Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Roddy Oddity

My car’s name is Roddy.

(I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: If your car doesn’t have a name, then one of you has no soul. This tale revolves around Roddy, so I figured I should get the explanations out of the way immediately. You might have thought I was talking about an afghan hound or something if I just started writing "Roddy had to be registered" and "He also had to go for a wash".

So, anyway...)

Roddy had to be registered. He also had to go for a wash. In addition, he needed to be inspected, but he wouldn’t pass the inspection unless he had a headlight repaired. After all of those things were taken care of, I was going to get him gassed – it seemed like a nice reward for going through all of that - then I’d do some shopping and get a haircut.

When I left work on Friday, I told everyone that I’d be a bit late on Monday due to going to the registry. I knew I had to do the other things, too, but I figured I’d take care of those tasks at various odd times throughout the week. However, come Monday morning, I decided I might as well take a personal day and get everything done at once. So, I phoned the office and left a message on Dan’s phone.

I usually get to the office by 8 o’clock or so, the first one in. Dan is my partner in the production department, and he’s generally the next one to arrive. So, I called, left him the message, and went about getting the various tasks done.

I should explain why Roddy needed to be registered, lest you think I’ve been driving around in an illegal car during the eight years since I bought him. Almost four years ago, I requested a vanity license plate from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At that time, they started offering Boston Celtics license plates. Dan, as a matter of fact, told me about it. He and his wife, Mandy - as well as me and my wife, MY WIFE - are big Celtics fans. He and Mandy had been at a game, and they saw a table manned by people hawking applications for these license plates. They signed up for one. They told us about it, and we ordered one.

Now, you have to understand something important. The Celtics were hideous then. They weren’t the once and (possibly) future champions they are now. They were in the midst of an 18-game losing streak, the worst such streak in franchise history. The Garden was half-filled for most of their games. There were about as many people who wanted a Boston Celtics license plate as might have desired a case of the trots. So, in order to entice folks into ordering the plates, the Celtics were offering a pair of free tickets with each order.

The thing was, the plate came with a $40 fee. The tickets were worth something like $60. In other words, the Celtics and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were willing to pay us $20 to get a Celtics license plate and see a game. And proceeds from sales of the plates benefited Childrens Hospital Boston, one of the top pediatric facilities in the nation. Who could say no to such a deal?

The answer, apparently, was "almost everybody in the state." Before production would begin on the plates, the state wanted 1,500 applications. Here I was, yesterday, after almost four years, finally getting my plates. I still find it hard to believe it took this long to find 1,500 Celtics fans. I mean, come on! They won a championship in the interim. Every frontrunner and bandwagon-jumper in the state must have ordered them. But, has the state ever lied to me before? Not in any way for which I could give you concrete evidence, and I’m not interested in having them look into whether I’ve lied to them, so let’s just drop it.

I had to do things in the correct order. For instance, if I had Roddy inspected before I had him re-registered, then I’d have to get him inspected again. In order to pass the inspection, he needed to have his headlight fixed. In the meantime, if he ran out of gas? Then I’d get nothing accomplished and need a tow besides. In addition, he was fairly cruddy from road salt and such, so a nice wash would probably smooth out any concerns the inspector might have been less willing to overlook if he weren’t such a nice-looking and gentlemanly automobile.

Before I could get the new plates, I had to strip off the old plates to hand in at the registry. This was a nice little workout for me. Roddy had not had his plates removed in eight years. The screws were rusty and very tightly screwed. I leaned into them, while kneeling on the street in the very pleasant 18-degree morning, and it only took 15 minutes and every ounce of my strength to get the damn things off.

Now I had to drive a car with no plates, which is illegal. I hadn’t thought of that. I considered putting the plates back on while I went to the car wash, but I wasn’t about to tighten the screws back to their previous level. And, if I left them loosened, with my luck they’d fall off (and the plates, as well) when I went through the car wash, breaking all of their machinery and costing me a bazillion dollars. I left them off and took my chances.

Of course, when you’re driving around with no plates, in a car with an inspection sticker that expired yesterday, and a broken headlight, you run into four times as many cops as usual. I imagined every one of them giving me the stink eye, ready to pull me over and throw the book at me. Amazingly, though, not a single one of them seemed to notice. While I was happy to be so spectacularly unarrested, it did give me pause to think that perhaps the local heat weren’t paying as much attention as they should. Or maybe they were busy busting murderers and rapists and terrorists. I’ll pretend that was the case.

