Friday, July 30, 2004
Post Scriptum: Cars and Dogs

When I got back from my post-garage-trip shift I ran into my landlord and her guy, who is living here now-- out of his suitcase for the time being. Permanence is a concept alien to my life of late. They had heard of my morning's encounter and informed me that the dog belonged to a neighbor and had gotten loose before. The last time it had attacked a woman. If I see this dog again, I need to call the police.

So, my tale of not judging a dog by its breed has become, instead, one of surviving a dangerous situation unscathed through the sheer power of not being awake enough to give a fuck. Take that, morning people!

But the car seemed to be doing much better. After everybody told me it was probably the alternator (I never thought it was the alternator, but everybody else was unshakably convinced of it,) the maligned component did a heroic job of charging up the battery. A few days later, having been asked to park on the street for a bit -- as a favor to housemate R. who had a visitor coming in from out of town -- I was able to start the car with no problem. It was two days after that, when I wanted to get the car back into the driveway, that it refused to start.

Further vindication-- everybody had been telling me that my car's problems were due to my neglect and mistreatment of the poor, suffering automobile. I let it sit in the driveway for weeks at a time, so of course a brand new battery would go completely dead in the summer! Lies and slander all of it. The car is not the victim here, rather I am its.

So I returned inside. "Guess what?" I asked the landlady's boyfriend.

"You got your tires slashed?"

It turns out that I had chosen for my street parking experiment the same week in which no less than six cars on our block had gotten their tires slashed. Please recall that these tires are even newer than the battery, that in fact they are basically where my tax refund is stored until I can fix the car up enough to sell the damn thing to some poor sucker who can then deal with its unremitting bloodymindedness in my stead.

I rushed out to check the tires. They were fine. I got yet another jump and pulled the car around back to the driveway.

If my bike starts pulling shit like this, I'll have no choice but to use the city bus-- which use will entail throwing myself in front of one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Whoooooo Doggy!
A Tale of Automotive and Canine Peril

I just stayed up all night so I could be sure to be up when my housemate got up. I did this because we have completely different sleep schedules and if I had gone to sleep I would have missed her. I did this also because I needed her help to get my car started. So I could get my car to a garage.

While I was waiting for her to wake up, I suddenly realized that if I needed to leave my car at the garage I'd be stranded in Takoma Park. Because the garage is not easy walking distance to the Metro Station (it turns out I was mistaken in this belief, but it nonetheless impelled me to plan and act). So I grabbed my bike and my car keys and went to see if I could fit my bike in the trunk.

So the scene: I'm in the driveway with the car's trunk open, in the process of removing the bike's front tire, when I hear loud barking not far off. I look up and see trotting towards me a very large pit bull. An attractive dog, but a pit bull nonetheless, and one that is barking at me. It's wearing a collar, but there is no owner in sight.

The dog looks at me. I look at it.





"I'm on my own damn property here, you're the one not where it belongs, so why you barking at me?"


At this point the dog steps into the driveway and part of me starts to panic. At first I try staring it down, but it just keeps looking and barking. Part of me wants to run, but I can't help but think that that would be the surest way to inspire the creature to charge me. So a compromise: I quickly walked away (calmly was a goal not quite reached) and bounded up the stairs to the back porch (brilliant! everyone knows dogs can't climb stairs!)

The dog approached closer.


"What!? I'm on my own damn property here!"

At this point a neighbor opened his door and the dog trotted off to explore this sound, possibly mangle the person making it. I returned to the car and finished getting the wheel off. When the bike was halfway into the trunk I heard another "WUFF!" behind me.

By this point I was resigned to my fate. If the beast took my leg off, I'd track down its owner and sue. I continued navigating the pedals over the trunk's lower edge. The dog trotted up to me, wuffed once more, then trotted off.

Just wanted to say hello.

"So it was friendly," said my housemate when I recounted the tale.

"It didn't tear my throat out."

"That's friendly for a pit bull."

Jumping the battery went smoothly, finding the garage took little effort. Part of my memory spent the drive up insisting that I had heard somewhere at some point that pit bulls are naturally very sweet animals, despite their intimidating looks, that it was only bad training that gave them their reputation for dangerousness. Maybe if my new friend shows up again I'll share a doggie biscuit and exchange light petting for a sloppy kiss... though probably not.

The guy at the garage tested my battery, found it fine, tested the alternator, found it fine, pronounced my electrical system in good health, and suggested I start the car at least once a week to insure the battery should stay charged in future.

Time well spent!

So I went grocery shopping and booze shopping and now I'm home and I really should try to catch some sleep; I need to head off to work in about 2 hours...

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