Diary of a miscreant - Ann Marcial

17th September 2010 

Took the jeep into the mechanic today. It cost me 20000 EC or £6000 2 weeks ago and it’s a 1994 model!

S came with me as he knew the seller. Seller assured me it was the best vehicle he had – the most reliable. I thought S knew everything about cars etc but he clearly knows nothing.

Today the driver’s door only opened from the outside. I had to roll the window down to use the handle to get out. 

19th September 2010

T knocked the front bumper off by accident as he was reversing and tickled the landlord’s wall. Turns out there were only two screws on one end holding it on. T reckons someone tried to nick it in the night, but got disturbed.

25th September 2010

Couldn’t open the front door driver’s side again from inside.  Window driver side is also stuck leaving a gap so big you could put a pound of sausages through. Fiddled with the thing for moving the window up and down and it got lost in the door cavity with the window stuck. 

Had to clamber out through the passenger side. 

29th September 2010

Took the jeep to the mechanic today. The door was on off on off on off.  After three hours it was all sorted – I saw him check it. I drove to the supermarket. When I came back with all the shopping, I put the key in the lock, heard the central locking system click but, when I pulled the handle, the door refused to budge.

1st October

Managed to get new ‘thing’ for window. Mechanic fixed it, but it’s bigger than the old ‘thing’ and keeps falling into the cavity and I have to fish it out.

4th October

A 2’ x 3’ metal sheet underneath the exhaust fell off today as I was going down the dual carriageway. Saw it in my mirror. Stopped and picked it up but badly battered. Luckily no-one behind.

14th October

Went to the petrol station today. It took 20 minutes to fill up with one litre of petrol. In the end I gave up or maybe the tank did, as I just couldn’t get any more in. I took jeep to the mechanic. He says there a kink in the feed tube and he had to take the whole tank out and put it back in again. 

27th October

The window driver side caught fire today – something to do with the wiring. Smoke billowing. Back to the mechanic who told me I needed to go to a different mechanic who deals with the electrical side of cars. 

1st November

Hurricane Tomas struck on the 31st October. Parts of the island are devastated with mudslides, trees uprooted, houses smashed as though they were made of paper, bridges have collapsed, roads are cut off. Round the airport is especially badly affected and there are no flights in or out. Still life sort of goes on. I tried to drive the jeep up a hill. But couldn’t manoeuvre the automatic stick to get it into four-wheel drive. The wheels were just spinning and spinning and showering mud everywhere but mainly splattering the back window and the car behind. Cars almost nose to tail up the hill and nose to tail down. Those behind me started to hoot. Sure someone was swearing but in Creole. People are just so impatient. A car stopped opposite me and I called to the driver through the gap in the window (stuck again) “Do you know how to get this thing into four wheel drive”. The man in the passenger side jumped out and he asked me to get out. I thought he was just going to put it into gear for me but he drove off up the hill about 500 yards with me huffing and puffing, slipping and sliding behind and thinking is he going to steal my jeep. All wasted energy physical and mental on my part as I would never have caught him. 

16th November

Went up same hill today. Jeep kept sliding down – just couldn’t get four wheel drive gear. Nor could T. The man in front had a van and I asked him for a tow. Cost me 60 EC dollars. (£15). T sat in the driver’s seat to steer as I was too nervous.  The bloke towing lost control and started to slide back. T should have put the brakes on but didn’t, so the two vehicles collided or maybe it was a kiss? Now have front bumper scuffs. Van not too badly damaged. I noticed it had lots of dents already. Is the hill jinxed or the jeep? I have my suspicions. 

30th November

Exhaust tried to depart company with the jeep today. Like me perhaps it’s had enough or maybe it’s something to do with sheet of metal that came off?? Heard clunk and it scraped along the road. I drove straight to the mechanic. He called me a couple of hours later and said exhaust had blown seven holes it in.  He’s welded it back on.

7th December

Good news jeep has had quiet week and behaved well. What a good boy he is! Hope I’m not being sexist.

9th December

The driver seat collapsed today. T was driving jeep when suddenly the back of the seat just fell back. He couldn’t fix it and had to drive upright for rest of journey. He’ll have to do that for a bit until we can get mechanic to sort it. He’ll probably get a bad back. 

