Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Cars - Part 1

The morning Craig left Philistia I was at home at the McQueen's. Pastor Jack had gone into work. At about 10:00am the phone rang and it was him. He informed us that as he was pulling into the church parking lot the minivan had died. The transmission had died. It was going to cost a pretty penny just to get a mechanic to look it over and tell us what needed to be done. Then if it was an easy fix it was still going to cost over a grand, and if it was a hard fix than it would cost twice as much. And given the age of the car it wouldn't be worth it.

So now Craig is on his way and we've been knocked down to one car. The Ford holds six people. There would be seven of us. The fact that the Ford had a faulty alternator did not make me feel any more comfortable.

However, we figured out how we could do the morning and afternoon trip. We'd all pile into the car in the morning. We'd drive through the back street's to the assistant Pastor's house where we would drop Robin off. Robin went to a private school with the daughter of the assistant pastor. The assistant pastor lives right around the corner of that school, and the school is in a small town in between Embrun and Ottawa.

We would then drive through the back-roads to Wendy's school where she taught. At that point Craig and I would get dropped off so we could take the bus to work. Jack and Bruce would go to the church. Bruce's school was right accross the street from the church.

At the end of the day Craig and I would bus down to Billing's Bridge (a mall and major bus stop) where we would meet Jack and Bruce, then drive to Wendy's school, then off to pick up Robin. Then we would go home.

On the first day of work it started out alright. But on the way home Craig and I met up with the family at Billing's Bridge. They had picked up Robin, so she was with us too. We got into the car and Pastor Jack turned the key. But the engine wouldn't turn over. He turned again. Still nothing. He turned a third time, and the engine started. We drove across the parking lot and stopped to get gas at the station there.

But afterwords he could not start the engine. But there was a mechanic's shop kitty-corner to Billing's Bridge. Pastor Jack ran accross to get him. The mechanic that came over and looked at the car and tested the battery. He said we'd have to get the car over to his shop. We would have to push. One person would have to steer, another person would have to stop traffic, and everyone else would have to push. The mechanic, who became known to us as Slippery Pete, was yelling stuff out. He had a pretty thick Arabic accent. He yelled something at me I didn't understand. All of a sudden I could understand him, or perhaps he just spoke more clearly, and he yelled "What are you? Are you a man? Or are you a woman?!" (Of course, this caused me to be the laughing stock of the family for months to come.)

I offered to be a steerer. Pastor Jack went out to stop traffic. Now, this was at the corner of Bank and Riverside, two very busy, major streets in Ottawa. This was during rush hour. Lots of traffic, but on the upside, no one was driving insanely fast.

So, we pushed the car out the wrong way of a one-way entrance, left onto Bank, across Riverside, and into the garage. The mechanic, who was clearly Arabic told us his name was Peter. Jack asked him his last name. "Uhhhhhh.....Jason."


Sippery Pete kept the car overnight to replace the alternator. By this time of night all of the car rental places were closed. So we bussed it down to the airport and rented an SUV there. We picked up Wendy and went home. The whole time a turkey was in the oven. Of course the water in the pan had all evaporated by the time we got home. So, at about 11:00pm we had dinner. The driest turkey you could imagine. (As opposed to the water-logged turkey of Thanksgiving, but that's another story.)

The next morning we all went to work/school. At work I called Pastor Jack to see if he had gotten the car back from Slippery Pete. He said that it turned out that it wasn't the alternator like we thought, but the solenoids on the battery needed replacing. They were so bad that the battery wasn't getting charged by the alternator. We were happy with the diagnosis because it was a lot cheaper than a brand new alternator.

So, we got the car, and drove home. The next day we went to work, and as Craig and I were waiting for Jack and Bruce at Billing's Bridge. Instead of the blue Taurus, a white Ford F-150 pulled up. Craig and I jumped in and Jack said "Don't ask."

Well, see, what happened was that aside from the battery solenoids being worn out, it turned out that it was the alternator after all! So the battery had died on us again. The car was parked beside the dead Voyager in the church parking lot.

So, on the weekend Jack went to the wrecker's and bought a used alternator for the Taurus. He installed it. But alas, it turned out to be a faulty alternator. So he had to return it and get another alternator. Finally the Ford was working. We had a working car in the family again.

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