|No, no and hell no I will not fix you in a puddle of ice you spawn of car-Satan.|
That same winter, which was particularly wet and sloppy I had the car break down on me. I pulled the car off the road as it was dying at the time I was most interested in getting out of the flow of traffic and I had not noticed that I had parked right in the middle of a ice filled puddle. In these dark days before cell phone ubiquity I was forced to walk along the side of the highway until I came upon house with a telephone I could use. I called my mom who contacted my dad on the radio and he called me back at the house. This is the kind of ridiculous crap that had to go on before you could just pick up the phone and call whom you wanted. He told me that the fuel pump was the problem and that he had known about it and he had actually bought one and it was on the porch. I called my mom back and had her bring me the pump and some tools. She showed up in about an hour at the house where I was holed up away from the weather. She drove me to the car and I confidently jumped into fixing the car. I do not fix cars so I don't know where my unreasonable confidence came from but I was quickly in over my head, literally. I located the old pump but the bolts and hoses were not coming loose and I was cold, wet and honestly on the verge of tears when I dropped the finally free bolt into the puddle I had parked in. I swore, shivered, built up my courage and then plunged into the four inch deep slush puddle to find the bolt. In the way that bolts are never in the place they fell it was not was not in the place where it fell. I stood up with the bold sodden and spirit broken and not in the mood to finish the job. I thought about having to tell my dad it was too hard for me and that steeled my nerves and I plunged into the job again and the hard part had passed I guess because the other bolt was not so hard. The new pump needed to be wiggled in a little but it was not that hard except for my frozen stiff fingers that would not cooperate. Pump in and hoses on I went and sat in my mom's car for a bit while I warmed up enough to see if I had fixed it or if I would have to admit defeat. I didn't think I could mentally handle failure at that point. Warmed a little I went and pleaded a little that the car would start in the way a shade tree, or in this case an ice puddle, mechanic will sometimes do. The gas was a way back from the engine and so I put a little starter in the carburetor to coax it to life and on the first turn it fired up. Hooray! Just kidding it did fire up but it was just burning the starting fluid. Dry again in sputtered and died. Damn. I turned the engine over dry a few times and when it started to sound like the battery would not give anymore I sprayed in a little more fluid. This time it went longer and then died. I decided to push the battery to start the car or at least a glorious death. It tried valiantly and then whir-whir-whired to a halt. I was shivering, it was dark and my car was dead now and my repair didn't work. I laid my head on the steering wheel and cried. I sat there for a few minutes wallowing in self pitty when my mom opened the door and caught me in a vulnerable moment. I tried to compose myself and look like I had not been cryign but I think she knew and told me we should head home and call it a night. We drove home in silence. When my dad and I went back the next day we hooked the car up to his truck for a jump and when I turned it over it roared into action like nothing was wrong. In the piercing sun of a winter morning I felt some degree of pride but a firmer resolution to never, ever, fix a car again. For the most part I have stayed on that particular wagon.