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Another Chapter in the Audi Annals

It's always an adventure driving an Audi, and that's what makes it such a terrific car and such a pain in the butt. When it's driving well it's pure pleasure, a joy on the open road, indeed a car to be reckoned with. But when the evil warning light appears, the driving joy immediately ends and the eccentricities of a high-performance, German-made car take over. For example, when driving along Route 84 in Connecticut, if the low coolant level warning light comes on and the temperature gauge begins to spike, don't think you can just stop at Walmart and buy some coolant to fend off the problem. Unless that is, you can find a Walmart that carries G12 A8D, the special coolant required by the Audi Allroad. Best to just add water to top it off and limp along to somewhere you can rent a car because your Audi journey for the day is over.

However renting a car may continue your adventure, particularly if you arrive at the car rental site one minute before the sole employee is about to leave and with only one car left on the lot. Well, not exactly a car, but rather a Silverado 4X4 extended-cab truck, also something to be reckoned with. But it gets you home that afternoon while the Audi cools down in the rental car parking lot. When you use the truck later in the evening and come back to park on a narrow Charlestown street, you discover just how extended an extended-cab is. The PQ (that would be Parking Queen) instincts prevail however, and all is parked for the evening after a minor incident involving stepping out of the cab and not realizing quite how high off the road it is. Best to walk tall when driving a Silverado.

The next day getting out of the parking spot is simple in comparison to getting into it the night before. It's the drive to Connecticut that proves a bit problematic. The first snowflakes show up on the link to the Mass Turnpike and by the toll booths, it's snowing enough to mount up along the road edge. By the time you reach Route 84 the travelled lanes are still pretty snow free, though the high speed lane is covered and has some ominous looking tracks that veer in, wiggle a bit and then veer immediately back into the slower lane. But you're fine because you're in the big 4X4 with all-wheel drive. The only thing is you have to push a button to put the truck into all-wheel drive, and nobody told you about the button. Basic driving skills prevail however, and you manage the hills and curves to arrive back at the car rental place safely. Mike, the manager and sole employee is surprised to see you, given the snow and the fact that he's already been alerted that two of his expected cars would not be arriving that morning due to accidents.

Inside at the car rental you make arrangements with Audi Roadside Assistance to have the car towed to the nearest Audi dealer and source of the right coolant, along with the precision German diagnostics necessary to ascertain the correct approach to the problem. So now you have just a bit of a wait for the tow truck to arrive. Thanks to an engrossing book, the wait goes smoothly, interrupted only by incoming phone calls and Mike's consistent corporate greeting 'Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the company that picks you up'. Becoming highly aware of this free pickup selling point, you soon discover that an imminent pickup is required of Mike, as you'll recall, the sole employee, and there's still no sign of the tow truck. But you're lucky, the garage which is sending the tow truck is 2-minutes away and Mike will give you a free drop-off there.

And so he does, and you're dropped off into another time, looking around, you might guess back about fifty years. It's not like at your Audi dealer, but the people, who appear to have been there along with the garage for the past fifty years, are very pleasant and point you to the waiting room. You sit down and take up the engrossing book again, trying not to register the layers of garage dirt on everything you can see and surely on the chair in which you just sat. Soon enough though, the gray-haired tow truck driver announces he's ready and you follow him out, not at all surprised when you reach his equally vintage tow truck. The only sticking points, getting the car loaded on, are his not recognizing the secret switchblade action of the Audi key, and how heavy the car is. The weight apparently determines how hard the truck accelerator must be pushed in order to raise the truck bed once the car is on it. Since Frank, the tow truck driver, is also working as a one-man operation, that means jamming a heavy duty flashlight in between the edge of the driver's seat and the accelerator at just the right angle to keep the engine revving. You might have helped but he didn't ask and again you remain engrossed in your book.

Once you get under way, the drive is nice, because the snow in the trees is really pretty, stuck in the branches and making them all look like pussy willows, and slow, because the road is slushy and the car is heavy. But you're impressed with how many gears there are to be used for down-shifting, and how he uses them all, and you have a great and lengthy chat with Frank about why he thinks directions are better on Mapquest than they are on Google, about his kids and your kids, and about the many historic houses along the road in that part of Connecticut. By the time you get to the Audi dealer, you're buddies on the continuing adventure.

You check the car in, and after some more time in a waiting room, thank goodness for the book, no worries about dirt, you get beckoned by the cashier. The cashier! You know that only happens when the repair is complete and it's barely been an hour. At the payment window you receive the news that the problem was simply a bad sensor. You think how, if you'd known, only a bad sensor, you could have just kept driving the car. You say that to the cashier, but she says, "no, no. You did the right thing having it towed because it could have been very serious." Of course, it could have been. You feel like a good person, deserving of being an Audi owner, and start looking forward to your next Audi adventure. Surely there will be another one.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 6, 2006 6:06 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Crazy Designer.

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