Ol' Rustbucket

by Anne Skalitza

I'm good at waiting. I have to be, with two cars in the family that, as far I can trace, are from the dawn of the Industrial Age. Once again I am at the car service center, sitting in my coveted seat by the drooping plastic plant, praying that I don't have to take a second loan out on the house to pay to keep Rustbucket sputtering for a few more months. Rustbucket is the van-that-seats-a-thousand and can haul a fleet of fishing boats. I always say I'm going to keep this vehicle until I run it into the ground. It'll be like a Flintstone mobile or Little Tykes Cozy Coupe--feet to the street instead of pedal to the metal.

But there's no way I'm going to plunk down money for a new van, only to have gum, soda, and McDonald's wrappers decorate the interior within minutes of its arrival. One time there was a horrible smell coming from somewhere in the van. I opened all the windows. I sprayed Eau de New Auto.  Finally I remembered a little-used compartment in the third row. When I opened it, I choked and gagged. Sure there was a McDonald's wrapper but it still contained its contents. When I gingerly lifted it out while not breathing, it felt like a brick. Petrified MickyDs. I realize now that my lungs must be excellent; I didn't release my breath until the rotting food was safely in the outside trash can. I was sorely tempted to go in the house and drop it at my sons' feet, but couldn't hold my breath that long. Let's just say they heard a lengthy tirade from Mom.

Back to the waiting room. Today it's quiet. No self-important person loudly talking into his cell about his excellent job and international travel. Or tired toddlers bored out of their diapers, throwing their binkys. It's just a few of us, scattered about, making sure there's at least five chairs between us. We need our privacy while pondering how to finance our car repairs or bracing ourselves when the employee with the clipboard comes out, calls our name, and shakes his head. Like a family member waiting for the surgeon's news on our loved one, our heart's race, our stomach's knot, and there's always someone who slips a flask out of his pocket.

My turn should be soon. I've been here the requisite hour for a diagnosis. Maybe Rustbucket will survive.  If I still have money left over, I'll treat it. I'll pile my sons in the van and we'll go to MickyDs drive-thru. I think some soda on the floor should make it happy.

Anne Skalitza is a freelance writer with MGD (Multiple Genre Disorder). Her many short stories, essays, and poems are published in various magazines such as the Birmingham Arts Journal, The Dollar Stretcher, True Romance, and the now-defunct Alienskin magazine. (Anne swears she has nothing to do with its demise.)

For more on Anne's writings, click here: http://www.anneskal.wordpress.com


  1. Damnit, blogger ate my long comment. Good post though, and I can relate!

  2. Ugh! I know how you feel! I can also practically taste the oily smell in those service center waiting rooms. Enjoy your soda!!

  3. The one good thing that comes of it: a lot of interesting characters for my stories. :D

  4. I have SO been there. Loved the "bored out of their diapers" line. Wish I'd thought of it first!

  5. I have spent an awful lot of time at the mechanic with our Explorer, named "The Exploder." Throughout the last year that we owned her, we spent more on repairs than we did on vehicle payments. Scary stuff, waiting on the dreaded diagnosis!


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