Running It In Will Run You Down

, , , , , , | Working | December 12, 2019

I arranged to drive three friends to Adelaide — about an eight-hour drive — on Thursday night, and head back on Sunday night. We were meeting friends there, we had hotel rooms booked, and we had booked a laser tag session to run from midnight to dawn on Sunday morning. 

Yeah, this was a while ago and the nearest laser tag was 800 km away. We were young; it seemed like a good idea.

My car was running poorly and some major part needed to be replaced — like the differential. I took it to a mechanic, who agreed to do it on Thursday. I chose Thursday for the repair because I was going to pick up my friends straight after work, so I would have to drive that day anyway. The mechanic was near the office. I specifically mentioned that I needed to be sure it would be ready, as I was driving to Adelaide straight after picking it up. 

When I went to pick up the car, the job was done — hooray — but then, he handed me a piece of paper with the instructions for running the new part in! And they were pretty incompatible with blowing a quarter of the way across the country overnight. I can’t remember the details, but it was something like not exceeding 80kph for the first 500km, and letting the car cool down for half an hour after each hour of driving.

I was ropeable! I specified to the mechanic exactly why I needed the repair and exactly what my driving plans were. Surely if he knew his job he would have known about the running in that was needed. I don’t remember what I said but I was furious. If I had known about this I could have had the work done earlier, found another car, or found us places in the other cars that were driving across. But this late in the day, there was nothing to be done. I was going to let my friends down. We’d been planning this trip for weeks.

The mechanic looked at me, confused, and asked, “Do you have a stressful job?”


But after that, there was just such a blissful ignorance about the man — he could not understand why I was angry — that my anger started to dissipate. It was fruitless; we were where we were, and shouting wasn’t going to fix it. He did the sensible thing and put me on the phone with the parts supplier. The supplier understood why I was angry and agreed the mechanic was an idiot. Then, he talked me through how to run the part in on our road trip.

It meant that instead of four drivers taking turns to drive straight through with only a toilet break, we spent a lot of time waiting by the roadside for the engine to cool, or sitting in roadhouses drinking coffee we didn’t want. Instead of arriving at the hotel at one or two am, we got there at nine. Oh, well, we can sleep all day. Yeah, no. The temperature quickly rose to 40C in our cheap and un-air-conditioned hotel room, and the busy building site across the street had already started its day’s work. We never did make up the sleep deficit over the weekend, making the drive back on Sunday a whole different kind of adventure.

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