Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Tried to Kill Me!

There are a few certain inevitables in life.

Everyone will be born, everyone will die, and if it can go wrong it will usually find a way to do so.

Murphy must have been a distant relative, since his law has been applied to my everyday dealings for quite some time.

Yesterday started like most for me. Got up, begrudgingly and snuggled happily in bed for a while. Finally kicked my own ass out of bed got dressed and headed on the highway (you're welcome for getting that song stuck in your head) gingerly to work.

Suddenly there arose such a clatter (ok ok, so I was dying to use that line, being it the holiday season and all)....

As I drove mindlessly down the road, my car started making this rattling noise. I mean, my car and road noise were long pals, not the quietest of vehicles in its 7 year life span. But this, this was a new noise.

My heat had yet to kick in (since I had a temperamental temperature gauge, it was in and out on most days, a royal pain in the ass on frigid New England morning) so I figured it was something to do with my radiator.

Like any smart woman would do, I called my boyfriend.

"Um, hi. My car is making a weird rattling noise". His response, "Do you think you can make it to work?" Followed by me saying "I hope so. I just shut off the heat, hoping maybe that was it. If you get a call that I am stuck on the side of the road however, don't be shocked."

We bade our farewell and I continued on my merry way.

The rattling not only continued, but got progressively worse. Now as I made my way winding down the long, uninhabited road towards the highway, the noise got louder. I turned the radio down, craned my neck to listen more attentively. I would step on the gas and the noise would get louder, let off, still rattled but less.

The line of agitated morning commuters now trailing behind me must have been thrilled with my snail’s pace and rev-and-go test driving.

While all this sounds like it lasted a while, within a 2 minute span of my hang up with the Boy, the engine stopped and I coasted to the side of the road. I called him back; let him know that I had just officially died.

"Are you serious?!?!"


As I sat I noticed smoke coming from my hood. Ok, I figured I had over heated. A pain in the ass yes, but not the end of the world. I told him I would pop the hood and take a look and then call him back.


I got out of the car, the annoyed trail of cars now whizzing behind me. One lone truck pulled behind me.

I told this to the Boy, to which he asked "Is it a murderer?"


So out of the car, I head to the front of the car and attempt to pop the hood. Once open, I see my engine engulfed in flames.

That's right flames.

The woman in the truck, (who had stopped) had previously driven past me, saw the flames shooting out from under my car, and turned around to pull behind me to assist.

I panicked, slammed the hood down and shouted to her my car was on fire as she grabbed her phone and dialed 911. I grabbed the keys, my purse, my belongings, Dylan's car seat and of course my coffee and RAN to the lady's truck.

A nice older gent who had been taking out his trash across the street also came to the aid.

Within minutes what looked like a plumbers van pulls up, only to see it was a member of the Fire Department. He was moments later joined by another suited Fireman and a police officer.

Happy frickin Tuesday.

So there, frigid and numb by the cold, I stood and watched as these men re-opened the hood I had slammed down and run from. The fire had luckily put itself out by then, but they ogled the engine.

Some sort of wire shorted and arcing and lit oil in fire was the theory.


I called the answering service for my job. "Um hi, this is Apryl from the office, my car is on fire soooooo...yeah ."

Message left, I didn't know what to do next. I called my Boy back and told him roughly where I was. The lovely trash-taker-outer (whose name we now know was Joe) told me to grab my stuff and come warm up in his house.

I told the Boy this (using Joe's phone since mine had died, naturally) and he asks "Will you be in the basement? Bound? Dead?"


(Clearly we have high regard in the trusting of strangers...)

So in with Joe and his lovely wife (whose name oddly also began with a J but who I am blanking on now) and we joked and chatted away until my Knight in Shining Minivan arrived.

He and Joe, far more mechanically inclined than I could ever hope to be, chatted about the possible cause of the fire and we loaded my rescued stuff into the van and headed back to the Boy's house, thankfully semi nearby.

I made the call to my insurance company, not sure if this was claim worthy or at deductible level, but called none-the-less. I knew I had rental insurance, just not sure how it worked.

It is useless as I found out. Had I been in a collision, a fender bender, they would set me up no hassle with a rental car. I could go about my day to day life seemingly uninterrupted. However, since I had my car catch on fire, well that I had to pay myself, wait to see if the claim gets approved, investigated and then maybe get reimbursed.

Yeah go fuck yourself on that one.

I agreed to have an adjuster call and check things out on the off chance it was claim worthy. Could they that day?? No of course not. They did however set me up with a tow.

So, since it had seemed like a fixable issue at the time, and seeing as the Boy once was mechanic to giant military helicopters, we opted to tow it to his house and see if he could easily (and hopefully cheaply) diagnose and fix the problem. (Thankfully he had yesterday and today off)

He jetted off to meet the man with the tow truck, and a little while later I could hear the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the back-up alarm and the clanging of chains from the flatbed that brought the Fucus into the driveway.

Once there, the Boy assures me that I am a disaster of a person (so loving, yet true...) and proceeds to again pop the hood of the white metal mess outside.

