Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fickle Fixes and Magnetic Fields

When I was in college, I had a Pentax K1000 35mm camera that I took most places with me - I loved that thing. When the light meter started to go, I was devastated. It was a sporadic problem. There were times it worked perfectly - other times, it didn't work at all... Back in the day when we all shot film (and weren't particularly interested in our manual light meters), this was a big deal.

I brought it to a camera shop in Grand Rapids. Of course, as soon as I explained the problem and handed the camera to the repair man, the meter worked perfectly.

"There's nothing wrong with your light meter," said the repair man.

"But I'm telling you, there is a problem. It doesn't always work."

"You'll have to bring it to me when it's not working."

Hardly. Everytime I drove past the camera shop, I checked the meter. As if some divine magnetic field surrounded the area, the light meter ALWAYS worked at the camera shop. It never worked when I was shooting.

This is not the last time something like this happened to me.

Throughout the past year or so, my car sporadically refused to start. The engine cranked - just no juice. Sometimes it happened in cold weather, sometimes in hot - sometimes after it sat for a long period of time, sometimes after I had driven to the store.

The fact is, the idea of my car not starting is horrifying. In fact, anything that happens outside of my realm of control is horrifying. I kept panicking - wondering if I'd miss a big shoot because of my sporadically not-starting car.

The first time it happened, I thought, "I have AAA. I'll call them, and they'll take it to the garage and get 'er fixed." - Well, by the time the tow truck arrived, the car started on its own. The driver was ticked at me. I was kind of ticked that the car embarassed me... Grrr. The situation ensued. Most times, the car would start within a few minutes' time - or at worst, by the next morning.

After it happened the third time, I took it to my local mechanic.

This guy is a good mechanic - but said he couldn't diagnose the problem with my car unless it failed while in his presence. Now, this posed a big problem. When it failed, I could hardly bring it on over... I couldn't predict when it would fail (although it seemed to happen more in the summer) - In fact, even if I called him when it failed, by the time he theoretically would arrive at my house (in all his mechanic-knight-in-shining-armor glory), chances are the car would start perfectly. I could just picture him, with the same "Isn't she cute and attention-starved" look on his face that I got from the camera shop guy.

After a few futile attempts to solve the problem, I gave up on my normal mechanic. I called Dave's mechanic. They looked into the records and found no repeating issue matching my car's symptoms, and told me the same thing: "We need to see it while it's failing..." Great. I had no idea how that was going to happen. Finally, I decided to take the car to the dealership.

I'm deathly afraid of the dealership. I'd rather cut off my right arm than take the car to the dealership. Dealer prices are so insanely high that it's difficult to imagine how anyone pays them. (Except me, because I had no choice.) So with trepidation, I drove it over, thinking it would certainly fail if left to sit in a hot parking lot.

Well, it didn't. I picked it up later that evening. They were really nice about it, though, "We'll keep the ticket open - just drop it off when you can and we'll try it again."

A week or so later, I dropped it off again. After a day, my rep called, "It didn't fail. Would you like us to fix what I'm 99.9% sure is wrong with your car?" (fuel injection pump or something)

I asked them to wait another day. Another fruitless effort. My car refused to fail for the dealer mechanics.

I'm beginning to think that magnetic field surrounding the Grand Rapids camera shop now surrounds me. MY magnetic field is what causes my car to fail, and it's not fair.

I called the dealer, "Go ahead. Fix whatever you think it is."

So far, the car has started every time I've asked it to (twice) - which makes me glad. The catch is - I'm still, of course, worried that they got the wrong part - and the $33 worth of metal (and the $150 worth of man hour(s?) won't solve my problem... My mind wanders - What if I get stuck in a not-so-great section of Philadelphia (or Allentown - or Detroit, where I never even go...) and can't get home? What if I can't get to a shoot? What if blabbiddy blah blah blah?!!

I guess I'll have to wait it out. While I do, I'm going to look for a doctor - to see about that mag field. sheesh.



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