Hell or High Water

Survival gear should always include floaties.

illustration by Charles Marsh

Let’s see, where should I begin? OK, first the good news. I am now a charter member of the River Crest Yacht Club. You’ve probably never heard of it. Perfectly understandable, because I just recently founded it one stormy day a few weeks ago. But it’s fairly easy to join. You don’t even need a boat.

It’s limited to those who have inadvertently wound up floating their vehicle in the members’ lake area located directly in front of All Saints’ Episcopal Church. It’s a half-acre body of water that forms right in the middle of Crestline Drive anytime we have more than a tenth of an inch of rainfall.

Now, the bad news.

Chances are most people living in the area are aware of a drainage problem on that particular stretch of road. But since we hadn’t had any significant rainfall in about two years, I just flat forgot about it. It was very dark that particular morning, and I was probably doing around 30 mph when my black Altima crossed the banks of Lake Crestline.

Within a split second, I was in 2 feet of water, and my engine stalled. I wasn’t alone long. A white Toyota splashed in next, and then a red Taurus decided to join the regatta. The guy in the Taurus appeared OK, but the woman in the Toyota began frantically pawing her cell phone. I figured she was either dialing 911 or updating her Facebook status. I decided to wade over to her car and try to calm her down. At first, she appeared relieved to see me, but that quickly turned to a look of concern.

That might have been because the water was starting to short out her car’s electrical system, or she had never seen a grown man wearing floaties. Deep down, I’m sure she was impressed with my preparedness. The police were even more impressed when they arrived about 20 minutes later. I lost count of the number of times they just stared at me and shook their heads.

Eventually, the tow trucks arrived and hoisted me and the other new yacht club members to shore. I hopped up in the cab and had my driver take me and my gondola over to Fort Worth Tire and Service, the first place everybody goes for any type of automotive issue. Sammy and Bear run the place, and I’ve known them for years. Plus, I know where they hide the beer.

Bear quickly surveyed the situation and said, “It should run just fine, once it dries out. That’s assuming, of course, you didn’t try to start the car while you were in the water. That would suck water into the engine and ruin it. You didn’t try to start the car, did you, Heywood?”

“Of course not,” I lied.

Bear decided to go ahead and check out the engine anyway. So I spent the next 30 minutes working on my surprised and shocked expression, knowing full good and well they were going to find water in the engine. Final diagnosis. DOA. However, they could rebuild the engine, but in the meantime, I was going to need a rent car for quite a while. I didn’t have rental insurance, and the rental companies’ rates were out of sight.

Sammy knew of an old guy named Slinky (real name) who rented pre-owned vehicles. When I contacted him, he informed me that he only had one of “them puppies” left. I hurried over to his lot, and when I got a look at the car, I developed a whole new perspective of the term pre-owned. If you think about it, pre-owned means the former user didn’t own it. In other words, it was stolen. Probably explains why this particular 1994 Oldsmobile Aurora was missing a few of the luxury items. Like door handles.

Didn’t matter. I took it.

A week later, my insurance company informed me they were not paying for repairs and were totaling my Altima. The proceeds barely paid off the loan. So for now, I’m stuck with the Aurora. Other than having to open the doors through a window and the oil pressure light coming on every 20 yards, it runs pretty good.

Oh, did I mention it has 167,000 miles on it?

No problem.

Like Slinky says, it’s just a puppy.  

All complaints can be directed to [email protected].