I’m starting a new series ’round these here parts. It’s called “#TBT and #FBF” (that would be “Throw Back Thursdays and Flash Back Fridays” for those of you who do not speak middle schooler texting lingo). On Thursdays or Fridays, I’m going to repost old blog posts from yonder years so that we can point and laugh at how stupid, young, and naive I was. Bright spot: There will be pictures of babies!
The first installment of #TBT/#FBF is titled, “Car Troubles (Or the Plight of Law-Abiding Citizens). It was originally posted on January 18, 2010. It makes me giggle. We were living in Connecticut, Bean was seven months old, and it was cold and snowy. And, I was having car trouble.
In the past week, I have become BFF with my local Firestone manager. His name is Nick. He’s 29 years old. He just bought his first house and is getting ready to propose to his girlfriend. He does not like country music and he is scared of installing car seats. How do I know all of his about Nick? Mostly because we shared a near-death experience together when I threatened to end his life (more on that later) and everyone knows that near-death experiences bring people closer. But I also know all of this information because I NOW LIVE AT FIRESTONE.
Last Monday, I had to take my car in to pass the Connecticut Emissions Test (or, as I like to call it, the “Why is it Any of Connecticut’s Business How My Car Drives” test…) in order to renew my registration. After paying the $20 for the inspection, I was politely told by the mechanic that my car was a failure. Apparently, you cannot pass a “Why is it Any of Connecticut’s Business How My Car Drives” test if your check engine light is on. And my light is on. It has been on for the past six months for a minor problem that doesn’t effect the driving and that I didn’t want to pay $1,000 to fix.
See how that works, Connecticut? Its called FREEDOM. You should try it sometime.
So the polite mechanic told me that in order for me to pass said useless test so that I can renew the highly useful car registration, I was going to have to have the problem fixed. I huffed and puffed and took my car up to my local Firestone.
One hour (and a $150.00 diagnostic later), I was told by Nick that the problem was a bad coil in one of my cylinders and that to replace that coil would be about $250. BUT that wouldn’t necessarily turn off the check engine light (of course not) if the spark plugs were bad, too. So, Nick suggested that I have my spark plugs done as well. Total cost? About $1,000.
Once again, I huffed and puffed, but what was I going to do? I had to have that damn little light turned off. So, I paid for the coil and the spark plugs. And then I went out and had “SUCKER” tattooed on my forehead.
But, the light went off. Now, I had to drive my car for 75 miles before it could have another “Why is it Any of Connecticut’s Business How My Car Drives” test. Perfect. I drive that far in one round trip to work and home. Piece of cake.
The next day, on Tuesday, I paid off my car. I was so excited. I think I danced a little jig as I put that last check in the mailbox.
On Tuesday afternoon, my check engine light came on again.
Of course it did.
Then I said some words that were really unnecessary to repeat here because my Grandma reads this blog. I jumped in my car and I drove back up to Firestone to see my buddy Nick.
(SPOILER ALERT: This is not when I threatened to end his life.)
I tell Nick that Hey! Funny thing! My damn light came on again! Nick and I share a good chuckle about silly check engine lights and then I cut my laughter short and say to him (in as non-threatening of a tone as possible, mind you): “So, what are you going to do about it, Ni-ck?”
Nick says that the coil they replaced it with was probably a bad coil and that they would replace it for me, for free, of course.
Good answer, Nick. Way to spare your life, Buddy.
So, Nick replaced my coil.
Wednesday morning the check engine light comes on again and this time, I swear I hear a quiet, evil laugh coming from under the hood of my car. It was like my car knew I had just made the final payment. He just knew that the honeymoon phase was over and now he could relax a little and show is true colors.
Cars are assholes.
If you remember, Wednesday night was also the day that Bean started vomiting and shooting poo out of his rear. So, you know, stress was a prominent force in my life at that time. When I took my car up to Firestone on Thursday to have the problem “re-assessed,” it was only natural that a tiny, little, insignificant death threat would enter the scene, given the poo-shooting and all back on the home front. And I would have avoided it altogether, if Nicholas hadn’t decided that this time the problem might be in a different cylinder and, therefore, was not covered under the warranty of the previous coil that was replaced.
“So, let me get this straight, Nicky,” I said, very politely. “What you are telling me is that you replaced the WRONG coil the first time, isn’t it?”
“Well, Nicholas, I did not pay $1,000 for you to go exploring in my car. I paid $1,000 to have my check engine light turned off. Now, if you guys tried fixing the WRONG problem, that’s not really my deal, is it? Now, why don’t you re-figure that estimate of service for me before someone gets their feelings REALLY hurt, mmmm-kay????”
See? Technically it wasn’t even a death threat because I really only threatened to hurt his feelings. Totally not grounds for legal action, if you ask me.
So, Nick went back to his nifty little computer and guess what! My cost this time was $0.00! Thanks, Nick! They replaced the coil for the second time. My check engine light went off. I smiled and thanked Nick profusely, and headed home. I continued to drive my car for 75 miles so that I could go have that stupid testing done. Finally, I was ready to take my car in for the test. Big day!
Mileage – good.
Check engine light – good.
Attitude – very good.
All systems go.
I get into my car to drive it up to the emissions testing site and SON OF A SNITCH! THAT DAMN CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WAS ON AGAIN!
Now, I was sure of it. My car was mocking me. Toying with my emotions and my checking account. I heard it snickering when I started the engine. I heard it start to belly laugh when I put it in reverse. And by the time I pulled into the Firestone parking lot for the 1,793 time that week, my engine was laughing so hard at me that it was leaking oil.
On the bright side, every mechanic in that Firestone knew my name by now and by the time I walked through the door and into the lobby, about five guys were standing there to meet me. And I didn’t even have to fill out the paperwork. Or threaten anyone’s life or feelings.
This time, they ordered a coil straight from the factory to see if it was a compatibility issue. The coil was replaced. Check engine light turned off. And this time I decided to screw that 75 mile rule and I drove straight to the emissions testing center before my vindictive car had a chance to notice that his light had been turned off.
I dropped my car with the testing center mechanic and sat down with a good book to wait. 15 minutes later, they called my name and I sashayed myself on up to the counter, fully prepared to bat my eyelashes or what have you until my car passed its test.
“Have you recently had work done on your car?” they asked me.
“Nooooo….” I lied, furiously batting my lashes until I had tears running down my face.
“Well, your car failed the test because it hasn’t been through a full driving cycle since your last car repair.”
(Translation: You can’t lie to us. We’re smarter than you. And your little car, too.)
So, I huffed and puffed once again, took my keys, and headed out to my Satanic car. I was just pulling out of the testing center into traffic when it happened.
My check engine light came on again.
THIS IS WHY PEOPLE BREAK THE LAW, CONNECTICUT! YOU PUSH AND YOU PUSH AND YOU PUSH AND BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, PEOPLE ARE DRIVING AROUND WITH UNREGISTERED CARS, STEALING MAXI PADS FROM DRUG STORES AND SELLING AVON TO CHILDREN!!!
I intend to write my State Congressman about this matter. And I may very well have to threaten his feelings. But he really has left me no choice, has he?