24 July 2009

Pressure sensor! Get it?

In case things hadn't been ridiculous enough, this week happened. On Monday evening, my check engine light came on. I had negative desire to take the car in before vacation, not to mention a complete lack of time, and besides, the light just came on.

With that in mind, I left for my toe doctor appointment on Tuesday. It had started hurting again, and I begged and pleaded, and maybe bribed, my way into a last minute pre-vacation appointment. Right after exiting the 405, my car stalled on Santa Monica Boulevard. Stupid toe, making me stall my car. Clutch, engine start button, all better. A mile later the engine stalled again, except this time no amount of clutching and jabbing the start button could convince the engine to turn over. I was in the middle lane, getting honked at, with no power to speak of.

Step 1 was immediately hitting the hazard lights button so instead of honking and going around, some of the other drivers might find it in their hearts to merely go around. Step 2 was infinitely harder. With no power steering and the slightest of hills to coast down, I somehow made it into the bus stop 20 feet away, the closest thing to a shoulder this stretch of Santa Monica could provide.

I tried to restart the engine about 72 million times, but eventually had to admit defeat. Out came the cell phone and AAA card. Except I had inadvertently left it in my other purse. Well, screw you too piece of plastic. Plan B, I'll call Matt who actually keeps his in his wallet.

"Call failed."

Um, excuse me? "Call failed." "Call failed." "Call failed." Okay, this was not happening. Except for the part where my cell phone decided that it should turn into an overpriced brick in my moment of need. Turning the antenna off and on, the phone off and on, nothing worked. After putting a curse on RIM's entire R&D department, I grabbed some quarters and headed to the 7-Eleven on the corner.

Hmm, no pay phone here. I thought they were required in 7-Elevens, just like the Slurpee machines. I asked the cashier where the nearest pay phone happened to be situated and was very disappointed to hear that there MIGHT be one a couple blocks down. The cordless phone on the counter was calling my name, so I asked to use it. The cashier said no, under no circumstances were they allowed to let customers even look at the phone, so I could just forget that idea. I told her my car had stalled in the street and my cell phone had stalled in my purse, but her cold dead heart took no pity on me. A customer, however, convinced her that it would be very nice to let me make one call. With a sigh, she relented and said one local call only, what number did I want? I gave her Matt's cell number, complete with 818 area code.

Calling an 818 number from 310 (or 323) is a local call since it's part of the same city. Apparently this is not required knowledge for a 7-Eleven cashier, and she immediately changed her mind. I offered her the four quarters I was planning on giving to a pay phone, but no dice. At this point the same customer pointed out how pathetic and screwed I was, not to mention the not a long distance call thing. She relented and handed over the phone.

Ring! Ring! Ring! Ring! Why isn't Matt answering his damn phone? RING RING! Ah, finally. I told him what happened and he promised to come save me. Luckily he was having lunch with a friend in Beverly Hills, which wasn't particularly far from my personal hell.

I walked across the parking lot just in time to witness a moron backing out of a parking spot and into the side of another car. Why do so many people back out of spots without looking? There were plenty of other onlookers who were closer, so I continued on my merry way.

About five minutes later, while pacing next to my car, I saw Moron Number 2 making an illegal u-turn via the left turn lane for the other direction. In this part of Santa Monica, there are wide grassish medians dividing the road. There is a break in the median for east-bound cars to make a left turn onto a side street. West-bound cars have no such break, so no one else was expecting Moron 2 to try to pull off such a maneuver. CRASH! SPLAT! BOOM! Instant three-car pileup. There happened to be absolutely no cars traveling east, allowing me to run to the median and down the street.

The rear car contained a mother checking on her baby in the back seat. She seemed fine, just a little shaken, so I continued to the middle car. A Chinese man sat stunned in the driver's seat. Smoke was still pouring from the hole where the airbag popped out. He was looking at his arms in a daze after I asked him if he was okay. I interpreted his lack of a coherent answer to mean that he needed an ambulance and told him to stay put while I got help.

