A four hundred mile road

It’s like this: You’re driving down a four hundred mile road, cruising along at highway speeds. Everything is fine, when suddenly two engine cylinders go out.

The check engine light comes on. You know you need to stop and see if you can figure out what’s wrong. You pull over. You look under the hood, but you can’t spot anything. Confused, you try to start the engine again. Nothing. Dead. Not starting. You’re still three hundred fifty miles away from a town.

You remember passing a gas station a few miles back. You start walking. All the cars around you are flying by at highway speeds, like you were, but now you’re walking back, trying to figure out what to do.

You get to the gas station. You call a tow truck, but realize it’s going to take ages to arrive and cost $350 you don’t have. You buy an OBD-2 diagnostic tool so you can figure out what’s wrong with your car.

You walk back to your car. You stick the ODB-2 connector in and look at the engine diagnostics. Diagnosis: You have two engine cylinders out. You can’t do anything about that. You just know that’s a big problem you can’t solve just like that.

You give it another go. The engine has cooled down and has been off for a while. Miraculously, the engine starts. It’s sputtering and the check engine light is definitely on. You read in the manual not to drive like this. You could permanently damage the engine. You could break the car forever. Nevertheless, you don’t have any other options.

You turn on your blinker, pull back onto the highway and start driving.

Your car goes exactly thirty miles an hour, and not a mile more. When you hit a hill, it drops to ten and nearly gives out going over it.

A few miles later, you stop again. This time, you sleep in your car. It’s been a long day, right?

By the time you start your car again, the realization hits you: you haven’t gone twenty miles. You have to go the full 400 to get where you want to go.

Everyone else is already there. Except you.

You’re stuck with two cylinders out and your car keeps breaking down12.


  1. It’s certainly better now than it was a while ago. Thanks, A, H, and a lot more. 

  2. From WhiteX in TShock’s Slack: “[You] forgot the bit where your friend who’s really good with scooter motors rings up and doesn’t understand why his advice won’t help.” 

 
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