Friday, August 17, 2007

I May Never Leave the Compound Again!

The kids refer to home as "the compound". We sit on 10 acres behind a fence, which keeps the kids and dog in, stray cars out, and everyone safer. The kids also love to rib their parents for rarely leaving the compound; the parents' attitude is "UPS Happens!"

So, Wednesday after the close of business, we packed the 1977 Lincoln Mark V, a rare, 21,500 original mile beauty, with overnight bags for the parents & the 2 youngest brothers. Children 5 & 6 stuffed the old "big b
ody" Suburban with their college stuff, and we set off in a caravan to deliver child #6 (second daughter) to college for the first time. Cars run great, we roll 200 miles and stop at Perkins for dinner, after which the Suburban won't start. By pouring a touch of gas directly into the carbeurator (don't try this at home, kids), we determined that it had to be one of two problems: clogged fuel filter or bad fuel pump. So I called AAA. Of course, it turned out to be a bad fuel pump, and the driver was somewhat less than pleased that I wanted it towed to Morgantown, West Virginia at midnight. I did this for three reasons: (1) AAA pays for the first 100 miles towing, leaving me to pay for only 75 miles; (2) That gets the kids' stuff to WVU, where we can shuttle it from the garage to the college in several trips in the car trunk, and (3) the kids need this vehicle at college to have a way to come home for Labor Day weekend. It's going to cost $500 for the fuel pump, a connection unit outside the gas tank, and new gas lines to the engine.

Last year, when we took our son to college for the first time, we took his 1991 Town Car and our 1977 Mark V; both ran grea
t, until we were about 1/2 of the way back, and a catalytic convertor in the Mark clogged, causing the car to lose power on the hills. Anyone who's ever driven the western half of Maryland knows you have a lot of hills to travel in that section of I-68, so we called AAA then as well, had the car towed back to Morgantown, and relieved our son of his car so we could go home. The mechanic was very accomodating, and reasonably priced (shock!), so I knew exactly where to send my Suburban this year.

Every time we send one of the kids off to college for the first time, we take them there, deliver their belongings to the dorm and settle them in, and we feel as though we've done everything we can to raise them and start them off right. I'm glad we do this, and sorry at the same time, too; but, I'm not sure I want to let my next daughter go more than 5 miles. These car problems are getting old. The kids would say that I'm stupid, and should buy a new car. But, since I average less than $500 per year per car in repair bills, I'd say that's a whole lot better for my checkbook than car payments. Besides, UPS comes from
CVS, Old Navy, JC Penney, and a whole slew of other places; and it's pretty hard to snag some toothpaste and deodorant at 2AM in your underwear if you have to go find a store!

This is the little boys in the backyard of the compound. Looking at them, it's hard to think of a reason to ever leave the compound again. (Now the whole world can think I'm as loony as my kids think I am!)

HUMOROUS UPDATE: The mechanic remembered my 6'5", 230 pound, red-pony-tailed son, and asked if they could come to the college to pick him up, so he could help push my Suburban into their garage. They diagnosed it out in the parking lot, but the 3 guys in the shop couldn't move it by themselves. My son brought his sister to steer while the 4 guys together pushed the truck. They'll have it ready for Jeffrey tomorrow.

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