The car began overheating a few days ago. I don't drive it too far at any one time, but the kids missed their train to school, so I had to make the thirty-mile round trip trek to drop them off. When I got back and parked my car, a small amount of smoke started rising from the engine. I thought the problem was lack of coolant. When you can't remember the last time you added coolant to your car, it's probably time to go do that. I bought a bottle of the good stuff and added it, which seemed to do the trick.
Unfortunately, a couple of days later, the engine started making a louder rattly bubbling noise and I knew that couldn't be good. I immediately pulled over and called my mechanic.
SIDE NOTE: If you don't already have someone who you can trust to take care of your car, find one! I met my mechanic through an acquaintance who recommended him. He's Toyota certified AND makes house calls. Moreover, he does excellent work for less than he probably should charge.
So I called my mechanic and told him what was happening. He immediately knew what the issue was and gave me an estimate of what parts and labor would cost. Cheaper than a regular shop or dealer, but still more than I had in my piggy bank. Not to mention, this week is birthday week for the babies (the soon-to-be 13 and 15 year old babies) and Christmas just a week away.
Needless to say, I broke the fuck down after I got off the phone. How could I be so goddamn un-fucking-lucky??? Like a bottomless pit of bad luck. Serious despair hit my heart. And then I got angry at you-know-who for a minute, saying for the millionth time, "If he would just do the right thing and take care of his kids, I wouldn't be in this financial predicament!" Actually, the words I said to myself were not as kind.
Eventually, I got a grip and, pushing the feelings of despair to the back of my mind, started problem-solving, getting my car onto a tow truck and off to my mechanic. It took me a while to remember that this is just regular maintenance stuff and that I'm lucky enough to have this truck.
See, it was a gift from a friend.
Almost a year ago, my Land Cruiser was randomly taken away from me. One morning, I walked out to the driveway to take my kids to school, only to find an empty spot where the truck was supposed to be parked. I immediately assumed the ex took it, as he had in the past. Once I got my head together, I called the police to report it stolen. The person on the phone ran my license plate number through their system. That's when she told me that it hadn't actually been stolen.
Although it had been paid off for years, my Land Cruiser had been repossessed. Mr. Jones had taken a loan out on it and never repaid it. So I was sort of right. In a roundabout way, he had taken it.
I shared my frustration on Facebook and got a lot of OH MY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT responses. I couldn't, either. I was absolutely distraught. I didn't know how I was going to get the kids to school or church or wherever else it was we needed to go. I couldn't even eat anything that day. I just cried until my face was nice and puffy.
Then later that night, I got a message from a friend. She wanted me to call her. After crying for eight hours straight, I had no desire to speak to anyone. But she didn't give up. She messaged me the thing she wanted to discuss... that she had a car that she had been storing and wanted to give it to me.
I stared at the screen and blinked several times, reading the words over and over, trying to make sure I hadn't misunderstood what I had just read. When we talked, she told me that she had been helped in the past and knew what it was like to be in a difficult position in life. I was blown away by her generous offer. Not only did she give me the car, she had some work done on it before paying to have it smogged. She wouldn't even let me pay the registration.
It's never a good time for mechanical problems or for draining your limited resources, but I have to remember that this incredible gift from a friend has helped my family so much and if all I've had to do is pay for maintenance...
I'm actually quite lucky.