January 16, 2016 by phicks2012
Back in early December I’d made a commitment to attend an SCA event called Magna Faire, hosted by the Barony of Iron Mountain at a frequently used site over in Blountsville, AL. I had a Pelican meeting to attend, and I was planning to step up as Lambent Herald at the event so I was planning to accept receipt of a couple of foot lockers full of stuff that went along with that office.
I fully intended to be there, but I didn’t want to go for the entire weekend because 1) I was going to be making the trips to and from on my own (BORING), and 2) the beds at the site aren’t really to my tastes because I have trouble sleeping on anything that substitutes a piece of plywood for bedsprings, and 3) I had some mundane rental unit related obligations on Sunday, so I planned to day trip. Okay, so that wasn’t all that great either with the site being nearly 200 miles away, but that was the plan, and I set my alarm clock for 5:00am so that I could get on the road by 6:00am and maybe reach the site by 9:30am.
I garbed up, loaded up, and headed out right on schedule, pleased that my recent eye surgery was making it easier for me to drive in the dark, but just as I was approaching Atlanta on I-20 West the BRAKE light lit up on my dash. Red=Warning.
Okay, so I frowned and thought “Well, maybe my parking brake thinks it’s engaged, so I reached down and pulled the release, just in case the brake might have been partially depressed. But nope, the light stayed on. I tapped the dash with my finger in case it might be a loose connection. No good. I tapped the regular brakes a few times with my foot, and they felt okay, but how do you really KNOW? Maybe they WERE just a little soft. Hard to tell sometimes.
It occurred to me that maybe the brake fluid was low, but it was 7:00am on a Saturday morning, and I wasn’t familiar enough with the area I was driving through to know where I should stop for brake fluid — even if I were sure that was the problem. I considered driving on and maybe stopping somewhere for a can of brake fluid after I got through Atlanta, taking a chance on that being the issue, but then again I still had over 150 miles to go just to reach the site, not counting the drive back home later on, and if there really WAS a problem with my brakes — well, you do the math. So while I was not happy about it I pulled off at an exit and turned around.
As soon as I did, the brake light on my dashboard went out, so I gave it a minute and when it didn’t come back on I figured maybe I was okay to go after all. I pulled off at another exit and turned around again, and as soon as I got back on the interstate BINGO! The brake light was back on! I did this twice more. Every time I headed west the light came back on, and every time I turned around and headed back east it went off.
I clearly had a choice to make. Should I drive west and try to get to the event, and home again afterwards, when I didn’t know what might or might not be wrong with my brakes, or should I give up and head back east to the Castle, knowing at least that I wasn’t going to be stranded or in an accident hours from home? What was I to do? What would you have done?
I finally decided that because my luck, in general, hadn’t been all that great recently I probably shouldn’t count on good fortune alone to get me to Magna Faire and home again when driving at high speeds (mostly) on the interstate. I mean, all I needed was to have a brake failure and cause a 10-car pile-up, right?
So, in the final analysis, I decided that discretion probably ought to be the better part of valor and that I really needed to play it safe rather than taking the risk. It was, after all, entirely possible that God or the Universe had been sending me a persistent if ambiguous warning not to drive on through Atlanta, so who was I to ignore it, after all?
I got home safely, phoned, texted, and emailed my apologies to those I was supposed to meet up with at the event, and settled down to feeling guilty because I’d let people down and wasn’t sure they’d gotten any of my messages. I hate it when that happens, because when I commit to doing something or being somewhere I’m normally very reliable, and I don’t like to have people think I’ve bailed on them for no good reason. Hey! I know what that feels like! Right!
But the decision had been made, for better or worse, and later in the day, once the frost on the grass was gone and sun was well up, Jason and I went out to check out The Beast. Primarily, we wanted to have a look at the brake fluid levels (really, Really, REALLY hoping that this was going to turn out to be the issue), but of course when you have a car that’s only four years away from being legal drinking age and is only about fifteen oil changes shy of the 300,000 mile mark you never can be sure until you actually look.
The diagnoses? Well, as it turned out a little brake fluid did the trick, but you never know, do you? *Sighs*