February 7th, 2011

Homer Do Not Ride The Bomb

I should have taken the blue pill

Last time I used my roommate's pickup, I noticed there was a squeaking noise coming from the engine.  The same kind of squeaking noise my car made when it needed a new serpentine belt.  So my roommate made an appointment for me to take his car to the dealer for service today.  (It also needed some repairs to the passenger seat belt.)

I start up the engine this morning and it starts making a horrendous racket.  I quickly backed up a couple feet so I could get to the hood and killed the motor.  I was hoping maybe it was some ice on the fan blades, but I quickly spotted the problem: the serpentine belt had shredded itself!

While my roommate called AAA, I cut the remnants of the belt off the pulleys, backed the car out and parked it in the driveway where it could be easily picked up. Without the belt, the truck can be driven a short distance, but without the alternator and cooling fan, you won't get very far, and without the power steering pump, it requires a lot of muscle.

After an hour or so, a flatbed tow truck showed up, then promptly got stuck in a snowbank trying to turn around.  They had to tie off to a tree and winch themselves out.  Not a very auspicious start.

They got the truck loaded without incident, but I had to ride in the middle of a very crowded tow truck cab to get a ride to the dealer.

I get there and they tell me they'll have to order a new belt and give me a laundry list of other problems.  I thought they meant they would be keeping the truck for a a day or two so I asked if they had a loaner car.  They gave me a Toyota Matrix.

This car was obviously designed for little tiny Japanese people, because I managed to smash my knee into a molded plastic piece on the door every single time I got in the car.  They couldn't have positioned it any better for maximum injury if they'd had my measurements.

I finished with my shopping (Smack!  OW!  Dammit!) and I'm about halfway home when I get a phone call.  They're done with the truck and it's ready for my to come get it.  Uh, what?  It turned out they were just going to do all the other work, return the truck, then make another appointment when the parts came in.  $1200 later I'm back on my way home.

About the only good thing to happen today is I managed to get stunnel working on my Ubuntu netbook.  It's easy as pie to configure under Windows but it's a royal pain in the ass setting it up under Linux.