Lesson #25: How to Have a Breakdown Without Having a Breakdown

by Rachel on September 14, 2010

My poor car Judy is so sick!

Yesterday I was almost to Eric’s office, dropping off a smoothie to him on my way to work, when my Blazer started to slow down…fast.

I was able to guide her right into a driveway off the road where she gasped for air — “Check gauges!” — and then died. She started right up again so I could get around the corner to his office, but I knew I shouldn’t get on the highway and drive to work.

So that was where the real breakdown could have happened.

I mean, any time you have car troubles, it sucks. It just does. It’s one of those pain-in-the-ass, wasn’t-planning-on-it-but-sure-I’d-love-to-spend-my-day-making-phone-calls-and-working-out-the-logistics-of-all-this things that you just have to deal with.

Oh, and of course, having a breakdown in a city where you have to drive everywhere — in the most awful traffic — and where you don’t know of  a trustworthy mechanic to take your car to is pretty much disastrous.

But in moments like this, I try really hard to not think about all the horrible things that could happen and I don’t let myself get overwhelmed by the possibility of a $500 repair. I just take it one step at a time.

Step 1. Call my boss and let her know I’m going to be late.

Step 2. Call my mom four times. She couldn’t really do anything, but I still call her in situations like these for reassurance.

Step 3. Start Googling mechanics nearby, then realize it’s useless. Ask Eric if I can just drive his car to work so I can deal with the mechanic search from my desk, as opposed to my car. (Even though my fabulous Droid found me four mechanics who were close within seconds!)

Step 4. Get to work, try to get work done while Googling some more, along with asking via Tweet and e-mail. Read some reviews, then call around and straight up tell them, “I’m new to the area and finding a new mechanic sucks. I want to feel comfortable coming to you.”

Step 5. Realize that this whole process is going to take a few days and that being carless in Houston is pretty much impossible.

Step 6. Ask Eric if I can shack up with him and share his car for a few days. Promise a long list of displays of gratitude.

Step 7. Get through the work day, then head home to pack up some of my things and make one of the displays of gratitude.

Pumpkin butterscotch cookies just might have the magical power to keep any breakdown from becoming a true breakdown. I felt like when I picked Eric up from work, the evening had the potential to really go downhill. It was hot (obviously) and we were both tired, plus we had to find the actual mechanic and drop my car off, plus run a bunch of errands. It could have been a total breakdown.

But I just didn’t want that. Yes, I hate when stuff like this goes wrong…but I also hate how I grew up in a household where stressful incidents like this lead everyone to bitch at each other. I understand why people get cranky and start snapping, because it’s easy to get frustrated by a situation. But I’ve also learned that the crankiness and snapping makes everything so much worse. You can’t focus on all the things that are going to happen and use that as a reason to hate on everyone around you. Cars break down every day, but somehow the world keeps on turning.

And in situations like these, it’s important to know that you have an excuse. You know I’m all about not feeling guilty. Well, when you’re dealing with a crappy situation like this that gets in the way of your normal routine, you can’t let the guilt of not being able to go to happy hour or the guilt of not having time to check your e-mail rule your life. When shit like this happens, remember: you have a good excuse. People will understand if you’re not on top of everything as usual.

So I really wanted to have a good night, even though I didn’t have the greatest day. And honestly, I think it was a matter of just deciding that and then acting on it. The pumpkin butterscotch cookies helped, as did the awesome TRX workout we had in the park and the dinner I made. I displayed my gratitude as much as I could because I really was grateful that Eric would make my problem his problem. Anyway, I think the good attitude and the good food helped because at the end of the night, we both agreed that it had actually turned into a pretty nice night.

But don’t get me wrong — this still sucks and the next few days are going to be such a hassle, not to mention rather expensive. It’s going to take everything I have in me not to take one look at the huge back-up of e-mails in my inbox or start thinking about what it’s going to cost to fix my car and not just turn to the pumpkin butterscotch cookies and dive in head first.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leah @ L4L September 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

You know, both of my parents have had blazers at some point and they suck the life (and money) out of you. They get to a point where everything starts to fall apart. My dad has put 2 new transmissions in his Blazer already. YUCK. I’ve been trying to get him to sell the thing but he doesn’t want payments for a new rig. Don’t blame him.


2 Rachel's Mom September 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Leah, our mechanic here in Michigan said Blazers were really reliable and would run forever, so I hope your situation is not typical! We had him check it out before we bought it, and he said it was in good shape. We don’t need the life or money sucked out of us, trust me!


3 MelissaNibbles September 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

I’m sorry to hear Judy is under the weather.

I like your attitude. Turn it into a positive! You get to spend more time with your man :)


4 Rachel September 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

Awww good thinking! :)


5 Sher September 14, 2010 at 9:05 am

Ooh! One of those horrible horrible days! Keep up with your winning attitude and this too shall pass:) Hugs!!!


6 Stephanie @ Single in the City September 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

Attitude is everything and you have the choice to make the decision how you’ll handle a crisis when it rears it’s ugly head. Kudos to you for choosing not to freak out and making the best of a not-so-ideal situation.


7 Trinidad Pena September 14, 2010 at 10:06 am

Can you fedex me some cookies?


8 Summer September 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

Give Judy my best. I’ll have to send over a bouquet of dipsticks.

I think you made the right choice with pumpkin butterscotch cookies…I just drooled in my keyboard thinking about them again. Good luck with the car; I’m going through that, too. Abe, my Lincoln, needs a new air compressor and new tires—the wires and strings have begun to peek through. Good luck!


9 Rachel September 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

“Abe, my Lincoln…”



10 ashleigh September 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

Great advice, as always! It really is so easy to just snap at people around you and let everything spiral out of control when something sucky happens. Way to turn that mess into delicious treat! Those look yummy!


11 kate September 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

“Call my mom four times. She couldn’t really do anything, but I still call her in situations like these for reassurance.”

LOL, that is pretty much my step1 in any potential meltdown sitch. glad i’m not the only one.


12 isabel September 14, 2010 at 11:54 am

Yep. Just like Kate, step 2 is often my Step 1…and then every other step from then on. Whatev, we all need moral support.


13 highonhealthy September 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I hate car troubles! They’re seriously one of the worst things. My car has been pretty good but it died on my last August.. totally my fault too. No one told me that you shouldn’t continuously drive with the gas light on so I did that for about a year and it ended up killing my fuel pump. The price of stupidity? $900. I hope your car troubles cost a lot less!


14 Kendra September 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Aww, I hope that Judy is well again soon!

I’ve had a few car breakdowns happen and it really does suck. I love that the thing that seemed logical in this situation was to make cookies.


15 Rachel September 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Don’t judge meeeeee!


16 Kat September 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Yeah, I’m definitely making those cookies soon. I’m so sorry Judy is sick! I hope she gets better soon, as painlessly as possible on your end! I’m like you – I totally call my mom when anything like this happens, even if she’s hundreds of miles away and can’t do anything about it and I end up acting like a bitch on the phone.


17 Katie September 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

So helpful to just stay calm… cause getting all anxious and mad gets me NO where. You handled it so well!!

I would really like to innocently refer a friend to this but I think I might offend… hmmm


18 Jackie (Peaces of Earth) September 14, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Oh man, your car is sweet!!! Sorry to hear she’s sick! I’ve called AAA one too many times myself so I understand your pain. Letting it ruin your day definitely makes it so much worse – it happens what can you do! I’m glad you got to bake some yummy cookies because of it. They look freaking delicious!


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