You know when you read a great novel and you put it down and, as a writer (or even not), you wish you’d been able to write that? You wonder how that author did it.
Well, it’s like real life! Sometimes you just can’t make this s**t up!
As you are all very well aware, my baby turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and started college on Tuesday. Because it would require four or five hours stuck on a bus, we got her a little car. I knew that finding a used car in great condition for the money available would likely be a miss and I called up my childhood best friend’s dad who is a mechanic for his opinion. So we got a 2002 Honda Civic and on Monday night it turns out she had little to no oil. Got that topped up but her engine light came on Tuesday on her way to school and, as you know, I fretted until she got home. My brother took a look on Tuesday night and couldn’t find any spot where oil could be leaking. He reset the Engine Light and we were back in business.
She drove down to school yesterday and home with no issues. Today, part way down to school, on came the light.
So I took it upon myself to go to the store and get a couple liters of oil and head off down there thinking that that HAD to be the problem. I also called my friend’s dad and booked the car in for tomorrow morning for an oil change and to give it a once over. See if they can find out what the problem is. Drove down there, found her car in the sea of every automobile ever made and popped the hood. I went prepared with paper towels and everything. I had texted my bro to tell him I was going. He reminded me to tighten the gas cap… why or how would that ever be hooked up to an engine light by the way? I digress… Pulled the dipstick while two other dipsticks having their lunch in their car watched on, wiped it, dipped it and pulled it… guess what? Same as it was Tuesday when we pulled it. So IS there any oil leaking? Or were the previous owners just that stupid?
I tightened up the gas cap as he suggested and sent him a note asking if there was anything else I should try to check. He came up with nothing. So I popped one of the bottles of oil into her trunk for safe keeping and potential future use.
She did come and meet me, she had to because she had forgotten her laptop too. It was good to see she was accompanied by a friend.
That done, I left her there. I was debating on leaving her my SUV but then my thought was, if something happened on the way home, who was going to rescue me? IF something happens (and all fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen) on her way home, at least I can still go get her.
It has been an incredibly stressful week. One that I really didn’t need. I got ripped off of my two weeks vacation back-to-back and I wish I had another week to go yet. But no, I have to go back to work next week and work ALL week!
But that’s what I mean by not being able to make this up! Life comes at us from all directions and at all speeds. We can’t control it which is unfortunate, we just have to handle it as best we can.
When it comes to writing though, we can draw on these experiences to infuse more emotion and reality into it? When was the last time you ever checked the oil on a car? Honestly, I never had until now. On the flip side of all this, when I was in college, I had the unfortunate issue of a leaking block in my parent’s mini-van. In the warm weather months we were able to just top it up with water to make the trip down and back and usually filling it got me down and back but not this time. I had to go to the pay phone to call my mom and tell her there was a problem with the van. She came down, in my grandma’s car with a big jug of water and we filled it up. Then we got out of there and she followed me home. That was scary for a teenager under the age of 18 with no experience with anything of the sort.
I know the adage write what you know is old and overused. We shouldn’t always write what we know because we limit ourselves to what we know. Instead we should learn new things and share that with the world. But sometimes, just sometimes, we need to infuse parts of our writing with what we know. We can use that to make it believable for the parts that we are making up and want people to believe.