Monday, September 23, 2019

Happy trails

It was an ordinary business trip for Howard last week. Up to North Jersey, consult with a customer or two, drive back on the NJ Turnpike and be home in time for dinner.

I got the phone call at about 5:15 p.m. Howard had just driven into our community, turned the corner toward our house when his car suddenly stopped.

It stopped.

No warning lights, no gradual shutting down, no coasting toward the curb.

Just stopped.

He called the dealership whose mechanics have cared for our cars for so long we've lost count of the years.

Have the car towed in as soon as you can, he was told. It would be checked out first thing in the morning.

Hours later, the car resting comfortably (and still quite dead) in the dealership lot, it hit me out of the blue.

What if that car had suddenly stopped, say in the middle lane of the NJ Turnpike, where cars routinely speed by at 75 or 80 miles an hour? I could envision a chain reaction crash involving as many cars as were behind him, or the cars he would have hit as he was being struck from behind.

Would he have survived? Questionable at best.

When the mechanics checked the car, they found that the fuse block, a piece of the car's equipment of which I'd never even heard, had burned and destroyed all the connections to the fuses that run the car... every function controlled by a fuse was stopped cold. They removed the burned-out fuse block and replaced it with a new one... there, problem solved.

Only it isn't. Not in my mind anyway.

There was no explanation of what caused the fuse block to burn out. Freak occurrence. Hardly ever see one of these. No idea why. Just one of those things when so much of what the car does is governed by electronics.

Gee, thanks.

The blame can't be laid on the make of the car or the model. As strong as was the inclination to leave it at the dealership and trade for a new one, in the long run it really wouldn't have mattered.

Nor would it have guaranteed the problem would never recur. Flukes are flukes. That's why they call them accidents.

So, a warning. Not that you can do anything to avoid the possibility that one day you may be riding along, listening to your favorite talk show, music play list or podcast when suddenly you stop.

It's the thing nightmares are made of.


At September 23, 2019 at 7:10 AM , Blogger Endora said...

A very thoughtful post, Jeanne. It reminded me of the time my friend and I drove up north, a trip of about four hours, to bring my collie puppy Holly home. The drive was uneventful but the next morning, the car wouldn't start. It turned out that something had gone wrong with the starter. All I could think of was that I was glad this didn't happen and strand us in the north woods--with an eight week old puppy.

I've heard plenty of horror stories about new technology in cars. I'm holding on to my fourteen year old Honda.

I'm so glad Howard's car waited till he was almost home to malfunction; glad he's safe.

At September 23, 2019 at 11:15 AM , Blogger JeanneR said...

Thanks, Dorothy.I'll never truly be sanguine in a car, especially at high speeds, again.


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