Monday, November 30, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

Yesterday afternoon, 5:30 PM to be precise, I was basking in the solitude of a quiet house, and the prospect of several days with evenings to myself and the time to begin work on my new writing gig while at the same time work on this blog and articles for

Then a call came from my wife. She drove our daughter and grandson back to OKC yesterday (son-in-law having left the day before that to be in his pulpit Sunday morning). It seems our daughter did not have her main suitcase; would I check in the basement bedroom? Sure enough, there it was. She had said something to me about her suitcase still downstairs and might have asked if I would bring it up, but that was 30 or more minutes before they left. I asked her right as she left if she had everything from downstairs. She said yes, I suppose assuming I had gone downstairs to get the suitcase. I almost asked her to go down and make one more sweep. Should have.

We made tentative plans to meet tonight, maybe in Tulsa, and do the transfer. Meanwhile Lynda did some checking on-line, and determined a bus company had a bus leaving from Rogers at 1:50 AM and would have the suitcase in Oklahoma City by 2:30 PM. I spent some time debating whether to do that, or just to wait and see what I could do today, since my office is just a couple of miles from that bus stop. I decided to not be lazy and instead to tie up the suitcase, put it in the pickup, and drive the 15 miles. I got there at 12:30 AM. The bus would arrive at 1:30 AM. I had a pleasant time reading in my current selection from the reading pile for that hour.

The bus arrived on time--Great! But then I learned that the driver can't accept freight that wasn't already ticketed. I would have to come back during normal business hours and have the agent ticketed. Oh, well, about two hours wasted, and a late night to bed. At 1:45 AM I headed home.

But, I must first backtrack. About a mile from the bus stop (which is at a convenience store at the highway exit), the truck began acting rough--loud engine noises. What was going on? Was it low oil level? I was several thousand miles behind on having it serviced. No, the oil pressure gauge showed good pressure. I left the convenience store and headed home, deciding to drive through town and avoid the high speeds of the convenient Interstate. This took me right past our new office, the Ford garage near the office, and the Wal-Mart Supercenter. However, despite the rough sounds of the engine and the oil pressure gauge now pegged at zero, I kept going.

It got to sounding so bad that I decided to stop at the Phillips 66 station/convenience store in Bella Vista. In the near darkness I couldn't really see what the oil level was, but it looked low. I put in two quarts, started the car, and the oil pressure gauge showed a good level. Headed down the road and the gauge pegged zero within a block. I stopped, checked to make sure I had the cap on tight, and decided to drive the remaining seven miles home. When I got there I was too wound up to go to bed, so finished the chapter in the book and got to bed at 3 AM.

Up at 7:30 AM, called the Ford garage four miles from the house, and after I described the problem they said to drive it in. Got there at 8:10 AM. Sat till 8:45 AM, when they told me the engine was blown. It was just a matter of time before it locked up, maybe a mile, maybe a month. Why did it do that, I asked them? Low oil? Oil pump quit? Long term damage that just reached a critical point between 12:30 and 2:00 AM on a Monday morning? No way to know. I waited some time at the dealership before telling them to go ahead. And while they are at it, to check the clutch too. The other Ford garage told me a year ago it was bad, and I've been nursing it, trying to get by for as long as possible.

They gave me a loaner for the duration. Went home, ate an early lunch, headed to the bus depot, got the bag on the 12:30 PM departure, and arrived at the office.

With my equilibrium and my tranquility quite upset. Haven't gotten much done today, but will try to knuckle down as soon as I get this posted. Did I cause the engine damage by letting the servicing go? Was it just time for it to happen, and it happened in the wee hours when my back-up transportation and cell phone was in Oklahoma City? All I know is the outcome, which is in a week I will be considerably poorer, with my emergency fund, auto repair fund, and savings significantly drained.

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