Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When Talents Were Handed Out, I Passed On Car Repair and Sports.

I was stalled on the freeway this morning for about 45 minutes before the AAA tow truck arrived - all because my 9-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee’s transmission decided to die.

There I was going about my normal ritual of listening to “the history of bumblebee mating calls” or something like that on NPR (not sure since I usually “zone-out” anyways until some interesting topic comes up.) Next thing you know, my car was coasting as if an alien mothership was hovering above me and stole the power (or all of my $3.49 a gallon gas – stupid aliens!)

On the way to the Jeep dealer, my Armenian tow-truck driver was talking into his cell phone the whole trip speaking in his secret language. I had the crazy suspicion he was talking about me. Why? Because he kept glancing my way, and then would whisper as if I wouldn't understand his mumbling. I don’t know Armenian but I can understand when somebody is talking about me in another language (it’s a superpower of mine - kind of like invisibility or impersonating a Bee-Gee.)
When we arrived at the dealer, the first words I hear from the service guy's mouth was “Hey Buddy! Why don’t you just get a new Jeep….I can show you some out on the lot”.
No dude, just fix my car. I do not want a car payment, I do not want to walk the lot, I do not like your shirt. I do not like the Beatles, and I do not like green eggs and ham!!
When the wife picked me up from that horrible place, my stomach sank and I immediately got that feeling as if I were the “new guy with the Tom Selleck mustache” just about to take my first prison shower. I knew they were going to give it to me.
And they did - $4,100 (more than the car’s worth.) But since the guy thought I “was cool” (maybe it was my haircut, or lack thereof) he was going to knock off 10% (still a little more than what the car’s worth.)

Why didn’t they just take my kidney and steal my cookie!? (I screamed to the heavens above...!)

I hate to say it, but I’m attached to the car. I bought it just before the ‘sexy-lady who would become my wife’ moved out here from Paris (not the Texas one.) We drove the car on our wedding day to the hotel and then to the airport for our honeymoon. We packed and moved into our first house in it. We’ve taken it on road trips to far away places and on camping trips to the mountains (we would get rained on and then retreat to the back of the jeep.) We drove our newborn daughter home in it for the very first time (I still remember that day as if were yesterday…) I’m not a sentimental, emotional, sappy guy - but the thing is part of the family.
So while the wife and I were researching options of what to do --buy another car? (No, we’re going to Fiji in a few weeks and the money-tree ain’t producing no mo’!) Sell it to that mechanic at the dealer with two gold teeth who offered $700? (never trust a dude with gold teeth -- unless, of course, there's a grill that says “money”.)

I just couldn’t do it.

Thankfully, a longtime friends’ dad (an amazing guy that I’ve known for years since college who practically knows everything “real guys” should know - like how to change oil or make steak chili) happens to have a friend who owns a shop, offered to fix the car for much less than the dealer.
I jumped at it! Why? Because I’m attached to it, just like old underwear.

I can’t be the only one, right?


MommasWorld said...

I feel your pain and enthusiasm! My teenagers share a car and I have an "old" Lincoln. Many days spent in the driver's seat not driving but just sitting in it when I was pregnant with Snow White. It was (still is) the most comfortable seat anywhere! Yes, I could purchase a new Lincoln but the seats are not the same. I really like the trunk space but I really need a Mini Van (ouch that hurt to type). When my teens complain about having to drive Mommy's Car I remind them...we have a 1919 Model T and I am more than willing to break it out and pick them up at school in the "T". I have only done this once and the pleading response was "Pa-a-lease, never do this to me again, my friends now think I am Amish." What is wrong with being Amish other than my childrens' friends who said it are obviously idiots. The Amish do not drive Model Ts.

karla said...

FUNNY! My car is on the fritz too, but unlike you, despite the fact that it's been through every life milestone with my husband and me, I can't wait to see it go because it is tiny and just doesn't have room for the dog and a kid anymore.

Stay at home dad said...

$4000? That's only £2000. A night out at the cinema with popcorn, a coke, a meal afterwards, taxis, tube fares, bus and a babysitter would cost us that in London!

We're all being forced to sell our gas-guzzlers in favour of Toyota Priuses over here...


wayabetty said...

There are mechanics who are like Draculas, they just suck the money out of you as if you had a "loser" sign on your forehead.

So, how much less did your friend's Dad charge you? Just so I can get a gist of how stupid those mechanics think you were.

metro mama said...

I hate it when the time comes to decide between car payments and outrageous repair bills. We went through that this year.

Lisa said...

Wow! You can impersonate a Bee Gee? Can I book you for my son's birthday party in June?

Redneck Mommy said...

I hear your pain. My beloved minivan's transmission bottomed out leaving us on the hook for massive repair bills.

Sadly, I lost the battle and had to trade her in for new wheels. My heart still hurts when I think of her.

Oh, Lucy, how I miss you.

(Shaddup. Yes, I named my van. Shush.)

creative-type dad said...

wayabetty - He gave me a range, all depending if the transmission "case" is cracked. $2,400 on the low end. $2,900 on the high end.
Of course that includes the other things that broke along with the transmission and are in need of repair now - like some valve gasket cap, rear differiential something, and apparently my front brakes are hanging on for dear life.

Lisa - yes. Andy. I perform only on the karoke circuit these days (ones on bowling alleys preferred.)

Redneck Mommy - Lucy? O.K. I'm curious, how did you come up with that name...

Whit said...

FYI, that grill is out there, have faith in that one.

Dude, you don't like The Beatles?

Oh, The Joys said...

Oh, God -- the old underwear. I have to throw it away myself.

Tuesday Girl said...

