Stalling Ass

6 Aug

If there’s one thing in life I wish I knew more about, it’s cars.  In my lifetime, I’ve spent thousands of dollars repairing them, countless hours stranded because of them and have had plenty of unsavory conversations with shyster mechanics due to them.  Yes, I wish I knew more about the automobile.

I’ve grown up with a long-line of pedigree lemons.  First off, was a Mercury Topaz.  Great car – until after several years – and then, it became a pretty big money pit.  BUT – it wasn’t as bad as my 1990 Honda Civic.  That had about as much power as a lawnmower and thoroughly enjoyed breaking down on the interstate for me (usually late at night, too).

However, I now have a good car.

I’ve had my 2008 Mazda 3 since – well – 2008.  It’s great.

Little did I know about cars and water though.

Okay, so I’m an idiot.

Tampa Bay today, and still as I write this, has had substantial rainfall and storms all day.  Like, all day.  No biggie, right?  It’s not snow.  It’s not a hurricane.  Just rain.

So, for dinner this evening, I decided on driving to Burger King.  Listen – we’re out of groceries, didn’t feel like shopping and thought I’d reward myself with a little grease-laced smudge.  It’s honestly not often I eat the stuff.  But, for a rainy evening without any desire to go buy real food and cook, BK seemed like a winner.

Off I go.  In my Mazda.

I’m driving along perfectly fine in the car, listening to some nerdy NPR news highlights and passively thinking in my mind what I was going to buy.  A WhopperOnion RingsSmothered Nachos?  Then I remembered I was going to Burger Kings so smothered nachos were probably out.

As I come upon the stop light to where I would turn, I notice there’s not much traffic.

A little awkward.  It was 5:30.  Normal rush hour.  Hmm?  Maybe the rest of the town is eating healthy and not driving to BK?

But then I notice….

There’s a car with its flashers on.  And there’s water.

Being the moron that I am, I couldn’t really figure it out.  Didn’t think too much of it.

So, I drove.  Right next to the car.  In the water.

And then my car stalls out.

I tried to restart it.  Nothing.  I tried again.  Nothing.  And again…and again.  Nothing.  Nothing.

I suddenly realize my car is in several feet of water.  It’s actually rocking around like a boat because of waves.  Also, other vehicles were starting to stall out around me. I was expecting to see some water skiing pass by in my rear view mirror.

Out of nowhere, two Burger King employees come out.  They help me and several other motorist push our useless vehicles into their parking lot.

The guy next to me was in his 60’s (I’m guessing), driving a beautiful, new, BMW.

“Well, the engine is done for.” he chuckled.  “Seriously?”  I said.  “Stalling out in water destroys engines?”.

“Sure does.  But don’t worry – insurance will cover it.”

This guy obviously had no problem with money.  In fact, come to find out, his tow truck was almost there within minutes.  He just called right away.  His car is probably fixed by now.  I’m guessing it was just like spending a dollar for him.

For a guy like me though, even with insurance, I still gotta pay that thousand dollar deductible.  And with a cartoonist salary of my magnitude, that pretty much wipes me out completely.  So his chuckling made me really think.  “Is he for real?”  He wasn’t a shyster mechanic, so why would he lie?

I don’t have a cell phone, so I borrowed about three random cell phones from other stranded people to call my wife.  I didn’t know what to really do though.  Because, I heard through the grapevine talking to some of these other people that all the car has to do is dry out.  “Dry out sounds good.  And free!” I thought to myself.

I don’t know about you, but actually knowing phone numbers these days isn’t like it used to be.  Everything is so programmed in our smart phones, digital stuff that having an actual phone number memorized isn’t something I don’t have going for me.  So, I called the house phone (I do have that memorized considering I put that sucker on every submission, invoice, etc. I dish out of here).  Couldn’t get an answer.  Luckily though I had enough common sense to look at some of the cars papers and found her cell number on there.  Whew!  Might get somewhere now.

I got a hold of my wife.  I decided best thing to do would be have her call a friend and come pick me up.

I changed focus for a minute and remembered the greasy food.  So, I bought a burger (Whopper Jr., to be exact) and a pop.  And waited.

To get this story moving quicker, I get a ride.  Get home.

And now my mind is wondering:  is my car going to work?

I’ve arranged to be taken to it in the morning from the same friend and I’ll give it a go.  Now that I’m home though, I’ve been reading forums and such and it looks like a grim outcome for hydro lock (I learned that term just now).  ‘Ruined engine’, ‘ruined car’, ‘thousands of dollars’….etc.  Ouch.  Let’s hope the Burger King employees are right about my car as much as they are about frying a tasty onion ring:  it just needs to dry.

So, what’s the motto?  Well, if you’re no car expert like me, avoid things like big puddles.  I’ll think twice now before going through a car wash as well, you know, in case this were to happen again (god knows what those scrubbing bubbles can do).

I’ll give you an update as I’m either riding Mazda home tomorrow or riding home on the bus.  If you don’t hear from me though, I may have pawned this computer to pay for my stalling ass.




8 Responses to “Stalling Ass”

  1. gardenfreshtomatoes August 7, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    The bright side – if there is such a thing – is that you will never do it again. Meaning there will never be a headline the local paper announcing “Local Cartoonist Swept To His Death” and a story about how you drove into a flooded street and got washed into the Bay, or something…
    Got my fingers crossed for you and your Mazda…

    • w101njf August 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Sorry I’m so late replying…

      Anyway – yes, I know. The car isn’t totally, didn’t lose a limb so I’m pretty happy. Thanks for crossing the fingers! The update is in the long run it might pay off because we have a good chance of getting a new engine with very few miles on it. Hey – it’ll be like a brand new car!

  2. Sandra August 7, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    yikes. sorry to hear this. . . I’m also crossing my fingers for your mazda.

    • w101njf August 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Thank you, Sandra! I think it’ll all work out.

  3. Dennis August 7, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    What a bummer! Hope it dries out and does fine.

    • w101njf August 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Well, that didn’t happen. But hey – that’s the way it goes!

  4. arsmall August 15, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    Well…hopefully the eBay sale is a success and you get us a few good ‘Break of Days’ out of this fiasco. Btw, a friend of mine did the same thing, and i kid you not, her engine dried and was fine. She had a late 90s Corolla.

    • w101njf August 15, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      Thank you! And yea, I keep hearing that about a lot of cars. I guess Mazda’s are out of that category. I might have to consider Jeep next time….(or that late 90’s Corolla).

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