Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Roddy Goes To The Hospital

Our friends, Virginia and John Paul, both enjoy fishing. On one of their recent trips, Virginia snared a large trout. MY WIFE and I were invited to share in the eating of this big fish. We're always happy to get a free meal, so we made our way to their place in Milton.

MY WIFE took the T after work, planning to meet me at the Central Avenue trolley stop. I drove from Newton. Once we arrived at Central Avenue, we would drive to Virginia and John Paul’s house, a mile or so up the road. On my way, I hit a huge pothole on Morton Street. When I did so, my right rear window fell four inches into the door frame.

Back-story: Three years previous, I lowered that window and then found myself unable to get it back up. The motor was burned out. At that time, I took the car to the repair shop and I told them that I didn’t care about replacing the motor and I didn’t care if the window could be lowered again. I just wanted the window returned to a closed position. They raised it, and somehow propped it, from within the door frame, to stay up. Whatever they had done had worked marvelously well until I hit the pothole on Morton Street.

Nothing much I could do about it now, unfortunately. I arrived at Central Avenue, parked, and waited for MY WIFE. While waiting, I got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, and pushed the window up to the closed position, but as soon as I released it, it fell back to its four-inches-short status.

I thought about bracing it with something. Having nothing else handy, I took an empty cardboard cigarette package, flattened it, folded it in half twice, and then pushed the window up again. I wedged the cigarette package between the window and the door frame. As soon as I let go of the window, it again slid back down four inches, this time taking the cigarette package completely inside of the door frame as a bonus.

There was just too much play between the window and the frame to force it shut with anything short of an actual screw brace. Jamming my rubbish in there would only result in a door frame full of rubbish. While it was slightly amusing knowing that my door frame could be used as a litter receptacle, I also knew that whoever opened the thing up now, to fix the window, would find the empty and flattened Kool package. I imagined the conversation.

"Hello, Mr. Sullivan? We found something strange in your window. You’re not going to believe this, but somebody jammed an empty cigarette package down into your door frame. I don’t know what they were trying to do, but there it was when we opened it up."

"Huh! A cigarette package, you say? Imagine that! Wow!"

"Yup. Like I say, I don’t know what they could have been attempting to do, but there are 15 or 20 similar empty packs on the floor of your back seat, too."

At which point I would probably have to fess up to jamming the cigarette pack into the door frame myself, and then endure finger-pointing and snickering from the mechanics when I went to pick the car up, so I made a mental note to clean out the back seat before bringing the car in to the repair shop.

I gave up on any further attempts at do-it-yourself repair. MY WIFE arrived; we drove to Virginia and John Paul’s, and had dinner. The fish was both ginormous and delicious. They were cordial hosts, and MY WIFE and I enjoyed the evening very much. As nice of an evening as it was, however, the broken window kept creeping back into my thoughts. This was because I hate unforeseen obligations.

For the most part, I am a man of habit. I don’t care for breaks from the routine. I very much prefer to do the same things over and over. For instance, I could be a very happy camper if the rest of my life was spent watching The Three Stooges, eating cookies, and napping. Maybe throw in the occasional blowjob, but you get the point. When something comes up that must be taken care of, I cannot completely relax until it is taken care of. This window was one of those things.

Extenuating circumstances will keep me from fixing something, though, even if NOT fixing it will cost me some peace of mind. In order to get the window fixed, my car would have to be dropped at a repair shop and then I would have to take the bus to work. I would end up walking about a half mile on either end of that trip. As well, I was still involved in my softball playoffs, and being without the car would leave me at the mercy of a teammate for a ride to the field. I could get one, no doubt, but I didn’t want to have to get one. Combining these annoyances kept me thinking that not getting the repair done was preferable for now.

In the meantime, I had to keep rain (as well as insects, birds, squirrels, and maybe a particularly adventurous skunk or cat) from getting inside of my automobile. I put a lumpy sheet of plastic over the gap, affixing it with duct tape. My rather nice-looking Grand Am was now transformed into a semi-junker. A sheet of plastic over a window never looks good. I assumed that other drivers would think that I was too poor to have the repair done. That’s what I would have thought, if it was somebody else’s car. I now drove with shame as my co-pilot.

When our softball playoffs ended, the balance shifted. It now became much more important to my peace of mind to get the window fixed. So, I brought the car in for repair, sucked it up, and took the bus. As long as I was having the window done, I decided I might as well get everything else done that needed doing. I instructed them to do a tune-up, patch one of my tires that had a slow leak, and perform some necessary brake work.