One of the guys at the car wash noticed. As he was soaping Roddy down, he said to the other guy, the one operating the machinery, “Hey! This guy has no plates!” The other guy said, “I don’t give a shit. He paid.” That’s the sort of attitude that keeps this country running smoothly and it makes me proud to be an American.

After the wash, I drove through the many police again, but this time they probably let me go because Roddy looked so spectacularly shiny. I drove into a gas station that did inspections, got a fill-up, and inquired as to whether or not they could repair Roddy’s headlight prior to doing an inspection. I was assured that it could be done, so I told the attendant I’d be back after I got my new plates.

I should mention here that I didn’t repair the headlight myself because new cars (or, in Roddy’s case, relatively new cars, if 1997 is relatively new) have all of their stuff jammed up against all of the other stuff so tightly, you can’t get at anything unless you remove two or three other things. I used to own a 1965 Ford Falcon, and I could do every repair I needed to do on that car, myself, because there were only six moving parts under the hood and one of them was a cat that crawled up into there to get warm on a cold night. There isn’t room under Roddy’s hood for a hummingbird to wedge itself in.

OK, so I went to the registry, where the line to get into the place was about a quarter-mile long. This is because the registry, being an arm of the state government, is always trying to do helpful things to ease the burden of the workingman. They had thoughtfully made their schedule 9-to-5, Monday-Friday, so that nobody could come, say, after work, or before work, or on weekends, or any other convenient time for somebody with an actual job. I got into line with all of the other folks who were missing work and waited.

Actually, the line moved fairly quickly, all things considered, and I got to the front of it only twenty minutes after entering it. Then I was given a number and told to wait for it to be called. It was, about fifteen minutes later. I traded in my plates, went back outside to the parking lot - where the temperature had shot up to 21 degrees by this time – and installed my lovely new Celtics plates on Roddy. Then it was back to the service station, where only two cars were now in front of me for inspection, whereas none had been before. Whatever. Another 45 minutes, combined, for the headlight repair and the inspection, and $60 or so later I was on my way with a lovely clean car, full of gas, headlights beaming, fully registered and inspected, and sporting Lucky The Leprechaun license plates.

It was about 11:00 now, so I decided I’d do a little bit of grocery shopping, then get a sorely needed haircut, and then head home. I did these things and was mighty proud to have accomplished so much in one day and still have time for a decent snooze, which I did and which I took.

Do you believe in ESP? I believe in ESPN, but that’s about it. Sometimes, however, you find yourself getting signals of some sort and it’s hard to ignore the implications. During my little nap, I had a most vivid dream. I was at work. For some reason, I was still trying to get everything I detailed above done, but I couldn’t leave work. They needed me because someone else hadn’t shown up.

I woke up with a vicious headache. That has nothing to do with the story, but I just felt like complaining.

I got out of bed and went into the other room. I saw that there was a message on our answering machine. It was from Kim, our office manager. She asked me to call the office. I did. She asked me where I was. I said I was at home. She seemed relieved to hear this, but she wondered why I hadn’t called in earlier to tell everyone that I wasn’t going to be in. I said that I had, and had left a message on Dan’s voicemail.

“Ah,” she said, “That explains it.”

It seems I had run into one of the problems with working in a smaller office. I had taken a personal day, but Dan had also decided to take one. So, nobody ever heard my message. They all thought I was dead or had run off to join the circus or something like that.

Spooky! Perhaps the headache and the dream had come about because all of my co-workers had been thinking about me and broadcasting their thoughts and I was picking them up. Or not.

This has been a fairly pointless 2,000 words, but I appreciate you having slogged through them. You must really like me. I could have said most of what needed to be said in the following twelve words: Roddy looks really nice in his new plates, and here’s some photos.

I know those don’t make up for your time, but it’s the best we can do at the moment. Roddy asks me to tell you that he appreciates your patience and he loves you all. He says that if you ever need a ride to a Celtic's game, he'll gladly give you one.

Soon, with more coherent stuff.


