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Why I avoid oil changes — take two

My life is not a sitcom, or a drama, or even one of those horrible made-for-TV Lifetime movies. But sometimes I swear it seems like it. I have these moments where I’m stuck doing something or standing somewhere and I think to myself, “If I ever write a book about my life, this is definitely getting included.” Last night I had one of those painful moments.

I went to Akron last night to grab dinner with my mom and go to Border’s. Everything’s fine on the drive there. Everything’s fine on the drive back. As soon as I pull into a parking spot on campus, however, I start to smell something faint like maple syrup. As soon as I put it in park, it starts smoking. Clouds of white smoke pour from the right side of my engine. I turn the car off and get out in the pouring rain (because in all great car trouble scenes there’s pouring rain).

I hit the release button on my hood, determined to see if I can figure out the issue. (Yeah, right.) That was my first problem, I didn’t even know how to open the hood. I call the Stater to find someone to help me. (Take into consideration that we are by nature not car people.) Then I call my dad, who is my go-to on car problems. I know when I call my dad and say, “Dad, I just had an accident,” or “Dad, my car won’t come out of park,” or “Dad, I know it’s 3 a.m., but we have a flat tire and we’re on some random two-lane road in Cuyahoga Valley, and we don’t have a jack or know how to change a tire,” he will answer and either calm me down or say, more often than not, “I’ll be there in…” But he doesn’t answer. So, I stand in the rain and wait, looking like an idiot to the dozen or so people who walk past me because while my car’s hood is still smoking, I’m just staring at it, immobile.

Eventually, after we open the hood and I am satisfied nothing was actually on fire or anything, I calm down. Sean says it was probably just overheated or something. But that makes no sense. My car has never done that before, and isn’t the coolant, which I had replaced the day before, supposed to prevent that? The smoke came from the area where the coolant is at, which leads me to believe a) the guy who changed the oil and coolant spilled some on the engine or b) he screwed something up when he was working on it. Either way, I have to go back today or (probably) tomorrow to figure it out. It definitely shouldn’t be doing that.

You know, my dad asked me last week if I’d want triple A for Christmas and I told him it was probably a good idea because I’d be moving away soon and wouldn’t know anyone. Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

My mom called back later (she was my call after my dad), and I explained what happened. She asked her friend who used to be married to a mechanic what that might be. Immediately her friend replies, “Oh, maple syrup? That’s bad. That means your heater core’s going bad.”

So, whatever a heater core is, I have to add that to the list of things to be checked and fixed when I’m done with all these papers, projects, exams and classes — basically, when I graduate and have a little free time. It really is sad that I look forward to a real job where I’ll work 40 hours a week instead of 60+ on top of five classes. I might have time to read all the books I buy at Border’s, or take up another hobby… maybe working on cars?

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