Most every driver has experienced it and when it occurs, it can send a jolt of terror right down one’s spine. Absolute true horror…
Last Friday started off as usual; get up, write for an hour, take a shower, dress and head off to work. Stopping at the most convenient spot along the way, a large gas station, again nothing appeared unusual as I picked up my mandatory two cans of green tea, a bottle of juice, a banana and a medium coffee. Why so many drinks? My job is rather hot and besides keeping a steady supply of water flowing, the flavors break the monotony. Of course, there are many times when simply wet is a wonderful thing and taste has nothing to do with it, but that’s another story. Regardless, my stock for the day obtained, back to the car I went.
Interstate 95 runs right alongside this station and so I easily turned on the entrance ramp, headed north and set the cruise control for the eight-mile journey ahead of me.
Flipping over the plastic cover lid on the disposable coffee cup, I took a sip. The robust Columbian flavor meshing with the hazelnut creamer tasted especially well and I took another. No sooner had I done so when the car’s electronic door locks mysteriously clicked up and then back down. Perplexed, I set the cup in the console holder. To say it was odd would be an understatement and a collision of fear and bewilderment filled my head, pondering why something that should never occur while traveling at seventy miles an hour…did.
Not long after, within a mile or so, this occurred again, but this time my cruise control kicked off, the speedometer flat lined and the car appeared to have lost all power. I lifted my foot off the gas pedal and started to pull over when, all of a sudden as if it was some demented practical joke, everything went back to normal. Thoughts of possession entered my mind and the humor of it made me nervously chuckle. And, with everything operating normal, I pushed on.
Lo and behold, wouldn’t you know that a mile before the first of two exits I pass daily, this all happened again, far worse this time; lugging, back to normal, lugging, back to normal and so I pulled over, called my boss to give him the veritable bad news and sat on the side of the road pondering probably needing a tow.
For whatever reason, I turned the key over and the car started right up and ran unfazed. Now, I was really starting to wonder. This wasn’t like, say, a water pump or an alternator, which coincidently being the part-time backyard mechanic, I am able to easily diagnose and fix. These symptoms were completely off the chart…definitely electronic…and most assuredly something that required much more than my standard automotive expertise.
I turned on the hazard lights, did a U-turn at the exit, remained off the edge of the beaten path and gradually worked my way back the way I had come at the tremendous speed of twenty-five miles an hour. All the while the car kept going back and forth, from normal to extreme problem and back. It wasn’t overheating or anything that excessive and so I kept inching along.
Along the way, I pondered where I was going. After all, there was no way I was going to rectify this in my driveway, even if I did have a rather large set of tools.
There are a number of shops around the area and any one of them could have probably fixed this problem, but this one single place kept invading my mind, not because I had experienced with them, but because I had simply chatted with the proprietor a couple of times in passing and he seemed like a rather good fellow; and honest person who just so happened to have recently opened a garage not far from my home.
Now, as most will probably attest, a good mechanic is an absolute in this day and age, and an honest one is even more important. So, when you happen to stumble on one that incorporates both qualities, one has a tendency to become faithful.
Regardless, I was able to drive the car to the shop and for the next fifteen or so minutes, we brainstormed the problem. I don’t mind saying that all the while I was feeling more and more at ease. His knowledge was impressive and although I suspected, regardless of where the work was done, that any bill would be in the neighborhood of an arm and half a leg, I decided to give him a chance, keep the business where it needed to belong…in a small, hometown shop; something that is desperately needed in today’s economy.
The mechanic’s name is Mike Lanahan, but I refer to him as, call it a horror thing if you will, Dr. Mikenstein, and his shop is called Accurate Automotive.
Well, to make a long story short, it was one of my wiser decisions. Dr. Mikenstein was nothing less than meticulous, taking great care of my vehicle. The needed part was something out of the ordinary and while it did take a few days to orchestrate the overall job, he did his best in getting me back on the road in a timely fashion.
Having telephoned a few times prior to work completion, there was only once was Mike was unable to come to the phone and his joyful wife Teri took over the duties, being most helpful. Coincidently, I might add that at the time, according to Teri, Mike was elbow deep in grease, dirt and who knows what else. From experience, I pictured a wrench slipping and sliding around in a hand covered in blackened sludge.
Then came the day when it was all finished. My horror was almost over, all except for the yellow sheet of paper…the bill.
As I glanced over it, reading dollar numbers for parts and labor, I couldn’t help but to smile. It wasn’t what I was expecting; under what he initially quoted and initially I thought it was wrong. Of course, I wasn’t going to argue either and as I reached for my wallet, the dread fluttered away.