Saz said...

WOw...all of that for a smiley face and a CS??? I know l'm a heathen when it comes to sports....and l'm srry if l have affronted you my good man, by stating 'smiley face' and just 'CS'

these specialised or customised plates here cost fortunes... and then there's always the abuse to consider...which is why Larry never has a Celtic (the football team)scarf of emblem anywhere on his car a sit carries kids...and it can get mean!!!

anyhow....all l want for christmas is a number plate with

SA24AB or S42FAB that would be GR8!!!

saz x

Anonymous said...

"That’s the sort of attitude that keeps this country running smoothly and it makes me proud to be an American."

Me too!


And hope your headache went away. *smile*

Suldog said...

Saz - I understand Larry's concern, where you are, but, see, we're more spread out here. You'd have to go at least 200 miles to start hitting fans of other basketball teams, so unless I drive to New York or Philadelphia, no problem with my car being abused.

Suldog said...

Quirky - I popped a few aspirin. It did. Thanks!

Cricket said...

See, that's the beauty of living in a proper city. the local constabulary have actual to worry about. Unless you're really begging for it, they're not about to bust you over something that doesn't matter.

Though shoving a plate in the front and rear windows can get you off the hook, with the appropriate story to go along with it.

Go Celts!

Cricket said...

Oops. "actual" = "actual crime"

Unknown said...

As always, Jim, you make me laugh writing about anything. This was highly entertaining, and gives me an opportunity to tell you about my own vanity plates. I am not making this up just to irritate you (not that I WOULDN'T, but in this case it's unnecessary).

California plates, of course, reading:


After having the plates for four years, they're finally accurate.

Suldog said...

Cricket - Yes, there is that lack of trivial pursuit to be thankful for. Really, if I was stopped, I had the plates on the front seat and I could have probably talked them out of anything nasty. Not that big a deal.

Suldog said...

Knucklehead - You're my buddy and all, but please. Gag me. Hey, are you a KNICKS fan, too? If so, that evens out our personal scoreboard quite a bit: you with the Yanks and Knicks, me with the Sox and Celtics. We'd each have one amazingly big winner, and one mostly underachiever :-)

Elaine Denning said...

Don't wory about wasting my time and boring me; I only looked at the pictures:)

Buck said...

I used to own a 1965 Ford Falcon, and I could do every repair I needed...

Same story here. I USED to do all that maintenance stuff myownself but no longer. The upside, though, is cars need much less maintenance today. Example: The Green Hornet is coming up on her tenth birthday this year and still has the original plugs in her stout lil heart. Same for the old Vette and Impala SS I got rid of 11 years ago - I owned each for seven years or so and never twisted a plug out of either... and they never had a tune up.

My, but we do go on. Nice plates!

Michelle H. said...

I thought those customized plates costed more than that. Maybe it's just the area where I live.

Roddy does look spiffy, even if he's sporting a green, pot-smoking, elf on his butt. (I'll never understand the themes sports teams will come up with.)

Unknown said...

Gos Celtics! Rondo ruled the other night!
PS: Catchers and Pitchers report soon for spring training!

Craig said...

Hmmmm. . .

When I was a kid growing up in Michigan back in the 60s, of course I hitched my loyalty cart to all of the Detroit pro sports teams. I made two exceptions to this pattern - I fell in love with (a) Sandy Koufax and (b) Wilt Chamberlain. Don't ask me why, except that they were both like gods playing games with mere mortals (that, and the Pistons sucked in those days). But of course, the damn Celtics kept gettin' in the way. Not that I didn't respect Bill Russell, or bear a grudging admiration for the Celtics, it's just that, year after year (with one exception), Wilt's season ended at the hands of the *&^%$#@! Celtics. ("Havlicek stole the ball!" and all that. . .)

And then, in the mid/late 80s, when the Pistons were good, AGAIN the damn Celtics kept gettin' in the way (to say nothing of the fact that Magic Johnson is a native of the town I live in, and so we were all de facto Laker fans). I will still occasionally wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night to the ghost of Johnny Most yelling, "Bird stole the ball!" (I mean, are you freakin' kidding me? Again with the 'stole the ball'? Can't we be just a little bit original?)

