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Monday, April 13, 2009

End Of Transmission

I’m sitting here at a McDonald’s located inside a Wal Mart, wrapped around an enigma. Now, you might say, “What moron brings a laptop to Wal Mart to write a blog post?” The kind that has let his oil change go way over due and has to sit and wait forever for them to get stains all over my upholstery and overcharge him for the service. Yeah, it’s like $25 for a basic oil change, now. I remember when the high end service was $18. Also, they don’t overhead page which sends me to the bullpen of expectant car owners waiting for them to call them. Finally, they removed the garbage cans from around the door. I had a lot of empty water bottles to add to the crack pipes and heroin needles usually found in the overflowing garbage can. But that’s not what this post is about. No. No.

I need a new car…another one. You see, the Malibu Maxx, which is getting violated by the grease monkey with long bearded and wool cap with the tassels hanging down like a Hasidic Hippie, is running fine. It’s my other car that has shit the bed. It’s a 99 Sunfire with about 70,000 miles on it. It’s an R-Title that I picked up from my wife’s grandmother. It’s paid for and has already lost air conditioning, the radio knob, and a considerable amount of paint on the passenger’s side front quarter panel. It’s the one that I just dropped $500 on getting new brakes, a brake line, tires, and rotors. It’s also the one that has had a transmission rebuilt on it in 2002. Well, guess what just went?

I was actually having a great day. Work was going well. I was feeling accomplished. I was heading home to play with my daughter, do some shirts for my CafePress store and maybe fit in a little Wii before dinner. I was coming up my hill and something happened. Next thing I know, the RPMs went up and the speedometer went down. That’s never a good sign when you’re in gear on a steep hill. I managed to stick it in neutral and drift back into a driveway. Then after generally cursing everything around me, I called my wife, who was teaching piano at the time and she sent her Father down to retrieve me. I was 50 feet from my driveway. How much does that suck? I couldn’t leave it where it was, so I turned the wheels and let gravity drag me down the hill. In all my cursing, I managed to thank the heavens for Isaac Newton. I maneuvered the car into a parking lot which doesn’t allow overnight parking and explained my case to the owners.

I called the father of one my wife’s students who happens to work at a garage and has done some side work for me in the past. He towed the car to the house and it’s now sitting in my driveway while I figure out my next move. Being a holiday weekend, it’s hard to get anything accomplished. I tried putting some transmission fluid in but that didn’t seem to help. I’ve noticed that the tranny was slipping but thought it was just merely age. Now, I have until Tuesday to figure something out because my wife needs a car for work.

They say that now is the best time to buy a car. There are deals out the wazoo and dealers are looking to move inventory. I still have to pay off the Malibu, which is probably yelping as I write, poor thing. I say the best time to buy a car is when you don’t need one. There’s no pressure to buy. There’s no sense of urgency to make a deal and usually when you need to make a huge purchase, everything else comes crashing down around you forcing you into further debt. The law of averages always dictates that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and all at once.

My Mother-in-Law just got over brain surgery and as a reward; we are taking her and my Father-in-Law to the Outer Banks their other daughter’s wedding this June. I’ve sunk a lot of money into that. I also just spent $500 of other people’s money on a Wii. I could have used that back. I can only imagine what the rest of April and May hold in store for me and my family. The last thing we need is for a pet to die….oh wait, that happened to my Sister-in-Law over the weekend. I’m liable to buy a car and my air conditioning or furnace may blow up.

Which brings me back to my point, now is the best time for someone to buy a car that doesn’t need it. I remember the last time I bought a car. The head gasket on my 97 Cavalier went in 05 and we needed to replace that car. We knew we were going to be starting a family and planned for that by purchasing a Malibu Maxx wagon during that whole employee pricing bonanza that happened a few years back. Even with the employee pricing we couldn’t get our payment down under $200 a month. I think we were at $207 or something. I’ll never forget it. It was close to nine in the evening and when the salesman gave us that number; my wife looked at him and said, “Nope.” He was shocked. “You’re going to walk away over $10?” She said, “Yeah.” She’s the bad cop. It’s a good thing. He came back with less than $200 and with our GM card rewards we managed to knock it a few dollars more to $193. The poor guy was twitching when we drove off the lot. Still, I felt sad saying goodbye to my Cavalier. That thing got me through a lot of good times and bad over the seven years. I still miss it in some ways.

With this Sunfire, it’s a different story. I’ve always had a small amount of dislike for Pontiacs. My first car was an 84 Firebird with flip up headlights. I loved that car. For a 17 year old, it was awesome to have this Mullet Mobile to drive around. Then the transmission went out, oddly enough on the hill up to my parents’ house. Then, the electrical system went haywire and I had to constantly switch fuses around to get things to work. I could either have wipers or memory on my radio, interior lights or a horn. I remember being at a Softball game with my high school girlfriend and getting caught in a torrential downpour. There I was, dripping wet, hanging upside down under the dash in the bucket seat flipping fuses around to get wipers. Finally, some guy hit me in a parking lot and put a crease in one of the headlights. Now, all my car could do is wink. I tried to honk the horn and warn him but I didn’t have the correct configuration of fuses for that act. So, the fact that 15 years later, another Pontiac is giving me trouble doesn’t make me want to feel heartbroken when I drive away from it for the last time.

Well, I imagine my car is done and I would have liked to post this from the McDonald’s but I have no Internet access. It’s not Starbucks or Panera, I guess. Maybe, by the time this hits the blog, I will be in a new or used car. But, with my luck, I’m sure I won’t. It’s a holiday weekend and I don’t take chances with the holidays. I’ll wait until next week when the dust has settled.

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