15th  December

I turned on the ignition today – nothing, nothing at all. After three or four times there was a whirr then silence, which isn’t always golden. I phoned the mechanic. He said it sounds like you need a new battery. He said I had to get the battery from the local supermarket. The chap at the supermarket said I needed a warranty for it and would need to take it, with the receipt, to Automative Art for the warranty, and they would give it a free electrical testing. Don’t you know, if it’s working already, I thought I had to get the bus to the supermarket then traipse 10 miles across the island to this place near the airport. The young man there was very nice but said they didn’t give warranties for these sorts of batteries. I said what I’ve come all this way for nothing. I think he could tell I was on the edge and so he said he’d test the battery for me anyway. I went back to the supermarket and was told that if I’d paid 20 dollars more they would have given me a three-year warranty. Helpful after the event!

It’s just crazy how you have to source all the materials. Mechanics here have nothing and will get nothing for you. You have to XXXX about the island getting the bits to take to him. This can be really difficult if your vehicle is totally kaput. Maybe I should relent and take ‘it’ to the manufacturer’s  garage although the prices are exorbitant.  

Anyway, as I couldn’t get ‘it’ to him, the mechanic did agree to come round, only when the landlord had gone out as he doesn’t get on with him. They used to be best friends until the landlord insulted him. It is definitely getting more awkward with the landlord living in the flat above. He keeps moaning about where I’m parking ‘it’, although it’s directly outside my apartment. He doesn’t like ‘it’ on the drive and keeps drawing the chain across. Where does he expect me to park ‘it’? In the sky? In the flat? 

Apparently the landlord went into Debbie’s flat yesterday as he thought no-one was at home, but her two sons were in watching TV. Luckily, I made sure he didn’t get a key to my flat when the new door was put on. Is it time to move?

12th December

The battery sparked up first time. Then I took ‘it’ to the petrol station. When I’d filled up I turned the ignition 3 times and nothing happened. I said to myself I’m not going to panic, but my stomach was churning. The fourth time ‘it’ started. Have I got a dodgy battery? 

20th December

‘It’ kept cutting out today. This is happening more and more, even though ‘it’s’ had a new battery. Took ‘it’ to the mechanic. Turns out the brush on the ignition has worn out and some wire keeps falling off. Had to go and get a new bit of wire and brush.  

 30th December

The window gap made a timely reappearance today. I think ‘it’ thought I was missing ‘it’. Then it started to rain, and the rain streamed in. Door still not opening from the inside, although the mechanic had it off twice more. When I leave the mechanic, door’s working perfectly, but when I go somewhere/anywhere door doesn’t work. Maybe ‘it’s’ got an attachment problem and only feels happy when it’s with the mechanic?

1st January 2011

Dear Jeep,

Let’s hope for a better year and draw a truce.

3rd January

Couldn’t get petrol in tank today. Mechanic says could be kink in feed tube again or may need new tank. Don’t fancy lugging a tank around the island.  

11th January

Went back to mechanic as ignition switch is playing games again. Mechanic looked at it and said the only bit that was any good was where you put your key in. Everything else wanted replacing.  Need new starter motor too.

16th January

Starter motor is now not the problem. Mechanic says it’s the solenoid. 

18th Jan

Now the solenoid isn’t the problem. There’s no power from the battery to the starter motor. Need to go back to mechanic who deals with electrical problems.

1st February

‘It’ has developed bad oil leak. Mechanic said it was from oil pump. Guess what?………….

6th February

‘It’ seems to be developing  hankering for new relationship with mechanic who deals with electrical problems. Maybe other mechanic has sussed him out?

16th Feb

How fickle thou art. Went back to previous mechanic today with – wait for it – door problem. Yep couldn’t open the door again. Perhaps ’it’ is trying to kidnap me.

1st March 

Air con not working.

2nd March

T thinks enough is enough and I should get rid of ‘it’. I say no. I’ve spent too much money on ‘it’. By the time I’ve finished every bit of ‘it’ will be new and ‘it’ like the phoenix will rise anew from the ashes.

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