Car History Part 2: Thelma


One good thing about the period where I hadn’t had my car was that I made really good friends with my co-workers. School was closer to work than my house, so I would usually walk there straight from school if I worked, which put me there an hour early. So I hung out in the lobby and joked around with whoever was working. But on days when I worked later, or on weekends, I still had to walk. It was a cold winter. I ended up being sick almost all of January, and missing out on some shifts because of it. That was not helping my car fund.

Finally, in April, my mechanic called. He knew we were looking for a car, and one of his customers was looking to sell his. I was excited beyond belief. I was getting a car! It was another Oldsmobile, a white LSS. Dale, my mechanic, checked it out for me and made sure it was in good condition before we bought it. I had to make some payments, because the insurance money wasn’t enough to cover it, but it was the best deal we were going to get. Once again, I had a car.

I named her Thelma, because she was an old lady. I had not seen Thelma and Louise, but I had heard of it, and I thought Thelma was the perfect name for my car. Unfortunately, that gave her a horrible fate.

On July 16th, one of the hottest days of the summer, I was driving to a nearby town for an orthodontist appointment. I had never driven there alone before. I took the wrong exit and ended up driving around lost for two hours. I stopped and asked for directions twice and still never found it. Finally, I got back on the freeway to head home. I was late for work. I called in to tell them I hadn’t forgotten my shift and that I would be there soon.  I stepped on the gas a little harder. I hated being late.

A few minutes later, I felt a thumping under the hood. “What’s wrong, Thelma?” I asked. I feel no shame in talking to inanimate objects. Thump. Thump. Thump. I pulled to the side of the road. Getting out of the car, I had no clue what to look for. I was on the side of the freeway, so I had to get out the passenger side. I glanced under the car and didn’t see anything weird with the tires. I couldn’t walk around the car, and I wouldn’t know what to look for under the hood, so I decided to keep driving and see what happened. I was already super late for work.

I got in the car and turned the key. The engine wouldn’t catch. I tried again. Steam started coming out from under the hood. Shit. I got out of the car, grabbing my purse out of instinct. I looked under the car again. There was a small fire underneath my car. THERE’S A FIRE UNDERNEATH MY CAR!  The next few moments are a blur. My car was smoking, someone yelled at me to get away from the car. Someone else called 911. One guy stopped, made sure I was ok, then had to leave cause he was in a hurry and really couldn’t do anything. My car was being consumed by flames.

This cannot be happening. Stop crying. Stop crying. It’s ok. This can’t possibly be happening. My only form of transportation could not be going up in flames right now. This has to be some crazy dream. I’m going insane. But I am not standing on the side of the freeway watching my car burn up. Not happening. My Ipod is still in there. Damn-it.

Some idiot teenage guys drove by and yelled “Its gonna blow!” I couldn’t stop sobbing. I don’t know what thought in particular made me cry, whether it was the loss of my car, or just the realization that this was happening to me.

It took almost an hour for the fire department to get there. Eventually, I was able to sit in an emergency response truck. The driver gave me some water to try to get me to calm down. Then I was moved to a police car to wait for my mom. I had called her once I knew the fire department was on the way. She was at work, but left almost immediately to come get me. Because it was after 5 on a weekday on the freeway, she didn’t get there until an hour after the fire department got there.  The police officer I was waiting with was super uncomfortable with a crying teenage girl in his car. “You know, I know this seems bad, but you’re really lucky. I was at two accidents where people died yesterday.” I sobbed harder. I am not crying because I am a superficial teenager in love with her car, though the fact I am now carless, AGAIN is not helping my state of mind. I know I could have died thank you very much; thanks for that reminder. Ass.

My mom finally got there. The fire department had already put out the fire. My car was a shell. The back was still somewhat in tact, but everything inside the car and trunk was destroyed. My Ipod, my work uniform, my awesome steering wheel cover. These were little things to notice, but they were little things on top of the fact that my CAR HAD JUST BURNED UP ON THE FREEWAY. I couldn’t process it.

I’d called work right after I called my mom. The same guy answered as when I’d called the first time. “Baskin Robbins, This is David”

“David, it’s Jeriann again. I won’t be able to make it into work. Um. My car’s on fire. Call Kanase. I have to go. Bye.”

Not the most put together explanation. It probably sounded like I made it up, except for the tears. My story wasn’t challenged though, because Kanase, my manager was on the freeway at the time, backed up because someone’s car was on fire.

Once my mom got there, we waited another 45 minutes for the tow truck. We had the car towed to my mechanic, and then mom took me out to dinner to help me calm down.

The next day, an insurance man checked out the car to figure out what happened. It turns out the left tire had shredded and broken the fuel line. And so, once again, this time in the middle of the summer, I started the great car hunt. Check out tomorrow to see part 3 of my car saga: Freddie

Posted on January 30, 2013, in cars, Life, memoir, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Marcella Rousseau

    I’m sorry to hear about your car : – (
    Please stop by and read my post about house fires.

  2. Marcella Rousseau

    P.S. I love your blog title: Dairyairhead. I got a good laugh out of that. Definitely unique!

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