Thinking about “getting around,” as in “I use my car mostly to get around” and “If I didn’t have a car, how would I get around?” . . .
By the middle of last week, the noise coming from the right side of Malvina Forester’s back end was too ominous to ignore. On Thursday I called my mechanic, and on Friday I took Malvina in. Sure enough, we had metal scraping metal on the right side and the left wasn’t much better: the rear brakes had to be relined and new rotors put in.
The parts, as usual, had to be ordered from off-island. The Patriot, one of our lifelines, carries freight, newspapers, passengers, and other stuff on a regular schedule between Falmouth and Oak Bluffs. Larry, my mechanic, got on the phone. Yes, the parts were in stock. No, the guy who usually delivers stuff to the Patriot was on vacation. Yes, a co-worker could do it, probably this afternoon but no later than Monday morning.
I’d bring Malvina back Monday morning. Larry said I shouldn’t be driving. I knew that but figured I’d be OK getting home and back to the shop on Monday morning, and to my writers’ group meeting Sunday night, which is about two miles from home.
Saturday night, however, the M.V. Spirituals Choir, in which I sing, was performing at a benefit concert at Katharine Cornell Theatre. Did I want to drive Malvina, rear brake shrieking and scraping, into Vineyard Haven and back after dark? I did not. I put the word out to fellow choristers and soon had two offers of a ride to/from.
The woman I got a ride with was someone I barely knew. I got to know her a little better on the ride into town and back. The concert was great. You can read about it in the U.S. Slave Song Project blog, for which I am admin and chief blogger.
Monday morning I left Malvina with Larry and walked down to the Black Dog Café. There I ordered breakfast, set up Hekate O’Dell on a back table, and got to work on my current copyedit, a multi-author volume about Brazil’s relationship with the Middle East.
Email included the offer of another job from a different publisher. Contemplating the impending brake repair bill, not to mention the not-paid-off balances from the winter’s big expenses — easy chair, car battery, and four new tires — I took the job. June was going to be a busy month.
Larry doesn’t use email and I don’t have a cell phone, so I walked back up to the shop at the appointed hour to see how things were going. “Terrible,” said Larry. Well, they weren’t really terrible, but it turned out another part was needed — and had to be ordered from Falmouth. Larry delegated Jesse, one of his workers, to give me a ride home. Jesse, a very pleasant young man, gave me a ride to my front door, even though it’s half a mile down a dirt road. We talked about brakes, cars, and the challenges of living on Martha’s Vineyard.
Around 2 the next afternoon, Larry called to say that the car was ready. Should I bike into town? Should I hitch? I decided to do something different: catch the Vineyard Transit Authority‘s #3 bus, which leaves the West Tisbury post office at a quarter till the hour all day long. While I was cutting through the Island Farms subdivision, a guy in a venerable pickup passed me, waved, then stopped and backed up. Did I want a ride? He was going as far as NAPA. “That’s almost exactly where I’m going,” I said, and got in.
He dropped me off at the end of the Old Holmes Hole Road. Before we got there, we’d exchanged names and speculated about the mostly deserted house whose yard Travvy and I trespass across whenever we walk to the post office.
Malvina was ready and waiting. No metal screeched and shrieked as I drove home by myself, without Travvy in the passenger seat. Cars come in handy for getting around, but you don’t meet as many people in transit or have as many interesting conversations. I didn’t even own a motor vehicle till three years after I moved to Martha’s Vineyard. I wonder if I knew more back then.