Things become unbolted, Googling is done, and what seems to be the issue is found (we hope) and out came the tools to work it out. A piece of something that upside down looks like an oily mess of a pan to my non-mechanical eyes is now resting on the kitchen counter.

A gasket thing is then inspected and seems to be ok. Perplexing since that "should" have been the problem.

Back out to the driveway he reassembles the parts and then takes the car around the block. No more rattling noise it seems. He gingerly pulls back in and asks me to drive it for another lap around the block, see if I hear anything odd or how it feels, me obviously knowing the car better than him.

Apprehensively I got behind the wheel, the smell of burnt something or other still floating through my vents. It was nerve racking, but there was no noise.


Back in the driveway, he again pops the hood, car still running. Seemed to be ok.

Seeeeeeemed being the operative word.

Ok, time for his lovely assistant Vanna (aka, ME) to get in the car as his head poked into the engine and rev the gas. Hmm. Ok.

So I sit, scootch the seat back allll the way up and hit the pedal. Ok, so far so good.

"Do it again"


"Ok, one more time."

And again, the engine bursts into flames. Clearly hell bent on killing me, or itself, and now my boyfriend.


I jump back in and pull out the keys. He's blowing frantically, trying to put out the fire.


So again, I place a call to 911.

"Hi my car is on fire in the driveway”, state the address and listen intently as the sounds of sirens and big red fire trucks get closer.

The Boy puts the car in neutral and rolls it down his hilly drive, so if it finally decides to blow up, it's at least not near the house.

As my flaming Fucus backs itself into the driveway, the frigid cold wind gusts just right and shortly puts itself out just as the red flashing lights stop in front of it.

Again, suited firemen, this time wielding a caravan of vehicles with them including the Hazmat team, circle the dead-end street.

They make their way to my smoking car, extinguisher ready and again ogle the engine. This time, they disconnected the battery and pretty much forbade any more activity with the car.

They laughed at me and told me I broke a record, having to file 2 of the exact same reports, in two different towns in the span of a few hours.

I always wanted to break a record. Some one call Guinness!

So now, no chance of fixing my car, I again make a call to my job. I let them know about fire number 2 and that I would certainly NOT be in that day.

Full of stress and anxiety, the Boy and I racked our brains as to what to do. I needed a car. We didn't know anyone with a second vehicle I could borrow for a few days, didn't have the money to rent anything, and certainly didn't think we had any money to buy a car.

We were thinking of some sort of pre-owned cheap something or other that may be able to get me by for a few months.

The Boy, in a stroke of genius, called his father who works at a dealership, just to see if there were any cheap (and by cheap we mean pretty much a rent-a-wreck status) cars I could finagle. Not really, so defeated we hung up.

How bad WAS my credit? Oh terrible. At last that's what I had come to believe for the past decade. I had assumed it was atrocious and never gave it another thought. I was stuck with a horrendous interest rate for a piece of shit car that I over-paid for in the Ghetto because it was so bad....right?


A point and click here, and a few keystrokes later and we find out thanks to the power of the internet, that it's actually not so bad. It's not super fabulous, but it was actually kind of ok.


We needed to test this theory. So back searching the interweb we apply for a small credit card. Each piece of info I entered, I followed with a silent "Yeah Right" in my head. On to the final page, I hit enter. APPROVED!

What?!?! Who are you and what have you done to my credit score??

"If you can get approved for a credit card, you can probably get approved for a car loan, it's worth a shot right?"

Another phone call to Daddy Dearest and we had given some more of my coveted financial info to someone to see what it looked like. Again, thinking some sort of basic cheap pre-owned something or other that would get me by.

"Can you come in tonight?" was the next call.

"Um, we'll try."

So off to load his poor kids (one of which was home with pneumonia during the whole "my car on fire" ordeals) into the car so their oh-so-generous grandmother could babysit and we could high tail it to his dad's work.

(My child thankfully already being babysat by my dear old mom)

So into traffic we went. Tail-lights illuminating the long drive as they flashed in front of us until we pulled into the dealership.

So we sit through the rigorous and lengthy process of talking to a sales guy, giving out more personal information and then laying in wait to hear the verdict. Just to even SEE what kind of previously owned something or other they MAY be able to hook me up with,

So off the man goes to obtain the keys of the car they want for me, the one they think fairly confidently they can get me into.

We look out the window with each car that passes through, wondering what sort of vehicular future awaits me.

Suddenly, a brand new 2011 beautiful car pulls up. Shiny and still plastic covered. And what do my wondering eyes should appear, but the sales guy we had been talking to!


Today I sit in wait, wait for the 100% go-ahead that I am going to be in a BRAND SPANKING NEW CAR for the first time ever in my life.

Cross every appendage you have people; I need all the help I can get!


  1. OMG! Two fires in ONE day. That's fricking insane. Good luck with the new car. I'm praying for you. It really is an amazing feeling to be driving a brand spanking new car and the first time it happened to me, I reacted much the same way you are. Unless the criteria is more rigid there than here, you'll get it.

  2. Oh and one more thing...YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK!

  3. GREAT story! Here's hoping for the extremely happy ending!


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