Saturday, August 13, 2005

One of those days

Those days happen far more frequently to me than average, and I don't think that's a purely subjective judgment.

Last night, my wife's aunt gave us free passes to a preview screening of "Valiant". Child Three had a baseball festival and preferred to go to that, so the movie was left for Child Two and myself.

The movie was to start at 10 a.m., and as we were about to leave, our vet called. My Samoyed had escaped and was waiting for me there. The dog gets out of the yard once every two months or so, always the same way: someone leaves the gate open.

I checked. Sure enough, the gate was open. Normally, no one in the family admits to leaving the gate open - shocking, I know - but this time no one had any cause to open the gate. It was closed yesterday and nobody used the backyard today. I closed the gate and headed off to the vet.

The vet told me that the dog had been parked on someone's lawn since around 7 a.m., and had been so pitiful that Urgences-sante (the local ambulance service) had checked him out to make sure he was OK. The vet herself passed by then, recognized him - for, as I said, he escapes often - and took him to the office, from where she called me. The neighbourhood must not be so accommodated to my dog's neurotic mellowness.

I suspect a neighbour may have gone into our backyard, and I'm going to padlock the gate.

Off to the movie we went.

My wife had left the minivan extremely low on gas, but I hate missing the first few minutes of a movie, so I didn't fill up beforehand. The digital mileage estimator helpfully displayed the 0 km we could expect to travel on our fuel load.

After the movie (watch this space for a forthcoming review), I came to the highway on-ramp. I could veer right and get on Autoroute 20 to go home or I could stay left and hit a gas station. I wisely chose to get gas. Within two blocks, the minivan started shuddering from what I thought was a lack of gas. Fortunately, the gas station was downhill. My engine died as I crossed the sidewalk threshold and I coasted to the pump.

I filled up (about 66 L @ $1.054/L = about $70) and turned the key. The engine did not start. I did it again, and again the engine didn't catch. I thought the problem might be an empty fuel line, so I pressed the gas pedal. The engine caught, then died. Maybe I flooded it, I thought. More cranking, more starting and dying.

If I gave the engine fuel, it stayed running, although it made a horrible ticking. I was able to pull the minivan into a parking spot. Child Two and I took the Metro home.

While we were gone, the dog threw up a good serving-plate-sized puddle of pea-soup green vomit on the rug in front of the vestibule. I wonder what those kind strangers fed him.

We arrived home the same time as Child Three and my wife. We have to go get the minivan now. She has a CAA account, so the tow will be free. We plan to tow it to the garage that replaced the engine last May. I hope the garage honours its guarantee without too much hassle.


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