The Oil Crisis

by Wendy Copley on June 7, 2007

Boy howdy — this has been a crazy week! I know I say this all the time, but dang…when it rains, it pours.

Monday morning, Zach and I both woke up sick. Zach was worse off than I was, but we were both feeling pretty miserable, so it started the week off on the wrong foot. Meanwhile, Monday was the first day back at my job after my boss left, so all the things she used to handle started coming my way. I dutifully wrote every request down in my planner and at the end of the day, I had 22 items on my list! Yikes! That’s especially crazy since I tend to average about 5 things per day.

Tuesday through Thursday, I attended the Internet Retailers conference in San Jose. In a fantastically bad decision on my part, I chose to drive to SJ and back every day instead of just renting a hotel room down there and expensing it. The reason I decided to do that was that I thought being away that long would be hard on Wyatt. But what I didn’t account for was that the drive from here to there takes an hour and a half during rush hour (and vice versa), so I had to leave every morning before Wyatt was awake and I only got home a few hours before his bedtime each night. So I pretty much didn’t see him anyway.

Tuesday night, my friend Lisa was in town. It’s always a special treat to hang out with her, but I overbooked a little, I think. I was up at 6:30 on Tuesday morning, then I drove down to San Jose, spent the day at the concert, drove back to El Cerrito, stopped at home to make a couple of phone calls and check my email and then headed right back out to meet up with Lisa and Allison for drinks. That normally would be a phenomenally busy day for me but when you add the fact that I was sick, I was pretty beat by the time I got home. It was also pretty upsetting for Wyatt to have me dash in after a day away and then immediately turn around to leave again. When I came in, I told him I was only home for a little while and then I was going to go see my friends. He sat down on the floor and started crying and saying, “I don’t want you to go see your friends, Mama!” When I told him that I needed to go because I don’t get to see my friends very often he said, “No! Mama stay here! Daddy will go see your friends instead!” Awwwwww…poor little buddy.

The last little bit of icing on the cake for the week happened this evening. The conference let out a little earlier than usual today, at 4:30. I was thrilled because that meant that if I hurried I’d be able to get on the road before traffic got too bad. I had smooth sailing for about 10 minutes and then hit some stop and go traffic. I’d only been sitting there for a couple of minutes when the oil light came on with a very loud beep. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I’m not very good about car maintenance, (I owned the Fox for 5 years before I got an oil change) so when I saw the light come on I freaked out a little. The oil light seemed like a bad thing to me, but I thought it also might be one of those things that means you should look into it when you get a chance, but don’t sweat it too much. And dang did I want to get home…. My better judgment prevailed though, and I was stopped in traffic anyway, so I called Zach to see if he knew what to do. He thought the oil light was pretty bad too but he wasn’t positive, so he called the mechanic to find out what to do. As everyone reading this probably knows, the oil light is a bad thing, so the mechanic told me to pull off the freeway ASAP, and check the oil. He told me that if the oil was low, I should add some synthetic 5-40 oil and if the oil level was OK I should have the car towed to his garage immediately and not drive another inch.

I slowly, slooooowly made my way to an exit through the terrible traffic and found a gas station on the GPS. When I checked the oil, it didn’t even register on the dip-stick! Yikes! Of course, when I went into the gas station to get some oil, they had 5-30 and 10-40, but no 5-40. Crap. I walked across the street to a Walgreen’s figuring they might have more kinds of oil, but they didn’t have any 5-40 either and none of the many, many bottles indicated they were synthetic. We have already established that I am oil-tarded, so of course I had no idea what to do. I got back on the phone with Zach who got back on the phone with the mechanic who told me I could put in 5-30 or 10-40, but to avoid the regular kind of oil. So I tromped back across the street to the gas station and bought the oil they had there because I knew that bottle said “synthetic”.

When I finally got back to the car and put the oil in, I realized how bad the oil light thing actually was. I had to pour an entire quart of oil in before anything even registered on the dipstick and another half bottle before it was at the proper level! Yikes! I’m lucky the engine didn’t seize up or kersplode or something. After I got the oil thing all taken care of, I got back on the road and had an uneventful ride home. And now I’m sitting on the couch. And I don’t have to drive down to freaking San Jose tomorrow. Yay!

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