As you well know, anytime you bring a car in for repairs, the mechanic is likely to find something else that needs doing. Such was the case here. I received a call at work.

"Mr. Sullivan? We did the tune-up, replaced the rotors and pads, patched your tire, and we’re working on getting that window up. However, the bushings are shot on your control arm."

I was glad he made no mention of finding a cigarette package inside the door frame, but this was discomforting news. I had only a vague notion concerning what a control arm might do, but having shot bushings didn’t sound pleasant. And I certainly didn’t want to be out of control.


"Yeah, it’s your call, of course, but we can replace the control arm and still get the car back to you today. It will run about $300, though."

Well, when you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, it’s usually best not to argue. I wanted the car in tip-top shape, and having shot bushings in my control arm probably wouldn’t result in that happening, right? I told him to do whatever was needed.

I remember my first car. It was a 1965 Ford Falcon. I could do almost any repair that was needed. There were something like 12 moving parts under the hood, and six of those were hamsters. At various times, I replaced the battery, the alternator, the starter, belts and hoses, all without aid of a real mechanic. I look under the hood of a car now and I am mostly in a foreign country. Everything is jammed up against everything else and the whole shebang is connected in intricate ways to an on-board computer of some sort, and I can’t even see the hamsters. I could take some courses in auto repair, or pay $300 every so often for a control arm with shot bushings. The latter is much easier.

Long story short, I got Roddy back (that’s my car’s name – if your car doesn’t have a name, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but one of you is missing a soul) and all was good. I had solid brakes, a control arm with wonderful bushings, fully inflated tires, and a window not covered in duct tape and plastic. Only one unsettling thing happened.

While I was driving home, and stopped at a red light, I turned to look at the window that had been repaired. I saw, out of the corner of my eye, some sort of inner piece of Roddy now sitting on the back seat floor. I looked down at it. It might have been a piece of the motor from the window, or maybe it was the mysterious control arm with its shot bushings. Whatever it was, the mechanic should have disposed of it. I suppose he wanted to leave me evidence that he had, indeed, done the work, but it was rather like having your gall bladder taken out and, instead of disposing of it, the doctor puts it into your back pocket. You then discover this on your way home from the hospital when you sit down and it makes a squishy noise.

I tried not to alarm Roddy. He had been through enough already. I would dispose of this whatever-it-was once I arrived home. And so I did. I parked Roddy in the garage, opened his back door, and took the offensive mechanical thing out. When I lifted it, I saw, underneath, a neatly folded Kool cigarette pack. So much for hiding my stupidity. There is now probably a note on the repair shop computer:

Cigarette pack found inside door frame. Try not to snicker the next time this dope comes in. We can probably tell him the cuffs are missing from his framistat.

Soon, with more better stuff.


Michelle H. said...

So long as no one calls their car "Christine," after the Stephen King book/movie then I have no problem with people naming their cars.

Jeni said...

Well, a cousin of mine would tell you that naming a car is very important however, for that car to act nicely and be responsive to your every need and whim, it must, absolutely MUST, have a female name! He told my daughter Mandy this was the crux of her problem with a nice Subaru she had several years back which she had named Clifford -and Clifford was, indeed, a big red dog of a car. Every car she's had since she has given it a girl's name and had only minor issues, for the most part with each of them. Thew fact that her husband is an auto mechanic is of no consequence here as her vehicles and mine tend to be the last ones he fixes or gives regular care to as well.

Hilary said...

Great story! I love the line "I now drove with shame as my co-pilot." Too funny. So has the window been repaired properly this time? Is it functional or do you still have to worry about the next big bump?

Suldog said...

MLH - Roddy is definitely a male car, so no thoughts of naming him "Christine".

Jeni - See above. If you ask me how I know he's a he, I don't think I could give you a definitive answer, but I definitely know.

Hilary - The window is fully functional, thank God. They replaced the motor - AND said that it was under warranty, so I didn't have to pay for it. I don't know how that could have been, but never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Rooster said...

Hmm, I always wonder how they find these things. How often would bushings go on a control arm? There are control arms on all 4 wheels (most likey) but only one had the bushings go? Why can't the busings be relaced? Why the whole control arm?

I hate dealing with mechanics.

P.S. My Jeep Wrangler is named "Ruby". My wife's Durango used to be named "The Beast". I love cars with names.

lime said...

my van doesn't really have a name because it's mostly a soulless thing. every other vehicle we've owned has been named though. the motorcycle is thelma and the truck is jezebel. when i named the truck my husband whimpered, "but...but...jezebel was a temptress who led her man into ruin." i just told him i was glad the allusion was not lost on him. ;)

Suldog said...

