Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The incident of the Volvo oil cap

It was 1998, and we lived in Somerville, NJ, with one car. Mary taught at Princeton, and I taught at Drew, 45 minutes in the other direction. I was in a sort of DIY period, and had recently bought a book called Fix Your Bike Yourself. For me, this was very ambitious, almost starry-eyed.

So I drove our 1987 Volvo to Drew one Monday, and I had to get the car back to Mary so she could drive to class in the evening. Normally, it would have been no problem. However, as I pulled off 287 at exit 33, I had the distinct impression that there was smoke coming from the hood. And I was not wrong! And I knew what smoke meant. Fire!

Luckily, there was a fire station right there, with a garage, and I went back by the garage and this guy looked under the hood, and there was oil all over everything. Apparently, someone had been changing the oil and had not put the cap back on. That someone was of course Mr. DIY himself, alias moi meme. So he broke out some duct tape, covered up the oil putting-in area and advised me to get a real cap quickly (or, as Graham would have it "more quickerly").

So I go and teach class, with like an hour's wiggle room before I needed to get back to Somerville, and right after class I went to the nearest garage to figure out what to do. They told me of a dealer some 10 miles and two exits north and called to see that they had the part in stock. The gods smiled on me that day, as a very nice Asian woman, relative newcomer to this fair land of ours, driving a white 240 station wagon, offered me her oil cap as a loaner to get me up to the dealer. Naturally, I took the cap and ran, went up, bought another, raced back, returned hers, and then high-tailed it down the interstate back to Mary, who was getting a little nervous.

And this all took place long before we were hip or bemonied enough to have cell phones, so I hadn't even let Mary know how close we were to a major fuck up.


Anonymous said...

Enhancement cream can not only replace engine oil in a pinch but also helps lubricate hot engine parts and is entirely non-inflammable.

Anonymous said...

Once you have seen one Star Wars clone trooper you've seen them all.

Anonymous said...

Which common household item makes the best detective?
Toilet paper, it always gets to the bottom of things.

Anonymous said...

That's why I have a Harvard PhD change my oil. Them Yalies don't know dick.