But it did make it all the sweeter the next year when we finally beat their asses. . .

So yeah - happy for ya, with the new license plates and all, but you won't mind if I skip the party, wouldja?

Jackie said...

I love a 'laugh out loud post'...I rarely laugh out loud when I'm reading a blog, but a line 'snuck' up on me...and...well, it happened. ("That’s the sort of attitude that keeps this country running smoothly and it makes me proud to be an American.")
You are one terrific writer, Jim. I enjoy being here and reading about you...your day...your car...and your ESP. Thank you so much! Many smiles right back to you.
Hugs from Jackie

CiCi said...

My car doesn't have a name. But I know which one of has no soul. And I hope to find mine soon.

lime said...

roddy's a good fellow and i'm glad to have met him and grateful for the comfy ride he gave me....gees, if we didn't all know i was talking about a car that could sound kind of crude. good thing none of us here would ever have such thoughts....bwahahha...i think i hurt myself laughing.

Craig said...

Lime, you are gonna do time in purgatory for that one. . .


Hilary said...

Roddy sure looks shiny and proud. Hope your head feels better by now. :)

Sueann said...

All this for a Celtic's plate, huh? Well it is a spiffy plate and Roddy is one handsome car. But it took that long to get enough people to sign up for them? I am shocked too! I mean, come on already!! And yes, I read your entire post and enjoyed every word. I'm proud to be an American too! LOL! Thank God for good ole American customer service!! We would be anarchist without it.

Ananda girl said...

Roddy looks swell in his new plates and clean body!

Here there is one DMV within a 100 miles that is open on Sat. for the working fellows... and they all show up, so the line goes out the door and around the side of the building. I'm not sure if that is progress or not.

Anonymous said...

Not a pointless 2000 words. Enjoyed every one of them. You give me hope with the 20 minute line. I still need to go to DMV. Enjoy the license plate!

Ruth and Glen said...

Skeeter Hawk approves of your TLC for Roddy. He's really looking snazzy with that vanity plate, he's got a full belly and he's legal now. LOL

Daryl said...

I am not sure why we didnt name our Plymouth Fury back in the day ... I name everything else . maybe it was cause it wasnt mine ... even tho I drove it more than anyone else..

♥ Braja said...

2000 words and all I got was this lousy...er...ah hell I dunno.

I have a rickshaw, and it doesn't have personalized plates. Or...any....

Karen said...

That sounds like it was quite a day :)

One Friday, I called my boss to let her know I wouldn't be coming in that day. On Monday when I reviewed my voicemails at work, there was a message from my boss that she'd left on Friday saying that she wouldn't be coming in.

Sad thing is... nobody missed us! Ha!

connie/Mom said...

Happy to hear you FINALLY got your Celtics plate.

Libby says congrats. She will be going for her inspection sticker this month also.

I can't believe it's been a year already since I got her.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Imagine, 4 years to get Celtics plates, who'd a thunk?
BTW, my current car is named Ruby (she's a lovely shade of red) and I've even named my house, The Jewel (seems like a theme there.)
Anyway, thanks for sharing in your usual humorous way.

i beati said...

even Celtics green. I'm a fan from Cousy days

I have an agriculture plate in honor of a long loine of farmers 70.00 to renew it Sigh

Anonymous said...

As ever a great story even if, slightly, sport related. I just love your digressions.

Jeni said...

Four YEARS to get the plates? WOW. And all that rigamaroo with the registration and such too? Wow again! In Pennsylvania, I think all you need to get vanity plates is the extra moola! Well, if you want a special vanity plate with a special spelling or numbers in a specific sequence or some such, you do have to wait until it's checked out that no one else already is using said design and who knows how long that might take in a govt. run operation ya know.

Unknown said...

"and me and my wife, MY WIFE..."

That had me cracking up but then again, I am easily amused by silly things. In fact this entire post was utterly hilarious at points. Mostly the time when you said that you were done with all that stuff including the RMV by 11AM. Roddy looks great.

jo said...

Shall I tell you that the 6ft blond chef downstairs who works for us is the daughter of the one and only Dave Cowens? She plays a pretty mean game herself.

Janet said...

Roddy is quite handsome. If they tried to do inspections here, 90% of the vehicles wouldn't pass.