What a week. Thursday afternoon I purchased my very own 1991, beat up old, Mitsubishi L300 van. It’s white with scraped-off remnants of an electrical company logo on the side and cow-print seat covers. After spending some time with Anna, the seller and local traffic cop, I drove my new used vehicle to Matilda’s the local 24 hour petrel place for a fill-up and to stock up on chocolate and Vegemite. All was looking good. The next morning I woke up relieved that I wouldn’t be spending my first half hour of the day peddling through gravel and arriving at the zoo sticky with sweat. After taking my time getting ready I headed to the van, hoisted myself into the drivers seat, turned the key…and nothing.
Feeling embarrassed and naive I headed around to the front of the motel where I found Jim, the owner, cleaning the pool. Attempts at jumping the battery were unsuccessful and Jim’s wife Cheryl drove me to the zoo. After spending my day scrubbing bird crap off of cement in the aviary, I got a lift down the road to the mechanic who had recently inspected the van (according to the receipts Anna had given me.) I explained myself to Alan (of Alan and Scott’s Mountain Motors) who kindly let me know that I had paid too much for the van. He must have seen the hurt on my face and anticipated the tears were surly on their way, because he quickly rushed me into his office where he was on the phone with the RACQ (Australia’s version of AAA) before my tear ducts even had a chance to produce. After hanging up he let me in on the plan. “Here’s the deal, they have no idea your car has already broken down… I just told them I inspected it and think there could be alternator troubles soon.” So with that I was off to the RACQ where I signed up for a years worth of coverage for about $25 US.
This morning I contacted the RACQ and they were out to jump the battery in no time flat! The RACQ man did some investigating and decided the problem was most likely in the alternator. Since he was able to jump the battery with no problems, I was set to drive the thing to the mechanic myself. Of course this probably would have worked out better if I hadn’t arrived at the wrong mechanic first, turning off the engine and allowing it to die. I guess if I’m going to do stupid things like that, it good forethought to do them in front of a mechanic. After the second jumpstart of the morning, I got the van and myself to the correct mechanic. He’s going to take a look at it Monday, and if I’m lucky (which we all know I’m not) it’ll be the alternator, which should be covered due to the fact that Anna just had the alternator “fixed.” She’s actually been quite helpful, calling up the mechanic and bullying him for me as well as calling me back several times to see if she could help. Although I didn’t think so at first, I truly don’t think she meant to rip me off.
On the way back home my bad luck streak continued. Immediately after pulling my bike out of the back of the van, I could tell something was a bit off with it now too, but I rode it home anyway with the gears making a scraping and clicking noise all the way. Because of the day’s distractions, I mistakenly rode down what I’ll refer to as Magpie Road. I give it this name because of a particular Magpie bird that lives there and obviously believes it to be his very own road. Most days I’m able to cycle through with only a few swift blows to my helmet, but today seamed to be a good day for the Magpie and a bad day for me. I counted a record, five full on strikes to my helmet, the final strike followed up by a yank to my pigtail either by beak or talon. I think Magpies must be related to the American crow. They’re a pretty substantial sized bird with black and white markings, and equally, if not more, annoying. Jim at the motel took a look at my bike and said “You’re just a mess aren’t you?”