Friday, July 29, 2011

How Anal Can It Get? Or, A Married Man's Lament

This past week, my wife had to take a trip down south to help out a friend.  The night before her departure she approached me and said, "I have a favor to ask."  I raised an eyebrow.  She continued, "Can I take your car?  I just discovered that my headlights aren't working."

I, of course, replied (while cringing inside), "Sure."  And, being a manly-man, said, "Don't worry Honey Bunny, I'll fix it while you're gone."

Now her car is a semi-luxury car, a tricked-out Nissan Altima with every upgrade available at the time.  A really fine, well made car that's held up remarkably well under her abuse.

Lest you think I'm being cruel, let me put it in perspective.  First, she averages about 30,000 miles a year and has done so every year for the five years she's owned the car.  Once, when my buddy Punch was visiting, we happened to follow her out of the neighborhood up to the crossroads where, in the distance, we could see her make a right turn. We pulled up to the light, which was red, and waited.  Just as the light turned green, my wife comes flying through the intersection going in the opposite direction.  Punch calmly observed, "That might account for how she puts so many miles on the car."  And I thought, not to mention the repair bills.

The car has been in the body shop at least four times that I can remember, once for a caved-in door, once for a caved-in front bumper, once for something I can't remember, and the last time, because she tore one of the outside mirrors off against the house while backing out of the carport.  She claimed she was trying to avoid one of the dogs.  She once hit something so hard it broke all three motor mounts and cracked a wheel bearing.  That little caper cost $2,500!  See what I mean?

Anyway, I'm driving her car and I'm stopped at a light when I notice, located on the driver's side arm rest between the mirror adjustment knob and the power window switch, there is a patch of what feels like braille.

OK, I know you've been here before.  Kinda like braille at drive-up ATMs right?  But you can almost understand the drive-up ATMs.  The same machine goes everywhere, walk-up or drive-up, so in order to save money... bla, bla.  But braille inside of a fricking car?!!!  In the driver's seat!  How damned anal-retentive can you get?

I can't help but wonder what it says.  You are on the wrong side dumb-ass, get the fuck out!  Or maybe, You're in for the ride of your life.  Lower the windows so you won't miss anything.

But you haven't heard the worst yet.  The anal-retentive worst, that is.

I am taking the car to the body shop to change the headlights because, after a couple of hours of trying to figure it out, I have concluded that there is no way to get to the damned bulbs short of removing the entire headlight assembly and I can't see anyway to do that short of disassembling the entire front end of the car.  So, I am taking the car to our favorite body shop as I figure they know more about these things than the local grease monkeys who do our regular mechanical repairs, and it turned out I was right.

After carefully looking it over and checking all of the fuses and relays, Ron, the body shop guy says, "The only way to get those out is to drop the front end. What a pain in the ass."

After consulting his book, Ron concludes it will be about $200 in labor alone.  After calling the local parts store it turns out that the high-tech, deluxe, Xenon bulbs will cost one-hundred-five dollars each!  That's right.  $105 EACH!  Ron advises to replace all of the bulbs in the assembly while we've got it apart, which makes sense, and by the time it's all said and done, the cost to replace six frigging light bulbs is $475!  And that's about a $150 savings over taking it to the dealership where the labor alone would have been $300.

Ron is just about as pissed as I am.  He says that almost all of the new car manufacturers deliberately build in expensive complications like this so that you have to take the car back to the dealership for repair.  He also said that with each new model special tools are required for key, critical repairs.  I know this to be true both from my own experience and from a friend who is a Snap-On tools distributor.  He says that Snap-On pays the manufacturers to get specialty tool designs and even then, they don't get them all.

It's like the phamaceutical industry and their patents.  Vital drugs cost us 4 times what it cost to get the same identical drug from Canada.

I am more and more beginning to feel like I'm in a huge school of fish desperately darting here and there trying to avoid the sharks who swarm around us devouring mouthfulls of flesh with each pass.


  1. Now I understand why you are such an angry man...the reality of your manly mechanical abilities have been far surpassed by contemporary driving machines. You are a hands-on dinosaur. There are no more carburetors.

    Chill, my brother...just chill. You've been replaced by a black box under the hood and fucking blinding Xenon headlights. Your wife need never know...if you keep your damned mouth shut. I have been there. Peace, light and like that there, bro.

  2. One needs only to look under the hood of a 1968 Camaro and a 2011 Camaro to see fully understand the change. You can smuggle 8 clowns under the hood of a 1968.

  3. I am a fix it nut. But drive a car that is so complicated that I basically put in wiper fluid and check the oil. Nothing is easy any more.

  4. JJ... you are soooo right. when the time comes I am going to trade it for a 90's pick-up.

    Punch... but how many clowns inside the damned thing? I'll bet more inside the '68 as well.

    Susan... no need to try, thanks for stopping by.

    Syd... me too.

  5. I used to drive cars that I had to fix or maintain on my own because I couldn't afford something with an actual warranty. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about cars, though. Hopefully my little Chevy has nothing exotic and needy in it when the warranty runs out.

  6. Surely you're not implying that only drivers of the female presuasion are prone to inflict great abuse on their vehicles? I thought not...

    I agree with you about the way car maintenance has become way to complicated these days, though. I can't even change my frikkin' wiper blades myself, and it's not for fear of breaking a nail.

  7. All I can say is we are doomed. I hope the Chinese are kind and forgiving when they take over.

  8. Mr. C, I knew...I knew...I were going to get in trouble with intell, when she came back from her horror month. I just knew it.

  9. How many intelligent wenches do you think one can fit under the hood of a 1968 Camaro? Oh, Without breaking a nail.

  10. Punch, how many inches of exhaust pipe do you think intelliwench can stick up your ass, would be a better question.

    Oh, and C...I knew...I knew...I KNEW Punch would expand way beyond anything you could say.

  11. The question is, how many intelligent wenches can you fit in the back seat of a '68 camaro? See, both of you boys are lost in the woods.

    Besides, Intelli knows I would never imply anything like that.

  12. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HOW I MISS MAKING MONEY FROM YOUR COLLECTIVE WOES. Of course I had $75,000 dollars worth of tools to pay off.

  13. Oh yeah, and I suppose one of those tools was a bass boat! Just kidding, just kidding.

  14. Who had time for fishing I was making money...the sport of champions according to the new generation.

  15. Ahem, Mr. Charleston, but does Mrs. Charleston read your blog?
    May I suggest you take a little more care in what you say about her driving habits? She might accidentally run YOU over when coming out of the carport. I can see that she'd never want to run over a dog, of course.

    Thank you so much for popping over to my blog and becoming a follower. I love followers, but I see I can't return the favour.

    I shall have to put you into my bookmarks, in spite of your marital problems.

  16. Friko... LOL Yes, you can be sure I have considered the fact that she might indeed run over me. But I must say, I considered that fact years prior to this post. When she's in the car, I stay out of the way.


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