Rooster - He actually did mention that, before I asked him. He said it wasn't really an option to just replace the bushings. Something about Pontiacs being particularly prone to shot bushings. Again, my ignorance kept me from arguing the point.

(They are good people there, and I trust them. I exaggerate for effect. They have often done small repairs at no charge for me.)

Lime - Jezebel! That's funny!

If the motorcycle is Thelma, do you have a Louise?

Anonymous said...

Well it must run in the family as just the other day my mechanic annonced I need to replace all the cuffs from my framistat. Not only that but there are six on them! Who knew.

Unknown said...

hamsters, hmmm. i wonder if that's how my lumina died (his name was antonio, by the way).

Chuck said...

Glad you got Roddy back safe and sound. I need to get some work done on my car myself. I might get some of it done today (oil change) but not positive yet.

Buck said...

that’s my car’s name – if your car doesn’t have a name, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but one of you is missing a soul

Well, my car does have a name, but the name ("The Green Hornet") was bestowed upon it by a friend, and it just sorta stuck. My current mo'sickle is Miss Zukiko... coz she's Nipponese and... uh... it just fits.

These two conveyances are the first named vehicles in my household in memory. So... I must be rather soul-less, coz the cars certainly weren't/aren't.

SandraRee said...

Funny story! Car trouble is right up there on my list of bad things that happen when you least expect it!

Suldog said...

Uncle Jim - Well, I'll be damned! You must have the ultra-deluxe framistats.

Sarah - You had a hamster named Antonio?

Oh, wait a minute! You mean the Lumina was named Antonio! Well, you see, Luminas come equipped from the factory with gerbils, not hamsters. If you brought Antonio to the repair shop and they installed hamsters, there's your problem right there.

Chuck - Make sure they use only the finest cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. Don't let them pawn off any of that cheap canola oil on you. Unless you own a Lumina like Sarah, then it doesn't matter. The gerbils don't give a damn.

Buck - Obviously, you have recently acquired a soul. Congratulations!

Suldog said...

SR - I've found that EVERYTHING happens when you least expect it. However, maybe I'm just particularly dense.

CSD Faux Finishing said...

My very first car was a '74 Buick Apollo in puke green with all white pleather interior and roof. She was classy. Most of all she was my great aunt's who had driven it nowhere other than church & back for the 20 years she had it so I acquired this gem with less than 25k miles on it. It was a 350 engine, 8 cylinders and I once got it up to 120mph on 128 north (yes only once but really wish I could do that again). How I wish I still had the Green Monster today :) Parked in the garage of course, with gas prices so high that thing would bleed me dry so I am perfectly happy with Little Car instead.

Glad all is well and you got your Kool pack back lol.

david mcmahon said...

Made me smile, Sir Suldog.

Anonymous said...

My first car: a 1965 4-door Chevy Impala. It was PINK. My brother (being 10 years old) named it the Pink Panther. The name stuck, even after I had the thing painted. When I met TW, he had an old Ford pickup named "Fred". When I asked him why Fred, he looked at me, and with a completely straight face said "Because, he's just a Fred." A friend of ours drives a white Ford Taurus SHO that she nicknamed "SHO White". I drive a silver minivan that I call "Shelia".

But at our house, the cars aren't the only things that have names.

My Mom & Dad were given an Electrolux vacuum cleaner for a wedding present in 1953. When the time came, I took it off to college with me, and it is still going strong to this day. When I was a kid, I named it Arnold Ziffel (in honor of the pig on the TV show "Green Acres") because it was kind of pig-shaped, with a snout that sucked stuff up.

And, FWIW, even our gerbils have names. And a blog, too...

Thim :)

Elaine Denning said...

Only the 'occasional' blowjob? Wow. You're easily pleased!

RiverPoet said...

What a great post! Hilarious!!!

That reminds me, I need to come up with a name for my Saturn Aura. I've had her for about a year now, with no name! My Honda Accord, which my husband now uses for commuting, is Rocky.

We also used to know our way around the innards of our cars, having had to do most of the repairs ourselves. Now? It's much cheaper and easier to pay someone. And my Aura? Sends her information through the wireless channels to Saturn to let them know what's wrong. I feel so left out!

Peace - D

Suldog said...

Well, I just want to say that these are a great group of comments! I'm glad to hear that most of you have souls, of course.

