I’d love to drive to the nearest Toyota franchise and drive home with a brand new Camry. That isn’t going to happen. I’ve joined the ranks of the retired who are “living on Social Security and a
very small dwindling nest egg”. We bought my Camry new in 1999 and have taken very good care of it through the years. It has needed occasional work from time to time (don’t we all) but, overall, it has been reliable and “healthy”.
I had noticed over the past few days that Camry (that’s what I call her) had begun to “run rough”. I didn’t know what was wrong but I had a suspicion that something was. It was definitely not time for her appointment for her “new oil, fluids & filter checkup” – not even close.
This morning, I drove down to the local post-office-station at Dahl’s grocery store to mail my check & income tax return to the IRS. That didn’t do much for me but I knew it would make the IRS happy.
I had a few errands that I needed to run after that: pick up my reserved book at the library, pick up a prescription at the pharmacy and treat myself to a much-needed-haircut. I pulled out of Dahl’s parking lot and took a right on 50th Street. I had barely made it into the center lane, when Camry began shaking violently, not picking up any speed at all. To top it all off, the engine light was flashing and there was a smell!
As a Registered Nurse since 1978, I’ve calmly handled more than my share of medical crises in the hospital but I’m not a mechanic. All of a sudden, I did not feel safe and the long string of what-ifs started. I knew I couldn’t afford a new car.
I pulled into a nearby “Kum & Go” (like a 7-11 for my Southern friends). There was no way I could get Camry on the interstate to drive to Firestone but that’s where I needed to go. An angel disguised as a young man working at Kum & Go, took a look under the hood and checked the fluids. He said I was almost out of coolant and something else. I bought some and he took care of putting it in the right place under the hood (not usually a service they provide at Kum & Go!) but said he didn’t think this was the real problem. There was no way the fluids should have been low. This indicated something else was wrong. He suggested to get help soon. I was. I offered him a generous tip but he graciously, absolutely refused it.
By this time, I have my calm, class-act daughter on the cell phone to alert her of the situation and that I might be in need of rescuing. Also by this time, I’m shedding a few tears…it’s those what-ifs and the uncertain financial future that gets me every time. In her reassuring way, she tells me we’ll take one problem at the time. She stays on the phone with me to give me directions to Firestone via the “back way” since I can’t go the only way I know – via interstate. She stays with me until I get to Firestone. I love my sweet girl!
Firestone took one look at me and got Camry in right away. While they went to work diagnosing the problem, I wandered down the strip mall next to where they are located. I just knew it was going to be expensive.
First, I went to the pet store. That always cheers me up – except for the fact that I still cannot have a pet. Not where I live now. Eventually, I will be living somewhere that I will have a dog. Next stop: Michaels craft store. It would have been more fun if I had known whether or not I would have any money left to spend! Next stop: Gordman’s department store where I bought a thank you card. I was truly tempted to buy the framed Bible verse in the home department – resting front and center on the middle shelf! It is one of my favorites: Romans 8:28. I said “thank you, Lord, for the subtle reminder”. By this time, they had called with the diagnosis (I was down to 3 cyclinders and a few other things wrong) estimate: $460.00! I said yes of course. I had no choice.
After that, I treated myself to a $12 manicure and met a sweet young Vietnamese woman. She asked where I worked. I said I was retired. She smiled and shook her head “no”. She said she thought I was 50! She wanted to be sure I understood her, so she wrote the number 50 on a piece of paper. She either a.) needs glasses or b.) is another angel – disguised as a manicurist.
An hour or so later, I picked up Camry – who was now feeling her oats and driving like a dream – and headed out to finish my errands.