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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

The Joy of Cars

Samantha Strub

(April 2010) All teenagers cannot wait for the day when they are finally old enough to get the keys, yet little do they know all the downfalls of having a car, also called "maintenance." I never thought of it; it was something that my dad always had taken care of. When I came to college with a car I didnít expect there to be any problems. Boy, did I get a wakeup call.

I was reminded of this when I had car trouble for the second time right before we left for our spring break. My car had figured that the day before I needed to drive to Pittsburgh, cursing on Hwy 15 on my way to the barn was the perfect time to get a flat tire. So what, you say? A flat tire is no big deal; just put the spare on and youíre good to go. That would normally work but not if youíre going to be driving long distances. Though even if I wasnít driving a long distance the next day, I still would have been in trouble because my carís tire split open. I panicked! There was no way I was going anywhere, and I had no clue how to change a tire.

Not happy at all, I called my dad, wondering what I was supposed to do. My dad called the auto shop and told them where I was, and they said they were going to come get me, and put me back on the road in no time. That put my mind at ease, but unfortunately not for long. After 45 minutes of waiting, nothing happened so I got fine but didnít realize that my clutch had burnt out! I found out after trying to speed up on Highway 15! I was able to drive slowly in the parking lot with a burnt-out clutch but not at high speeds. It was the scariest thing in the world to be pushing on the gas pedal and going slower instead of faster!

I pulled over to the side and into the Catoctin Orchard parking lot. I tried to move my car from there and realized I wasnít going anywhere; my car wouldnít move! Panic was increasing inside me. Luckily, my friends were there to calm me down because my parents werenít picking up the phone. One of my friends googled "auto shops" into her phone and found one close by. We called the place, but on a Sunday they were already closed. They said they would pick the car up first thing Monday morning. Our plans were ruined for the night, but I was more worried about how much it was going to cost, and what my parents would say when I finally got a hold of them. I had a mini heart attack when I was awakened at 9 am the next morning by a phone call from Public Safety, asking why my car was parked in the Catoctin Orchard parking lot. The tow truck hadnít been there yet, though they had promised to get there first thing in the morning, and the owners of the Orchard had called when they saw that wonderful Mount parking sticker. This was turning into even more of a disaster.

I had to do damage control, but I also had classes to go to. Problems! I told Public Safety about the situation, and then called the auto shop to tell them to pick up my car like they the shopís number from my dad and called them asking what was taking so long. They told me they couldnít find me-seriously! I was becoming increasingly angry-this was similar to what happened last time-I took a deep breath and calmly told the auto shop that I was actually in Pennsylvania instead of Maryland; somehow this was not made clear to them.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Gosh this was annoying; I had things to do and no time to wait. Finally the tow truck arrived, picked up my car and brought it and me to the shop. Thankfully they were able to fix my car right away, and about another half-hour and $190 later I was ready to roll. I had lost my afternoon and all my time at the barn, but at least my car was fixed, and I could get home the next day. What a great way to start out the break. This wonderful wakeup call brought back memories of my first break down. I didnít except there to be any problems at all because we had my car completely checked out before I drove out to start my freshmen year. Little did I know that I would have about the worst luck with vehicles. This first incident was even worse than my latest one. Some friends and I were going to go down to Ocean City a couple weeks into school.

I had never been there, and everyone wanted to show me around, telling me it was so much fun. We were excited walking over to the ARCC to get to the cars. I thought mine was were supposed to in the first place. I also apologized to the owners of the Orchard; what a day and it was only around 10 am.

I didnít have my car for the whole week; that wasnít fun but I lived with it. The next weekend was parentsí weekend, and my parents went to pick up my car and see what the damage was going to be. It was defiantly a big one-almost $1,000! Ouch! My parents were kind enough to split the bill with me, knowing that the clutch burning out was something that couldnít be avoided. Boy, I was lucky!

After these two incidents I have realized that cars arenít all that they are cracked up to be. Yes, they are amazing inventions that have changed the way we travel, and I wouldnít have it any other way, but they can also be a major hassle, especially when you donít know anything about maintenance. Itís about time I learned some of these important skills, and I better put the auto shopís number on speed dial in my phone.

Read past editions of Samantha Strub's Four Years at the Mount

Samantha Strub is a Freshman at Mt. St. Mary's majoring in English with a Secondary Education minor. Samantha will be authoring an on-going column sharing her thoughts, achievements, thrills and yes disappointments as she progressed from being a Freshman to Mount graduate.