I am in Matfield Green, Chase County, Kansas, population 47. I fought to get here and now I am in a place where the endless green prairie meets the sky giving me an odd feeling of being on the bottom of a fish bowl.
The fight? My car, traffic, my car, construction, my car. I had, yes had, a 1996 Subuaru Legacy wagon, 194,000 miles. After a goodbye dinner with my friends, turning over my apartment to a trusted subletter, I drove away and got 30 miles into New Jersey and my car died on the Turnpike. I was not even suppose to be on the Turnpike, I made a wrong turn. Calling AAA, a tow truck came, but they were not AAA, as AAA was not allowed on the Turnpike. So this tow took me 1/2 mile to a parking lot where I waited for AAA who towed me to a very nice auto repair shop that was just closing. They recommended I go home, but I have no home now, so they recommended I get a rental car and hotel which I did. It was not easy NJ hotels do not seem to like dogs. After several “no ways” I found a hotel who charged me an extra $100 a night for the dogs. The next morning they tried to tell me it is $100 per dog but there was no way I was giving in to that.
I waited for the auto shop to call, and by noon I had to check out so I went back. Turns out they had to replace my fuel pump. A little detail that I left out is that they suspected the fuel pump which could mean taking the seats out of the car, a car filled with materials for my artist residency. I had to unload about 250 pounds of stuff into a back of a pick-up truck stored on their lot. Anyhow, they fixed the car, and anticipating a bill that was higher than the price of my car ($2,500) I was thrilled when it was only $450. They did a tune-up, tightened some rattling bolts and by 2pm I was on my way again. Two hundred and fifty miles later, the tachometer dropped, accelerator dropped, temp gauge dropped, and engine failure. I called AAA, they came and got me, again. This time the young ambitious tow truck driver said he would take me to a Subaru dealer/service center, then to a hotel. Homer, who was too afraid to jump into the tow truck was carefully lifted in by the driver. It was about 9pm as we drove to the dealership, then to his auto body shop and finally the hotel. He watched the dogs as I got my room, I gave him a handsome tip for being kind, entertaining, and getting me safely back.
I figured it was the car’s computer, but could be total electrical failure. I would have to wait until they opened to find out. In the meantime I got on-line and checked out cars. I knew I needed a new car but I thought I could wait until I got to NM, and I was not about to be sold something I cannot afford in my state of duress. Most all the cars were 2014 and too expensive. There was a 2006 Subaru Outback, 103,000 miles, and affordable if they still had it. I called the next morning and the service center only did oil changes on the weekend. The Subaru techs would not be in until Monday. I was not about to stay in that PA hotel two more night, plus my artist residency in Matfield Green, Outpost Studio, was beginning on Sunday. I asked them to send someone to come pick me and the dogs up, I want to buy a car. Yes, I was about to walk into a car dealership, something I have never done in my life and buy a car.
The dealership was quiet with several sale’s people, salesmen and one saleswoman. I went right to her, to Katie. I told her the problem, what I want, we talked, I tested the car I saw on-line and we made a deal. They began the paperwork as I got on-line and ordered a duplicate title for my car. You see, I am leaving my old car at the dealership, and will have a charity organization tow it away for a tax credit, but I must have the title. The title is packed away in some box in NYC and I was not going back for me. Katie and the staff worked with me. I have to pay NYC sales tax but I am not going back to NYC. The check would be cut from the dealership and the title information sent to me via Fedex once I got to where I am going. For now, that is Matfield Green Kansas.
I did make it on Sunday, not at 11am but at 7pm. The artmaking has begun.