The good in the bad

So, so, so. I am very sorry for my long silence. But now, finally, I feel well enough to write again.

I have been very sick at heart. And I still am. But there is hope for betterment. They finally found a new transplant heart for me. Because my old one is dead. Or at least damaged beyond reasonable repair. My old heart overheated so much that the plastic of a tube of the cooling water circuit actually melted. My mechanics said they had never seen something like this. No one can really explain what happened or what caused my deadly injury. Just 60 km outside of Calgary, after I had just crossed 300,000 km and boasted that I could do another 200,000, my temperature suddenly rose beyond healthy limits. And after my drivers stopped because they saw that my temperature wouldn’t go down anymore, my heart basically exploded, it evaporated. My engine went up in a cloud of steam. But at this point it was already too late. My folks didn’t know it yet; they still optimistically clung to the hope that it was simply a small coolant leak. But I already knew that this was much more serious.

And then a long & quite painful odyssey started. People are really nice here. But somehow they are also a little racist when it comes to German cars. They do not want to treat German cars. Especially old German cars with diesel engines.

First I was towed for the first time in my life. Quite an experience, probably similar to you guys being driven for the first time in an ambulance – somehow exciting but really scary at the same time. So I was towed by this super friendly guy called Stu to a garage in High River. Stu was a picture-book of a Canadian – super friendly & good-natured. He went out of his way to make sure to bring me to a garage where they would actually have time to take a look at me on Monday morning (it was Friday afternoon when I broke down) & afterwards he dropped my folks off at a Tim Horton’s, so they wouldn’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere. I can still see his friendly grin & hear his very Albertan ‘You betcha’. And, to be honest, he also won my heart by saying that I was a very good car to be towed – not as tipsy & tottery as those modern ones 🙂

But I am digressing. After the weekend, which my folks spent happily enjoying the Calgary Folkfest, still quite oblivious as to the seriousness of the situation, the mechanic in High River took a quick look at me & quite quickly declared me basically terminally ill. And then the fun started. It proved to be a hell of a task to find anyone to even look at me further, anyone willing to do a full diagnosis on me & to help me. The first garage didn’t fix Volkswagen, the next garage didn’t fix cars as old as me and yet another garage didn’t fix cars as young as me (seriously! Can you imagine me being too young for something?!). And when they heard that I had a diesel engine, they only shook their heads & said that this made things even more difficult.

This is not to say that people were not friendly! Quite the opposite – basically everyone took quite a pity with our situation & really tried to help us out. But everyone said that it would be very, very difficult to fix me & basically suggested it might not be worth the effort or money. And this seriously upsets me. Why the heck do you guys give up so easily on old cars?! We old cars are a different breed than those overbred modern ones. We are built & wired rather simply. We are still fixable. Mechanics hear ‘Volkswagen’, they hear ‘22 years old’, they hear ‘Diesel engine’ & they say ‘No’, ‘Too much work’, ‘Too complicated’, ‘Not worth my time & your money’. Instead it should be exactly the opposite! If someone hears ‘Volkswagen, 22 years old & diesel engine’ they should think ‘Yes!’, ‘Absolutely fixable!’, ‘Good quality’, ‘Long-living’, ‘Absolutely worth my time & your money’. In what kind of throwaway society do we live where old guys like me are so easily disposed of even if you have the knowledge & technique to fix me? Sorry for this rant. I am probably already taking too much of your time for my little story. But this just seriously pisses me off.

Anyways, after many many phone calls & discouraging news my folks finally found Wayne – the wonderful, friendly & helpful owner of Bushmaster in Calgary – who said he would give it a try. And he actually was successful & found a new heart for me. Even though at the exorbitant price of $7,000. And I must say that this figure seriously tested my folks’ love & commitment for me. They started to seriously think about alternatives. Can you imagine – they even started thinking about how to still make some money out of me & how to sell me in bits & pieces! But I am quite proud to say that in the end, after a long day of deliberations they decided to stick to me. Even at this price. But then, as if faith was honouring their commitment to me & their perseverance, a last desperate phone call at the end of the day to yet another garage finally proved successful. Duane, from Langley, BC – a small mechanic specialized in dealing with old VWs – actually had a 2.4l, 5 cylinder diesel engine from a Eurovan standing in front of his place and he was willing to sell it & to do the transplant, everything included, for max of $4,000. And, as if this wasn’t enough good news, he actually would be coming through Calgary in two weeks & was willing to tow me to BC for mere $500 (while the towing from High River to Wayne’s garage in Calgary had already cost $300) & he said that once he has me in his garage he can fix me within a week.

So for now I am still standing in Calgary at Wayne’s garage, still sick & unable to move. But it looks like we found a way out of this unfortunate story. And of course things always happen for a reason and there’s always a bright side to everything. The bright side of this story is first & foremost that my folks got to experience the amazing hospitality & helpfulness of a lot of people. So many people helped us out, so many people offered us their hospitality & overwhelmed us with their generosity, without asking for anything in return. When you are in trouble you get reminded that there’s a lot of good people in this world. And especially, it seems, in this country. If I wasn’t totally in love with Canadians already – loving them for their wilderness, for their open spaces, for their campfires, their loons, mountains, forests & rivers, for their lumberjacks, their tuques & their hosers – I would have to start loving them now even more – for their friendly smiles & words, their open houses, their readiness to help, their kindness & their warm hearts. And, as my story shows, this friendliness & helpfulness in the end even makes up for the lack of commitment to old cars 🙂


2 thoughts on “The good in the bad

  1. WOW (I have been away from the computer for a while and started reading from today’s post without seeing the previous 2-3). Sounds like you are on a real Canadian adventure. Glad to hear the heart transplant is coming. Where are you all during the “waiting” time?


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