The front car's occupants were already standing and in full panic mode. They were about 20, visiting from Texas, and had no idea what on earth to do. I knew exactly how they felt. I told them my cell phone was useless, but I had seen the whole thing and it was in no way their fault. Next I asked them to call 911 and ask for an ambulance for the Chinese man.

I went back to tell the man that help was on the way, and sure enough, a siren soon made itself known. A few minutes after the EMTs arrived, the police officer came. Since everyone else was either still panicking or being checked for damage, I told the officer what happened, who was in each car, and who was in need of medical attention. After confirming some details, including that I was merely a witness, she thanked me for my help and said that since it was to be classified as a rear-ending, they wouldn't need my information. I asked if I could go back to my car, seeing as how it was now abandoned in a bus lane in a city filled with evil parking patrols, and off I went.

Soon my savior arrived and promptly called AAA to get a flatbed tow truck. And the tow truck arrived before anyone else cause a 17 car collision. Yay!

Fast forward 15 minutes and we arrived at Santa Monica Audi, having passed two more car accidents and what was quite possibly a fatal car versus bicycle incident. The service guy, who remembered my name(!), said that the service department was busy, but they would most likely look at it tonight and I could retrieve my insolent car the next day. Blargy.

At this point Matt was all but destined to be late to his dentist appointment, so I got to keep him company on his trek through the scorching San Fernando Valley. As a consolation prize, he took me to get bubble tea afterward.

My large passion fruit green tea with no ice in hand, it was time for the AT&T store. DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN. As usual, this involved waiting for six hours in a line consisting of five people. But it was worth it when the representative (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) popped in a new SIM card. My old one had fried itself. Of all the days it had to pick this one to spontaneously combust. At least I got my revenge via a free working SIM card.

Right as we were leaving the store, the Audi service guy called Matt on his deterministic phone. My car was fixed! The fuel pressure sensor had also spontaneously combusted, resulting in no gas getting to the engine. Apparently this gas thing is vital to getting the engine to turn over. Shrug.

With 20 minutes before the dealer closed for the day, we zoomed over to retrieve my car. The repair was covered under the warranty and fixed for free. Whew.

To be perfectly honest, I don't remember exactly what happened after my freshly waxed and repaired car made it into my garage. However, I'm fairly sure it involved beer, tv, and passing out. Not necessarily in that order.


dreamerj25 said...

Oh goodness, that's just about ridonckulous. I guess you're so hot that you fried both your car and your cell phone in the same day? Wahoo! Did you even make it to your toe-doctor appointment? (I must admit, when you said there were car accidents, I kind of expected someone to have crashed into yours, and I'm very happy no one did!)

nightstalker said...

Oh wow. Better a breakdown then actually being in an accident.

BTW, which car of the 3 car pileup was Moron #2 driving? I'm not clear on that.

osmodion said...

Moron #2 wasn't actually in the pileup; he just suddenly slammed on the brakes to make an illegal uturn, causing three other cars to pileup.

nightstalker said...

So the guy responsible drove off unharmed?

How do insurance companies appropriate blame and payouts in such a case?

osmodion said...

NO! I was so late by the time I was able to call that I was almost glad that I just got voicemail. The next morning I convinced them to squeeze me in with a different doctor, and all was right in the world.

osmodion said...

Sadly, Moron #2 doesn't get any of the official blame. The police officer actually told me how the official blame would play out, while explaining why I didn't need to leave my name and info. Even though the moron caused the accident by doing something illegal, the moron escaped fault by not being the first car hit. Technically, it was going to come down to no one being hit if the backmost car hadn't been following too closely and had time to stop. That car definitely gets blame. As for the middle car, if he was also tailgating, then he shares blame evenly. If he wasn't, but was merely pushed into the front car, all the blame goes to the rear car. The front car takes no fault since it didn't hit anyone. In other words, it is treated as a regular multiple rear-end collision.

dreamerj25 said...

That's a terrible mis-distribution of blame!!! I protest! =[[