The Car Repair

My Tuesday night date was canceled due to the plague, so I asked Madame Elizabeth if she would join me for a cup of coffee on my way home from work. She was, quite rightly (tee hee), delighted to. We work quite near each other and the cafe we like is mere minutes from each of our jobs. I arrived and she let me know that her car was making a weird noise and idling funny, and then told me she couldn’t come because she was afraid to drive it. This was doubly inconvenient for her because she had a date after work! And the date was with a friend of mine, so I would have really hated for her to miss it.

Luckily for Madame Elizabeth, I am something of a car guy. I drove over to see her at work and check out the car, because even though it is super fun to make a not-car-person try to imitate the noise the broken car is making, it really doesn’t help much for diagnosis. As soon as she turned on the car, I could hear the noise. Shot bearing. Alternator, probably. Oh, look, it’s right on top! Touching it verified my thoughts: replace the alternator (I mean, nobody rebuilds things anymore, right?). I offered to fix it and she refused! Not once, not twice, but three times! I think she didn’t realize that not only did I want to help, but I actually enjoy fixing cars.

She was on the phone with her husband and then her dad, and then her husband again. I was busy on my miracle of modern technology, and using my smartphone located an alternator at a local parts store. (And it turns out Madame Elizabeth thought I was just texting or chatting or somehow wasting time or not paying attention, hrmph!)

We ran out to go buy it, I dropped her back off at work, and I went home to change and grab my tools. By the time I got back to her car and got myself set up, her dad arrived! An important note: Madame Elizabeth is not out to her family. So I am the local and concerned male family friend rather than the boyfriend in shining armor. Meanwhile, I could see her occasionally standing at her window watching the two of us struggling together and bonding out in the parking lot and obviously worrying.

We had a problem loosening the belt tensioner so replacing the alternator was a bit of a fight with tensions and tolerances and the god damn belt. But after some scraping and gouging of flesh and good old-fashioned male bonding and some truly impressive cursing, we triumphed. The car was fixed!

Her dad went home. I washed up. She made her date. I didn’t get coffee after all, but being able to help, being needed and appreciated… It’s not all dating and hot sex. It’s love and family and I got to take care of her.

And my burning need to be needed and appreciated… I’ll talk about that another time.

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