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I'm having a breakdown, squared


I’ve had a bad run of transportation luck lately. (I know, cue the violins).

It all came to a head on Thursday morning, proving once again nothing good — and everything bad — happens before noon.

It started in the wee hours.

Heading home after yet another stimulating and emotionally fulfilling night on the Journal-World sports desk, I started up the only semi-serious hill on my regular commute and heard a strange clicking sound emanating from my bike’s drivetrain.

It was loud and unnerving and regular, but, curiously, not on every pedal stroke.

The sound wouldn’t go away, and I ticked over the possible causes over the final (loud) couple of miles home.

I narrowed it down to a couple of causes, but put the final diagnosis off a few days.

After a couple of blissful hours of sleep and several minutes of frantic last-minute packing, my son and I hopped in my car to make a quick trip to the local Hy-Vee, where we were to meet several other parents to make up a caravan on the way to a two-night Scout camp in Kansas City.

My car had been making a — and excuse me if I get too technical here — loud THUNK from the (more jargon) rear end. I thought maybe my bike rack had worked loose and was banging around, so I dismissed the noise.

But just as we came within sight of our meet-up, I heard a (pardon the esoterica) dragging sound, which I immediately knew was my whatchamawhosis dragging the ground. I rounded the corner into the parking lot and my thingamawhich broke free and skidded to a halt behind me in a shower of sparks in the middle of the street.

And my engine thing (or whatever it’s called) suddenly sounded like a muscle car.

After a panicked call to my dad, who assured me my son and I wouldn’t spontaneously combust and would, in fact, probably — probably? — be safe to drive the throaty clunker to and from Kansas City, we headed off to camp.

Two days later, I popped into the bike shop.

I told the shop guy I needed a new chain.

“What kind?”


“One-eighth inch, with a quick link?”


It cost 15 bucks and took all of 10 minutes to shorten and install. Five more minutes and a couple of nearly silent trips around the block later, my bike was good as new.

In contrast, today I’ll have to haul my sorry car(cass) around to at least a couple of mechanics, who no doubt will inform me gravely that my whosawhatsit is shot and it’ll cost a couple hundred dollars just to make it runnable, and while they were in there, they happened to see something else was about to go and maybe I should think about replacing it, too, and … well, you get the idea.

I have a funny feeling 15 bucks isn’t going to cut it.


autie 3 years, 9 months ago

That all happened to me one time when I was a kid growing up in the backwoods of the Ozark Mountains. I was in the tour de France that year when my uncle needed a knee replacement. But I pretty much stuck with the dill pickles I got in Topeka.

Is that better Bob?


Agnostick 3 years, 9 months ago

When I read the title, I thought this was written by another user...


bearded_gnome 3 years, 9 months ago

like the use of whimsical words!


overall writing: bad. maybe Irish/Oak/Mariposa/hermi/Cleo did write it.
Andrue, you outsourcing your blog now???

I strongly urge you to go to somewhere that they tear into them car thingys, take off the whatchamacallits, fix the doodads, replace the doovers, test the thingamabobs, and they can teach an automotive novice.


jumpstart79 3 years, 9 months ago

I had the same thing happen not to long ago. I stopped to pick the muffler up and realized just how shot it was. I bought a new one at O'Reilly's and had a friend weld it on for me. Total cost was under $30. Not a bad deal compared to the auto shops!


devobrun 3 years, 9 months ago

Actually, driving without a muffler is rather dangerous. Exhaust fumes are to be directed out the back of a car and when they are're breathing them.
Exhaust gas is hot. It is intended to be directed past any portion of the car and when it is can ensue.

So you risked becoming drowsy and catching fire. Smoking in bed is also dangerous.


Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

I guarantee you, if your car belonged to me, I could fix the muffler for 15 bucks.


The_Original_Bob 3 years, 9 months ago

I read the headline of this blog and thought Irish wrote it.


SandCoAlmanac 3 years, 9 months ago

Did you pick up the muffler from the street so no one would run over it, or just leave it there? I think you might be right about the cost of fixing your noisy car, though, unless you can install a new muffler and tailpipe by yourself.


tolawdjk 3 years, 9 months ago

So why didn't you bike your son to scout camp?


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