Two weeks ago:
I accidentally hit a curb in my car, apparently hard enough to damage the sidewall of the tire. An ominous-looking bump appeared, rendering the car undriveable until we got a replacement tire. We had a spare but for some reason there was something wrong with the spare that Jason explained and I don't know I wasn't listening zzzzzzzzzboring, look, you're going to need to accept that I am a Classic Awful Girl when it comes to car stuff and move on, okay?
One week ago:
Jason finally made up his mind about the tire, because you know how he is about tires. He ordered a "slightly used" tired off eBay to save us from having to replace multiple tires, because the other tires were fine, at least according to the highly scientific tread-measurements we conducted using various coin of U.S. currency and also zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzboring.
In the meantime:
Jason worked from home most days, other days we haggled and juggled and chauffeured everybody around in the other car, like pilgrims or whoever it was who lived in the days of everybody only having one car.
Jason mentions that it's probably time to maybe start thinking about replacing the clutch on the other car, our now semi-only car. The car is only seven years old, but apparently the clutch on this particular car wears out much sooner because it was a poor match for the car's power according to the guys on the forums, at which point I mime passing out and drooling, because our car has a FORUM, haaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzboring, I only watch Top Gear for the parts where shit gets blown up and Captain Slow gets lost.
I noticed the car is revving a bit more than usual in first gear. I blame the air conditioning. I do not turn off the air conditioning, I just glare at it real pointedly-like.
FedEx claims our new-old tire is out for delivery and should arrive any minute. FedEx is a filthy liar. I leave to pick Noah up from school in the other car. It's...revving a lot, in the lower gears. It's...wow, that's really embarrassing sounding, you know? It sounds like I have no idea how to drive a stick shift and am burning out the clutch at every stoplight and...wow, I AM burning out the clutch at every stoplight, if that awful smell is any indication.
I attempt to solve the problem by turning off the air conditioning and lowering the windows. I should really apply for The Amazing Race or something.
By the time I get to Noah's school, however, it's clear that the air conditioning has nothing to do with it, like NO SHIT SHERLOCK, and I ponder my options:
1) Call Jason, get instructed to turn the air conditioning off, get into a snippy fight about that because SHERLOCK, NO SHIT, ask him to put the baby and himself in a car with an about-to-blow tire to come get Noah and I, have him arrive only for the car to magically fix itself and drive totally fine because THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AND YOU KNOW IT.
2) Risk it and drive home.
I go with option 2 because:
1) The car is driving fine in the higher gears, if I can just get to the highway without having to stop too many times I'll be okay, and
2) It's not like a clutch just up and dies completely in the span of 24 hours, right?*
*I fully admit that I have NO IDEA what the actual accepted answer to this question is, but it sounded good at the time.
Of course, I hit every. Single. Red light. Between his school and the highway. The on-ramp is backed up and we slow to a crawl. I beg the car to stay in second. BEG. Out loud, alternating between soothing little-engine-that-could pep talks and profanity-laden threats of selling it for scrap. Shit, I lose second. First is completely fucked. Rev rev REV! We're still moving and I bash the shifter around trying to get the car to go into any gear. Pick a gear! Come on! You can do it! Or I will set you on fire! Yay!
We get on the highway and away from the traffic and I'm in fifth gear and the car is revving up close to the red band and we're going...40 miles an hour. And dropping. The car's essentially in neutral and I realize that okay, OKAY. This isn't going to happen, time to cry uncle and pull over.
The second my brain finally makes this brilliant, belated decision, there's a loud BANG, like a tire blowout, and a puff of smoke. I make it to the side of the road and stop the car, where my OH SHIT NOW WHAT problem-solving session is immediately interrupted by Noah.
(Aside: Of course this would happen right when Noah is in that stage where he's just fully realized that cars get into accidents and people get hurt and ambulances and fire trucks are more than just fun sirens. The other car's "bumpy tire" has been a point of constant obsession with him, especially since he overheard me take responsibility for hitting the curb, which meant Mommy was in a Car Accident, which is a Big Scary Deal.)
He's terrified. "Did someone hit us? Did we have a car accident?" he asks, over and over again. I try to reassure him that we're okay, that something just broke on the car but we're okay! We'll be okay! PLEASE ALLOW THE CONSTANT HOLLOW PROMISES COMING FROM MY MOUTH TO SERVE AS YOUR PERSONAL 'EVERYTHING IS OKAY ALARM'.
Next, I call Jason and freak out all over the place at him. The clutch! The car! There was a bang! And smoke! Shit just got REAL, MAN.
Jason asks if I'd tried turning off the air conditioning. I temporarily pixelate myself into invisible radio wave particles that travel through my phone to go murder him on the other end. Then I say yes.
Miraculously, I discover that I have a AAA card in my wallet. Even more miraculously, it has not expired.
Last Friday Until Like, RIGHT NOW, Oh My God, Is What It Felt Like:
AAA promises a tow, escalates my case because there's a child in the car and other cars are flying by at high speeds, and I watch them from my side mirror in a total panic because a truly SHOCKING number of people have serious issues STAYING ON THEIR SIDE OF THE WHITE LINE.
A cop arrives and sets out some flares and promises to check back soon to make sure the tow truck arrives, and I think back to the only other time I was ever stranded on the side of the road after a tire blew out on this very same car, on this very same stretch of highway.
(That blow out was fully and wholly Jason's fault because he took the car to some kind of crazy rally racing thing, where he wore all the tread off the tires in a single day, and then got all caught up in further endless comparison shopping about finding the perfect tires.)
(Apparently there are all sorts of options besides "round.")
I call Jason back just to point out that hey, are you noticing a pattern here? You put off some kind of important general maintenance thing and yet I'm the one who nearly dies in a fiery blaze of horror on I-270?
We also agree that he should probably risk driving the other car and come get poor Noah, who greets this news not with relief, but SHEER UNADULTERATED PANIC, because of the BUMPY TIRE! We can't drive with the BUMPY TIRE! We will have a CAR ACCIDENT! The compliceman will YELL AT US! And every other assorted car safety lesson I have ever spouted at him suddenly came back and bit me in the ass. And here I didn't even think he'd been listening.
Jason arrives and offers to stay with the Bad Car while I drive the boys home in the Not Quite As Bad Car. I eye the other car and decide that you know what? I'd really rather stay with the one that's a bit further along in the broke-down-towing process. Thanks though!
I get to ride in a tow truck for the first time ever! It's not really as fun as you'd think.
(I pretended like I wasn't taking this picture because OMG, who takes pictures while in a tow truck? Me? Noooooo. Except yes.)
I take a cab home from the auto repair shop, since Jason broke out in a case of post-bumpy-tire-traumatic stress once he got the boys safely home and didn't want to drive it again. He sends me a text message, though, while I'm waiting for the cab to arrive:
new tire just came.
New tire installed on the one car, still sitting around in the zero sum game of Everything Going To Shit All At Once, waiting to hear back from the auto shop about whether the clutch went peacefully or if that bang sound managed to take out the entire transmission in a glorious flaming act of automotive murder-suicide. The guys on the forums said it might be the flywheel or half shaft or clutch hub or maybe the shaftyshaftzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzboring.