Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Of Viruses and Vans

Today was our second day of school.  Yesterday was smooth and easy.  I found out I had skipped a thirty-minute segment in making my sharing-of-mom schedule.  Adding it back gave me time before lunch to read with Mariel.  That was certainly happy!

We have been passing around a nasty virus for the last month.  Yesterday afternoon I took Mariel and Little La to the doctor.  She said Little La had an ear infection and Mariel had both strep and bronchitis.  And they still had a good first day of school.  Maybe they were too ill and tired to fight me. ;)

The meds wiped Mariel out, so today she slept.  I did schoolwork with Little La and then went to get the oil changed in our old beater van.  I had to drive all the way to town to do some banking, so I took it to Walmart.

"Ma'am, your oil change has been cancelled."

"Why?" I asked.

The clerk explained to me that my van was leaking vast quantities of oil, that the oil pan was cracked in several places, and that they were not allowed to work on vehicles in such bad shape.  Besides, I had obviously not gotten my oil changed at Walmart last time.  I should take the van back to where I got it changed last time and demand that they fix it for free.

I walked out of the Walmart wondering if the van would make it to the place I normally go.  I might burn up the engine driving down the highway.  I realized this could be the end of the get-out-of-debt van.  The G.O.O.D van, the kids call it.

Our van has almost 200,000 miles.  It's been fed diesel, attacked by hail, and driven across country in both directions.  We've had it eight years.  It requires fixing rarely enough to be a better deal than a car payment.  It is faithful, it is true.  Sometimes I think if I were Frodo in Mordor, our van would be Sam.  (Okay, not really.)  I said a prayer, started the van and headed toward "our" oil change place.

I like this place because it's right in our neighborhood and they do fast work.  I can get the kids started on something, then run out to the Kwik Kar and be back home in less than thirty minutes.  I've been getting the oil changed here for years.  I didn't want to accuse them of anything.  I told the guy what the Walmart folks had said and he agreed to look at the vehicle.

Long story short.  He found the leaks, which were not in the oil pan.  There are two of them.  I know about these.  We have had them awhile.  My driveway tells me about them every time I pull out.  He said that Walmart is notorious for refusing to change the oil for odd reasons.  We were only two quarts down after 4 months and 5,000 miles of driving.  He changed the oil, recommended we check it every month, and sent me on my way.

Cancel funeral arrangements for Old Faithful.  Phew!

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