that guzzled gas by the gallons just to ease in and out of the driveway – and use it to assist my daughter and son-in-law in moving the contents of their condo into a storage facility. That being said, I dislike moving. It’s high on my list of least favorite ‘things to do’ along with root canals and enemas. Moving on a cold, windswept winter’s day in sub-freezing weather increases its rating on my list of least favorite things to do and equates it to having a major surgical procedure without the use of anesthetic.

Diesel engines are sensitive pieces of machinery regardless of how macho and loud they look and sound. First, you have to turn the ignition key half way on and wait for the engine to heat up in its own little diesel fashion. His truck comes with glowing instructions: a light on the dashboard flashes ‘wait’ in large, square orange letters and then stops flashing when it is time to actually turn the key full forward into the ‘on’ position. This ignites the hot air within the engine that has been heating up during this process, which then starts the truck. It’s an interesting but anxiety producing process.  Before he handed me the keys, he warned, “On cold days like this, you may have to do it a few times before the truck actually starts.”

No problem. Got it.

He was right. It did take me a number of times to actually get the thing running, so many times in fact, that I drained the batteries. After calling AAA and waiting an hour for them to arrive to jump-start the two batteries (yes, I said two) under the hood, I was finally ready to attempt to leave my yard. Engine roaring and neighbors’ running for cover into their houses, I backed out of the driveway and headed toward my daughter’s house and the mountains of boxes awaiting me. Once there, we loaded the truck and drove to the storage facility. ‘Things went smoothly’ until they didn’t anymore. Let me explain: Diesel engines require oil just like any other engine does. This one didn’t have much oil, as demonstrated by the rat-a-tat- sound emanating from the engine as well as the indicator arrow under the little dashboard oilcan icon pointing to zero. I stopped and checked the oil. The dipstick was as dry as the Mojave and what little was still desperately clinging to the stick was as black as coal. Not good. I called my son who told me to get an oil change. Since there was no oil in the engine to change and we had already lost two hours of moving time, I suggested I put some oil in the truck and continue doing this, one of my least favorite things. I put the truck in gear and headed out of the parking lot on my way to find some oil, only to move a few yards before the truck…um…stopped. Silence. No roaring diesel engine sound. No rat-tat-tat. No movement. Stillness.

By this time, I had AAA on speed dial. Two men arrived and attempted to charge the batteries, but without success. They bantered auto parts language like ‘alternator’ ‘starter’ and ‘fuel pump’ back and forth, then in resignation, called a tow truck. Since I had no other transportation, the tow truck driver was kind enough to drop me off at the nearest U-Haul dealership. By the time the sun had set, we had rented a truck and finished the day, exhausted as much from the drama as from the moving.

It ‘could have been worse’. Yes, it could have been worse and it was. Two hours later, the garage called my son and told him his engine had seized. Yes, It was ‘one of those days’. To salve my guilt for having driven his vehicle into its imminent demise and in the hope of maintaining some perspective, I keep telling myself, ‘it could have been worse, it could have been worse, it could have been worse.’ It could have been worse. I could have been killed. I could have cancer. I could be homeless.

But still, that other cliché counteracted, ‘it could have been better.’

I guess it was just ‘one of those days…’

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