Wednesday May 30. 2001

the denouement and
resolution in the matter of $670

The funny thing about naming a car is you suddenly see it as having a personality. You give her a gender, and you start wondering: If your car was a person, would she be gay or straight? You encourage and talk to her while you're merging onto the highway. You decorate with her with various stickers, necklaces and a small red plastic dinosaur looking out the back window. And when she is hitched up shoulder high with strange men poking around in her innards, you frequently look up from your magazine to peer nervously through the glass at your poor, broken baby. Yes, I love my Bessie.

When I arrived at Midas bright and early at 7:30 this morning, there were already two people there before me. I gave the people behind the counter all my paperwork and key, and sank down into the plastic chair in the waiting room. But I was on edge, cringeing and jumping at every sound, wondering if some mechanic was going to lumber up to me and tick off a laundry list of repairs that I couldn't afford. I knew if I didn't pass this inspection today, I was up shit creek. I wouldn't be able to drive the car, and if I did, I would get pulled over and ticketed, my expired driver's license compounding the problem. Yes, I am such a model driver.

I had to end up fudging the paperwork a bit. I just got a new license plate (apparently they're changing all the license plates in PA for some unknown reason), and when I got home from class yesterday I spent a good 2 hours tearing my apartment apart looking for the registration for my new license plate. To no avail. But I had the registration for the old license plate. Solution? I felt slightly ridiculous but I detached the new plate and replaced it with the old one. And by god, it worked.

"95 Dodge Neon?" I heard the lumbering mechanic say behind me. I peered at the sheet in his hand, barely hearing what he was saying. Brakes, rotors, oil change...looking for the bottom line. I need the bottom line. All told, the bottom line was only $118. I affixed my John Hancock next to the X and sent Mr. Mechanic on his way. I can't tell you how happy I was to see that little yellow sticker that let me off the hook for another year. I pulled out of the parking lot quickly, as if someone was going to run after me and try to take my precious inspection sticker away. I guess you've grown up when you start worrying about state inspections and car mileage and other stupid necessary minutiae.

So, my initial feeling that I was being fucked with were in fact correct. I don't get it. I really don't. How can I have $670 worth of repairs at one place and only $118 at the other? They said my wiper blades needed to be replaced. At Midas, they said they didn't. Now, wiper blades are something fairly straightforward that even a car ignorant person such as myself should be able to figure out. The rubber is either rotted and cracked or it isn't. I guess I expect too much out of people to be honest and decent and all those other rarely used notions.

Arrgh. If they're going to cheat someone out of money, why don't they at least go after someone with an income?

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One Year Ago:
"If I don't have a job, my parents will murder me. Simple as that."