A Bad Week

I’ve been having a bad bloody week. One might say a bloody bad week even. I took my car to a garage for some routine maintenance, and, while it was driving just fine when I dropped it off, the engine literally started to splutter and jitter and buck just as soon as I drove it out of there, and by the time I drove it a mile down the road there was smoke pluming out of it and a good portion of the engine oil had burned off. This is the second time this has happened to me in recent years and this is the second mechanic whose door I shall never again darken. One does not mind paying for a mechanic, but when your car goes in drivable and comes out undrivable then it makes one wonder just a little bit if foul play is afoot. Of course mechanics will generally blame you or make out it’s a total coincidence, but that doesn’t really make the frustration any less….frustrating.

My car sounding like it has Covid after routine maintenance.

On Saturday morning I was wide awake at 3am and, after lying in bed for several hours I decided to march into town and catch the 6.30 train to Athlone to get some pictures in the soft light of the dawn. On arrival, I headed towards the Shannon to capture a particular picture I had in mind. However, when I got there I saw there was a barrier erected and straightaway decided this was a perfect time to use my little drone and so I hastily took it out of my bag, connected it, and promptly took off, hopping it off the branch of a tree that was directly over my head. (Note to self: always look up before takeoff). A second too late I saw this was about to happen and I pulled down hard on the joystick, smashing the drone off of the ground and snapping off the end of one of the wings. Oooops. I don’t know if I was utterly brain dead from lack of sleep, or what, but for some reason I didn’t really feel emotional about this at all, not until later anyway. I put my broken drone away and plodded onwards.

I take out my normal camera opposite St Peter and Paul’s Carhedral, and crouch to get a better angle. After I take what I think are satisfying photos, I stand up a bit too quickly and feel slightly dizzy and like I might topple forward into the Shannon, but I don’t. Curiously, my first worry is not about the very real prospect of drowning, it is of the thought of ruining my camera as well as my drone on the same day, which would make me carless, droneless, and cameraless all in one week. I really do not seem to be firing on all six cylinders today and wonder if one is safer to just lock oneself in one’s bedroom and never venture out into the world at all. The world has teeth, and it can bite you with them at any time it wants to – or worse – break your expensive stuff.

St Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, Athlone
I nearly drowned for the sake of this photo. lol

The following Tuesday I take my car to a second mechanic to put right whatever the first one did. He’s a Polish chap and a very good communicator. He rings before and after every step he completes, gives his opinion, and asks if he should do the next step and continually updates you on what everything will cost. The level of communication from this guy is something I have never experienced before. At one point he orders parts and tells me that if installing them doesn’t fix my problem then he will simply send them back and there will be no charge. I have never heard the likes of this in twenty years of dealing with mechanics. Usually, they dump parts in, you pay for them, and it’s tough titty if your car is still broken. They might even toss in another few hundred euros worth of parts and you end up scrapping the car anyway. One particular mechanic did this to me on a €200 car I bought to learn to drive in years ago. He told me it “wasn’t a bad little car”, and after fleecing me of about €700, at which point it was running worse than ever, I offered it to him for €200 and he laughed in my face. I then suggested €50 and he laughed again, and I came to the conclusion that his initially telling me it “wasn’t a bad little car” really meant “not a bad little car for him to make a nice wedge out of”.

The good news is, at the end of my rather annoying week, I managed to superglue my drone back together and the second mechanic seems to have fixed my car. I felt a sense of lightness, and then I spotted that the fuel prices are inching back up to €2 a litre again and I honestly wonder how anyone is going to be able to afford to live in the very near future.

Great changes are afoot in this brave new world. It’s quite difficult to understand what is happening and I’m increasingly of the persuasion that there’s no point even trying, but maybe we’ll “all live happily ever after” in the end, like they always do in classic fairytales. There again, that might be a bit depressingly boring, but sure tomorrow’s another day.


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