Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Old dog learning new tricks

I've been driving a completely paid-for car since 2006 and I frequently tell people that doing so is truly an American Dream. It's an older car that people have nicknamed "Jeeves", so in spite of the personal freedom provided by not having a car payment, there are some definite drawbacks and challenges in keeping it on the road. It's latest quirk is feeding me false info via the digital status update dashboard that was probably quite futuristic looking in 1991 but is now about as impressive as the special effects on the original Star Trek series.
For instance, the display will tell me "LOW WASHER FLUID". Okay, noted. I would take care of that some time soon. But the same day, the car seemed to be struggling to shift gears so I made a point of checking that out right away. Sure, enough the transmission fluid was low so I added some and the problem went away. So did the message about the washer fluid being low. Hmmm...
Then the other night, this happened: I got in, inserted and turned the key and got nothing. "Shit, dead battery", I thought. However, the dome light was on, as well as all the dashboard displays. I looked down at the status display and it said "CLEAN KEY, WAIT 3 MINUTES AND TRY AGAIN". What the hell is that? How does it know my key is dirty? Why does it care? How do I clean it? Why do I have to wait three minutes? And also, how did my key get dirty? Ew. I took a moist towelette from the dashboard, wiped it off, counted to 180 and sure enough, it started right up. Again, what the hell is that?!?
Obviously, these are situations that are going to occur more frequently as the car gets older. So when the government rolled out the "cash for clunkers" program a while back, I jumped all over that gravy train. Unfortunately, it didn't work out...

ME: "All right, so what, do I get a check or a money order or...?"
CAR DEALER: "Unfortunately Mr. Brooks, you don't qualify for the program."
ME: "Say what now?"
CAR DEALER: "Yeah, there's an official government index we have to go by. Based on the year and make of your car, it determines an efficiency rating. You have to have an 18 or lower to qualify."
ME: "So what did I have?"
ME: "So...I get 18/19 of the money? That's cool. I can work with that."
CAR DEALER: "No, you get nothing."
ME: "But I'm only off by one..."
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."
ME: "Look out the window. Look at the car."
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."
ME: "You're disqualifying me by one! A single point!"
CAR DEALER: "It's not me. It's a government program. We're required to follow the guidelines."
ME: "It's a piece of shit. You're looking at a genuine shitbox."
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."
ME: "This is like a university disqualifying Einstein because he transposed two numbers in his return zip code on the envelope containing his application."
CAR DEALER: "Well, that would make it difficult to write him back..."
ME: "Look, he's never met me or seen my car, but that, that right there, is what the president is talking about."
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."
ME: "Every time I start it up, Sting feels a shooting pain behind his left eyeball."
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."
ME: "It doesn't leave tire tracks behind, it actually leaves real carbon footprints everywhere it goes."
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."
ME: "It clunks! I'll start it up and show you. It is by definition a clunker!"
CAR DEALER: "I know. I'm sorry."

I don't doubt that he knew and that he was sorry, but at the end of the day, I did not get a nickel of that sweet government automotive cheese. So it looks like Jeeves and I are stuck with each other.


Tyler H. said...

You got me Clark, I actually spit I was laughing so hard. My favorite is the "carbon footprints" line.

Anonymous said...

hee hee hee :D
Bummer you were at 19 points. God bless bureaucracy!

Mariella said...

Very funny -- the "carbon footprints" made me laugh right out loud. (I don't care that Tyler already said this. It's true for me, too.)