On Saturday I left my apartment around 8:30 in the morning to drive down and visit my family in southern Sweden. I had hoped to leave Friday afternoon but got stuck at work. Seeing as how I have no heat my car, I wasn’t too excited about driving down late at night. It tends to get cold.
So Saturday morning I bundle up. Hoodie, hat, gloves and a jacket just in case and I am ready to go. Immediately, I am cold and have to pee. Because despite being 25, I still am not responsible enough to pee before I leave the house to drive for five hours.
As I’m driving, I’m listening to my iPod. Because along with not having any heat, my radio doesn’t work. All the while I am shivering. I’m pretty sure driving for five hours was the best workout I’ve had in quite some time. My traps were sore the next day. It was quite the workout.
But I made it through the drive without incident, which, considering my history of running out of gas, having my battery die, or nearly losing a tire, seemed like a small victory. While I was visiting my family, I changed to the winter tires as required by law here in good old Sweden.
Since my winter tires had been sitting unused for a few months, I decided I would go to the gas station and put a little air in them. So I got into my car. And turned the key. And the car started. And the car died. And my sore traps sagged.
I am not good with cars. The only things I know how to fix have been forced upon me because I buy old run down cars. I can change a muffler for example and am capable of using enough duct tape to get a 1989 Saab 9000 to drive me home. But I cannot open the hood and look in and figure out what is wrong. It doesn’t help that my manual is written in French. I’m surprisingly ok with all of this until my car dies. At which point I am surprisingly angry at myself.
This time was worse. For a variety of reasons. One being that I had scheduled an appointment to get the heat fixed with my local mechanic, local meaning Stockholm, on Monday morning. My car died on Saturday. Suddenly, I was faced with the possibility that what should have been a relatively simple fix of the heating system would result in me just junking the car.
So after some phone calls to my old man in the US (who, by the way, has received phone calls from me about car trouble from various corner of the globe, including Australia) I was able to get the car started. Kind of. If I kept the RPMs revving high enough I could go places. Of course, that makes stop signs and roundabouts troublesome.
With ample use of my emergency lights, I was able to get my car to a mechanic. Of course, mechanics are closed on the weekend so I left it out front with a little note saying please steal me so I can get insurance money (that’s not true... I do not endorse insurance fraud). Turns out, that very night the mechanic was the victim of a little vandalism and several cars were broken into. Mine was not amongst them.
Instead of driving home at a leisurely pace on Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on a cramped bus for over seven hours. In silence. In the dark. The clocks had changed the night before so suddenly the sun was setting around 4:15 in the afternoon. And I was sitting on a bus in total silence, wondering how much I would have to pay to have a functioning car.
The call came Monday morning. I prepared for the worst. I had eaten some yogurt in advance just in case. The mechanic had taken a look, it wasn’t a big deal, parts and labor to get the car running, the heat working, and even the radio playing, would be less than $500. I let out an awkward relieved laugh. You know the one. Kind of high pitched while exhaling.
So I have a working car again. Kind of. Because it is parked nearly 600 km away from home. Looks like I have another bus ride in my future.
Welcome to Sweden. Where driving down South might result in a bus ride back North.