The Morning From Hell Freezes Over

Dear Diary,

Do you ever wonder if it’s not meant to be your week?

Of course you don’t. You don’t wonder. You can’t even think. You’re a diary. You’re inanimate. Not human, even.

No matter! I’m going to talk to you anyway. It’s a clever writing technique.

I didn’t finish yesterday’s post until after 11 last night. Spent an agonizing evening viewing the premier of the tragicomedy “Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks.” It was billed as having all the elements of an action flick, but it was often as unexciting as watching paint dry. The Academy was so inspired by the Blackhawks’ performance, they created a new award immediately after the show: Most Shots On Goal With Zero Probability of Actually Scoring a Goal.

In a Lead Role.

The lack of sleep from the last two nights caught up with me. I nodded off before I finished writing, computer on my lap.

As I scraped the contact lenses off my eyeballs, I was already dreading the 4 AM alarm.

At least I slept past 3.

Alarm sounded at 4. I didn’t roll out of bed until almost 4:30. Still groggy, but wary. It usually takes me an hour and a half to get out of the house. Today, I only left myself an hour. After the events of the last two mornings, I feared I didn’t leave enough time to get ready and out the door by 5:30.

As usual, 5:30 arrived and I wasn’t ready to leave. Scramble mode again. Way too many things to carry to the car (will I ever learn? I think you know the answer), oatmeal firmly in hand until I had one foot out the door and reached back to close the door. Shades of Monday! Once again, I cradle the oatmeal bowl precariously as I reach for the door.

This time, the oatmeal survives.

Morning proceeds normally. Meaning: everything I think I have planned changes at the last minute.

I survive the appointments and manage not to kill anybody. Always a plus, as doing so would be bad for business.

Weather is frigid. Temperature hovering around zero. Unlike the last two days, there’s a little wind today. Happy that the car heater cooperates.

It’s a 2003 Nissan Altima. Yesterday, the odometer rolled past 282,000 miles. I love this car, but it’s seen better days. In the last year, one minor issue after another has me hoping against hope that it will live another day.

Being the model husband that I am, one of my stops on my way back north is at Starbucks for a cup of coffee. Then, off to my wife’s office to drop off said coffee.

I arrive at 12:07.

At 12:08, said Altima won’t start.

At 12:10, I call Kathy, tell her what’s happening and that I’m taking her car to Panera to get some lunch and do some work. I also need to arrange for emergency road service.

American Family now contracts with some service to handle their roadside claims. I was too distracted multitasking to catch the name of the company. The insurance company used to handle these calls. Must be cheaper this way.

Cheaper or not, arranging for the jump and possible tow was anything but easy or simple.

I spent 30 minutes on the phone with the representative.

Thirty minutes.

Glad I ate first. Allowed me the opportunity for heartburn as the call dragged on.

And on.

And on.

Just kidding about the heartburn. But I am glad I ate. I was starving and needed the calories.

Driver was supposed to arrive at 3 and confirm arrival by calling ten minutes before I was to meet him at my car.

At 3:25, I get a call.

“I think I’m next to your car.”

“Really? I’m down the street at Panera. I need to pack up. Give me ten minutes to get there. Maybe five.”

“Take your time, sir.”

I depart quickly, drive back to my car, exchange pleasantries with a couple ladies who are already done for the day and leaving. We chat about the winter fury that’s gripped us in the past handful of days and the prospects for a nasty blast of cold and snow tomorrow.

The guy is as pleasant and helpful as can be. He raises the hood, gets the battery starter in place, and barks “start your car!”

Said 282,000-mile Altima starts immediately. Not a hint of a problem. By 3:39, I’m on the road. And heading to get my battery tested at Wal-Mart Automotive, where I bought the battery. I can’t remember when.

I don’t have to wait at all. Pull the car right into an open garage bay. Battery tests out fine. It doesn’t need to be replaced.

Repair guy seconds the tow guy’s speculation that “if it’s not the battery, it’s probably the alternator.”

Great. Besides their speculation, there are no other symptoms.

Well, car started just fine after the battery test. Then I had to stop for gas. Car started just fine then, too.

I should mention that today is Mom and Dad’s 59th wedding anniversary. How cool is that? A year ago, almost to the day, we as a family had sufficient reason to doubt that Dad would be alive to see another anniversary.

In the grand scheme of things, my mornings — and now an afternoon — from hell are nothing more than benign amusement. Some laughs and lighthearted moments at my expense that elevate the blood pressure and stimulate the central nervous system, but are all a bunch of folly.

Still, now living with the knowledge that my car didn’t start today, an incomplete diagnosis as to why it happened, and the coldest night of the year upon us, I’m in the Twilight Zone episode of “What Happens Next.” And folly or not, that kernel of doubt and uncertainty will be there every time I start the car.

That’s not a real episode, by the way.

Maybe I should write it.

3 Responses to The Morning From Hell Freezes Over

  1. I’m feeling conflicted. While I feel sorry for what you’ve experienced this week, I have enjoyed these posts.


  2. DeeScribes says:

    I hope it started this morning! These January days make me want to remain burrowed under flannel sheets all day.


  3. Dave, your suffering is my joy. Thanks for all the belly laughs this week–surprise abs workout.


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