Thanks to my lovely boss and equally lovely co-workers, I ended up leaving at 1:30 on Thursday and driving down the 101, a much prettier drive with more places to stop along the way than the afore-mentioned evil I-5. Zhadi (my car) started the drive like a champ… until I made my first pit-stop. Then she decided to sputter and die as I was driving back to the freeway. She started up again right away and we headed back out on the 101. About twenty minutes later the speedometer and RPM meter dropped to zero and the emergency brake light came on.
Excuse me, car, the emergency brake is NOT on. So… wtf?
The engine didn’t sputter, though, so I kept driving. About every ten minutes the readout on the dashboard did its little drop, then swung back up so I could see how fast I was actually driving. I tried to ignore it. Stopped for gas and coffee again… got back on the freeway on a very bumpy stretch… and the readout started dropping every other minute, along with the fuel gauge. “You have a full tank! Oops, no you don’t, you’re on empty! Oops… full! No, Empty!!! WHEEEEEE!!!!”
So I’m thinking it’s either an electrical problem or demonic possession.
I stopped in Santa Maria for gas and a break from the psychotic dashboard readout. I was tired, stressed and fighting a nasty ass headache. I put the gas pump in, ran to the bathroom, got back in the car and drove off … with the gas pump in the tank. The loud KATHUNK clued me in. The gas station owner was very sweet. He told me they made the pumps and hoses breakaway because this happened a lot. Then he gave me a free cup of coffee and a virtual pat on the head.
Zhadi behaved like a champ the rest of the drive until I pulled up to my sister’s house. Then the oil light flashed on. Too tired to deal with it, I parked and called it a night.
This morning I went out to check the oil and discovered I’d locked my keys in the car. An hour and one tow truck driver later, I retrieved the keys, added three quarts of oil and drove Zhadi to the garage in Torrance (the town where I was born, btw). She is there now, being tended to by the wonderful honest mechanics at Lightfoot’s Garage. They suspect the wacky readout was caused by loose battery cables… but I’m standing by with a young priest, an old priest and a dose of ‘The Power of Chrysler Compels You” just in case…