We had a horrible experience with Jeep, the dealer and the car itself.

They are all crazy and I hate them as much as I do the dealer that sold us teh POS.

endangered coffee said...

I feel your pain. I would be more comfortable performing brain surgery blindfolded (and I ain't no doctor) than I would be trying to figure out how to fix my damn car.

L.A. Daddy said...

Yeah, my '98 Grand Cherokee has the exact same problem. The tranny is about to drop completely out of it.

But $4100?! Oy. No way. To rebuild the whole thing wouldn't cost more than $2200.

Oh, and if you're ever going to sell it for $700... please call me :)

Darren a/k/a Clare's Dad said...

I felt the same way when we had to let Hans go a few weeks ago. We got the same price quoted to us for transmission and related stuff too. Are they all trained to say $4000?

And I'm the same way with cars. They could tell me the flux capacitor went and I'd say, "How much?"

Annie said...

lol - the only thing we do at the dealer is buy the car - they never see it after that :)

The Real Mother Hen said...

Hhmm... maybe the lesson here is don't buy Grand Cherokee (after knowing yours and LA Dad's)? Ok will I get ran over if I were to promote Toyota here? Oh I love my 95 Toyota 4Runner (so old that it has a cassette player)! :)

InterstellarLass said...

I have never had a love affair with a car. Once they start giving me trouble, I turn on them and get rid of them ASAP.

But getting a good deal on car repair is ALWAYS a good thing.

Mel said...

Heh. No, you're not the only one. I currently have a deceased Jeep Cherokee sitting in my one and only parking spot out front here. Because though we are poorer than fleas on a churchmouse, the husband still entertains dreams of getting it to run again.

Kate said...

Oooh, I'm with you. I know nothing about how to fix a car either. But I do know that dealerships steal your firstborn to pay for repairs. Good thing you found a righteous mechanic who isn't raking you over the coals.

The only car I've been attached to was my first that I got when I was 17: a 1964 VW bug. Royal blue with a sunroof and rainbow racing stripes. It was totally cool. I hated to see that thing go when it finally died for good. I had a cooler car at 17 than I do now!

And yeah, how about that gas -- WTF? It's $3.19 here in Ohio.

creative-type dad said...

Whit - Yup, I don't like the Beatles. To me that's like saying I like New Kids on the Block, or N.Sync -all overrated. But if others don't feel the same way, I don't care. It's not like I live to bring them down.
Although I do like the Paul duos with Micheal Jackson in the 80s.

Oh, The Joys - Say it ain't so!! bad wife! bad! :)

Darren a/k/a Clare's Dad - I want a car with a flux capacitor!

The Real Mother Hen - seriously, the car hasn't been that bad. It has 175k on it and this is the only major service we've had.

Kate - $3.19? That's a bargain out here. People would kill if a station sold it that cheap.

dennis said...

your wife's family is from Paris, Ohio?

I've been there and would almost pay any price to live somewhere else too!!

Ruth Dynamite said...

Our 98 Passat is still as beautiful as the day we bought her, and we're never ever ever going to say g'bye, ya understand?

Maybe one day, when her body starts to creak (more than it does now) and her engine cries out "No more!" or she has some full-out nervous mechanical breakdown on a highway during rush hour - then, well, then we'll have some hard decisions to make. (Like, I wonder if Tony's friend the mechanic can fly to CT to fix our beloved car?)

kittenpie said...

Naw, my parents have gone to some heroic lengths to hang onto the old cars, though I'm not sure if it's sentimental or just plain cussedness.

junebee said...

We FEEL your pain, Tony! Our local Nissan dealer was trying to give it to us up the heiney! So, we had it towed to another garage. The (female) tow truck driver said to my husband - "see, the problem is you took it to a dealer, drug dealer, car dealer, see, they're all DEALERS!"

Denver Dad said...

Dude... you don't like the Beatles? That's just... unnatural. I mean, yeah, I understand how car trouble can be an emotional time, but don't be hating the Fab Four.

Geez, Creative-Type, and I thought I knew you, man. :)

creative-type dad said...

junebee - How did I miss that? Drug dealers, car dealers. It all makes sense now!!!

Denver Dad - yeah, I get that reation a lot. But I've "tried" to like them over the years... I just can't (music oh soooo bad!) My list of things I just can't like - ever:
*Kevin Costner
*Tom Cruise
*The Beatles

Rob Barron said...

I seem to recall a similiar post about your car... but love is love.

What freeway were you stalled on? the 210? The 105? I'm guessing in the general Glendale/LaCanada/Flintridge area because it has the highest Armenian population outside of Armenia.

Stephanie said...

Okay, I *heart* you, but:
Do *heart* the Beatles
Do *heart* Meatloaf (we are talking about the singer/actor, huh?)
I totally agree with you about Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner, although my husband enjoys their work. (Go figure!)

About your sweet li'l ol' veee-hicle: I think the attachment is largely a dude thang. My husband, my brother, my father, and all my uncles can lovingly recite every vehicle they've ever owned.

jennster said...

does this mean i have 2 years until my jeep dies?!!?!!!

creative-type dad said...

Rob Barron - yup in Glendale.

Stephanie - yup the singer and not the tasty food

jennster - if it has 175,000 like mine...maybe!!??

jenny said...

my transmission went in my 4runner last year and coolant somehow went all through the engine...we had it towed to a toyota dealership where the guy quoted me over $4000 in parts and about that for labor then tried to sell me a new one.

I had it towed out of there later that afternoon and the whole engine and transmission repair didn't even come to $3500.

It's my first SUV, it's a Toyota...I love it.