When life gives you lemons

It’s barely been a month since I first arrived in Columbus, and I’ve already got one heck of a story to tell.

I had decided before I arrived here that I would buy a car. The convenience of being able to drive out whenever I wanted to, or make a road trip to meet friends in other parts of the Midwest was all too tempting. Thus began the search, and let me break it to you if you didn’t already know – buying a used car is perhaps the hardest thing to do if you are as indecisive as I am.

I went through the usual process – Craigslist, Facebook markets, dealership websites. Eventually I fixed my budget and narrowed in on a few makes I’d like to drive. Ironically, I found the car I wanted – a 2000 Acura TL, at a Buick showroom! (Goes to show, you’re never certain of finding what you’re looking for if you’re picky about where to look for it!)

So I sealed the deal and drove my (almost) new car out of the dealership, excited at my new-found mobility. Fast-forward to the weekend after. A few friends from Fisher Commons and I went out to shop at Walmart. It was a swelteringly hot day, and I idled the car with the AC on full blast. 5 minutes later, there’s steam rising out of the engine, and we lift the lid to find coolant spewing furiously out of the reservoir. My heart sank. Had I made a huge mistake rushing this car purchase, ending up with a lemon?

Fortunately for me, my friends from FC went into problem-solving mode. We turned the engine off, bought a can of coolant from Walmart and went to the nearest Jiffy Lube. The car was too hot for them to help us, so we decided to head back home, wait and see. Topped up the coolant that night, and the next day, the car was running  fine. Convinced this was a one-off issue, I continued driving around. Sadly, that was not the end of my car’s woes.

On the way back from a friend’s place where a bunch of us had participated in a Fantasy Football draft, we stopped to fill up some gas, only to find the car refusing to start! Panic mode kicked in again, and convinced that my car was doomed, I paced about pointlessly. Again, my friends came to the rescue, contacting our classmate whose house we had just been at, who came to the rescue with his own car and a set of jumper cables. A quick jump start and we were back on the road. So now I had a potentially problematic cooling system, AND a weak battery. I was down in the slumps, assuming that I would soon be having these wheels towed to the nearest junkyard.

There were more problems after that, featuring a broken window, a torn seat, a cracked windshield, etc. Finally, I decided to get everything fixed and give the car that I chose a chance at redemption. The dealer I bought it from promised me a good deal for the repairs, and entrusted me with a loaner car while my car was at service. That evening, the loaner car refused to start. I was at my last straw. My friends joked with me saying, “It’s not your car – it’s YOU!” I began to wish I had never bought a car in the first place!

But things finally looked up when I picked up the car from the dealer. With the radiator cap and battery replaced, and a new window fitted in, it has been cruising pretty smooth so far! The “lemon” nickname has stuck for good, but hopefully it gets me through the program and beyond!

When I look back at all those speed bumps along the way, I am almost thankful for them – because in those situations, I saw how helpful and compassionate my fellow classmates are. The camaraderie at OSU is hard to take for granted, especially when it helps you get through the tough times.

So, when life gives you lemons, get a little help from your friends!


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