Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

You Pay a Price, after All, for Choosing a Staycation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

You Pay a Price, after All, for Choosing a Staycation

Article excerpt

Staycation: a blend of "stay" and "vacation"; first known use: 2005.

I took a staycation the week before last because that's about what I can afford these days.

Turns out it might have been cheaper to drive to Myrtle Beach.

Late on the Sunday afternoon before the vacation, I drove across town to Squirrel Hill to pick up my younger daughter at her friend's house. My girl will be 17 in October, and our station wagon is exactly a year younger (yet not nearly as good-looking).

She got in, and we were coasting down the big hill on South Negley Avenue toward Fifth when the clutch went. I somehow cajoled the heap all the way to Oakland before it broke down just shy of St. Paul's Cathedral, which had me thinking God was just rubbing it in.

I told my daughter she didn't have to wait around for the tow truck if she wanted to take a bus home. With that, she was gone. Much of my money would soon follow.

First thing the next morning I cycled to my neighborhood garage, where I'd had the car towed. I tried to tell myself I was on a cycling vacation on the Great Allegheny Passage, but myself told me to shut up.

Turned out the place doesn't work on clutches, and soon my car was being towed to transmission specialists in Sharpsburg. Given that I spent two grand just last year on a new used engine for this jalopy, I told myself I'd walk away from it if the cost of repairs was too high.

Sharpsburg called a day later with a death-row pardon: I didn't need a new clutch - just fluids, a new clutch master cylinder and hose. With labor, the final tally came to $488.36.

Tell him what he's won, Johnny!

"The same crummy car he's been driving since Bill Clinton was president!"

A friend drove me out to get the alleged motor vehicle Wednesday morning. I gratefully bought him breakfast in Lawrenceville, then drove to the paint store. I was working a long chore list, including painting the living room and climbing out the third-floor window with a ski pole to unclog a drain atop my flat roof. …

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