Chucka - 120 on 128 in a Buick? Not bad. I assume you didn't encounter any law enforcement personnel...

David - Anytime I can make you smile, it's a good day for me. Thank you!

Thim - We have names for some other things, too, but they're mostly stuff like "That Bastard Toaster" and "The Sonovabitching Oven."

MissUnderstood - I said "occasional" only because I was trying to not be greedy. If the rest of my life is Three Stooges, cookies, and naps, I figure I can only ask for so much. As life now stands, however, rest assured that I will take as many as I'm offered.

RiverPoet - Thanks for the kind words. As for your Aura, if your husband's ride is called "Rocky", then you have a choice of either "Adrian!" or "Bullwinkle." Since the Aura appears to be a she, I'd go with "Adrian!"

RiverPoet said...

Suldog - But you assume my car was named for the Rocky movies or Rocky & Bullwinkle. It was actually named for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. So maybe I should name her Columbia or Magenta! :-)

Thanks for your visit to my blog!

Peace - D

Akelamalu said...

I thought it was just women mechanics tried to fool?

I love the way your put THE WIFE in capitals - you have respect!

Congrats on 'Post of the day' at Authorblog. :)

lime said...

no sir, no louise in this family...the idea of careening into the grand canyon is not one that appeals to me. the bike is thelma because she isn't necessarily sleek but she is powerful and in charge.

Suldog said...

Akelamalu - Mahalo!

Janet said...

My first car was a Mercury Lynx, named almost immediately "The Jinx" which I drove for 5 years until the engine fell out in the middle of the road. Seriously.
I haven't been very creative since then. I usually buy used cars, and I hesitate to name them in case the previous owner already named them, and I wouldn't want to give them an identity crisis.
Although I'm considering named the Jeep "Bunny" short for "Energizer Bunny" because it just rolled over 263,000 miles.

Neponset River Bridge Dig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neponset River Bridge Dig said...

Ok, What I wanted to ask is...Aren't cars traditionally named after a woman?

Watching the three stoogers and getting blowjobs sounds Ok to me but wouldn't you eventually get tired of all thoses blowjobs

Suldog said...

Janet - The engine fell out in the middle of the road? Damn! I can't top that.

Rich - Yeah, that's tradition, I suppose, but since when have I been a traditional sort of guy?

Cath said...

Too funny.
My car is Betsy. Many cars, always Betsy. Funny I choose a female name, you choose a male one.

Congrats on POTD.

And you had to get "blow job" in there somewhere didn't you? You just had to....

Suldog said...

CC - You think I said something about blow jobs? I think you're imagining things. You'd better go read it again.

(Hee-Hee! OK, everybody! How many times do you think she'll re-read the entire piece, just to make sure that it actually says "blow job"? I'm guessing about... Oops! Here she is again! Everybody keep a straight face!)

So, do you still think I said "blow job" somewhere in this story?

Oh, alright, yes, I did. I had a good reason, though. I wanted to say "slow languorous fuck, building in wet sweaty passion until a blindingly severe climax leaves me utterly drained", but this is a family blog.

Suldog said...

Rich - Tired? Of Blowjobs? Are we still talking about Earth here?

Peter N said...

Off topic warning, warning, warning, Will Robinson. Oops, I was Lost In Space for a moment. Hi Sul. It's Yaz' birthday, and I ran, on my blog, a wonderful article from the Hartford Courant. If you have two spare minutes, I KNOW you'll enjoy it. Be well. Hey, the USA Women's softball team lost! I never thought I'd see that happen.
If you can read my post, please leave a comment, telling the readers what you think. After all, we're veterans, so to speak. Thanks...Pete

Shammickite said...

You are right... all cars should have a name.
My current car is called The General.
My partner's car is Gretel.
Previous cars have been Erik the Red Volvo and Baby Beluga (white VW bug).

Anonymous said...

Suldog, I have just found you though Authorblog and will definately be back. The very first car I bought was when my husband was away on business. I was pregnant amd stranded out of town. I saw an ad. for a car at the then princely sum of £50...yes, I am going back a bit. I took a bus and walked to the address and saw this big, black tank of a vehicle and with shaking hands wrote out the cheque. It was a Humber, born in the forties I think and I named him Black Beauty as I proudly drove him home, though to be honest, there was nothing beautiful about the beast. Husband was not best pleased when he arrived home and saw it sitting out in the road and I was obliged to play the 'Hormone' card to placate him. Needless to say Black Beauty did not stay with us for long, and it was sometime before I was trusted with a cheque book.