On Saturday we pushed the rolling box o’ beds out of our garage, and set it up on the driveway. We’re thinking about selling it, and wanted to see if a coven of hedgehogs had taken up residence inside. And, I’m happy to report, they had not.
I don’t believe we’ve used that trailer since 2006, which means it’s been idle for two full summers. Clearly, our camping days are behind us. So we might put it on Craig’s List and see how it goes.
But it’s a funny thing… All four of us felt kind of sad when we climbed back inside the ridiculous contraption. It still smells of ancient campfires, and we were getting all nostalgic with it.
Why do we only remember the good times? Why is the past so often romanticized in our minds? We were fixating on the rare days when everything went perfectly, when we were all happy and smiling and enjoying fantastic burgers cooked out of doors.
Yet there’s a reason why we haven’t gone camping in two years, and that’s because reality almost never lives up to the fond memories. We’d go chasing that Norman Rockwell dream, and it would be two hundred degrees and humid outside, all of us would be breaded in filth, and I’d have gnats whitewater rafting down the length of my crackal region.
Yeah, maybe we can make enough money to pay for two or three weeks-worth of stays at Courtyard by Marriott?
A few weekends ago Toney did our taxes, and the results were not satisfactory. The little window at the top of the TurboTax page told us we owe the United States government $6000.
I just about shit my pants — every pair.
No way it could be true, no way. We’ve always gotten at least a small refund, we’ve never had to cut a check. Maybe she made a (significant) mistake? The house was rockin’ with middle school shenanigans as she plugged in the information; there was a good chance something went askew. Right? That’s the hope we clinged-to.
I suggested she close the program, and we give it some breathing room. We could revisit it in a couple of weeks, when things are quieter and calmer around here, and be extra-careful with it.
And every time I thought about it during those two weeks, my stomach twisted like somebody was wringing-out a washcloth. I believed it was wrong, but my former employer had paid me out for 500 hours of unused vacation in 2008. What if it got jacked-up somehow? What if we really did owe six grand? Gulp.
On Saturday Toney returned to the computer with all her scraps of paper, and started over. The final verdict: a $41 refund. Whew. We owe the state of Taxylvania about $200, but under the circumstances… I’ll dance to the mailbox with it.
I guess you shouldn’t try to prepare your taxes in the middle of a Guitar Hero tournament? Is that the moral of the story? I think that might be one of them.
More good news: I got my car inspected on Saturday morning, and everything checked-out. My Camry is in good shape, but you never know. Those garages, I think, use state inspections as an opportunity to bend you over the credenza.
A few years ago, in fact, I took my Blazer (worst vehicle ever) to a well-known outfit, and asked for an inspection. And when they were finished I was handed a long list of problems that needed correcting. I think the bottom-line quote was in the neighborhood of $750.
My brain almost exploded with anger — the dude was trying to rip me off — and I told him to put everything back together; I wasn’t paying him a cent for “repairs.” Then I took my vehicle somewhere else, where it passed with no issues whatsoever.
So, I’m always hesitant going into those deals. The garage we’ve been using seems honest, but they have a revolving door of employees there. Who knows what today’s guy will be like?
But I was pleased with that result as well; it was the weekend of good results. I got an oil change, tire rotation, and all necessary inspections — for $71. It seems almost impossible to me.
Have you ever been ripped-off by a mechanic? I have no doubt that I have, but nothing overly blatant like the walking, talking alimentary canal I mentioned above. I’m stupid, especially when it comes to cars, but not that stupid.
Use the comments section to tell us your horror stories — or near-misses — involving car repair. The pricks.
And I’ll leave you now with an exclusive peak inside the new Yankee Stadium, with Smoking Fish. Check it out. The Yankees are trying to keep all this under wraps, but the vast network of liars and backstabbers never sleeps. Pass the beer nuts.
Also, be sure to check out today’s Further Evidence. I’ve watched it at least five times, and always ended up with tears in my eyes. That’s some funny shit right there.
Have a great day, my friends.
I’ll see you tomorrow.
I am a relatively young guy, but I have an amazing job. I fix commercial espresso machines. I’m talking about starbucks, and your local coffee shacks, their 10-15-20 thousand dollar machines. I started while I was still in high school, and have been doing it ever since, on the side now that I am finishing college. What this job has taught me, is compassion for (most) mechanics. I have quit two jobs, and have been fired from another, for not wanting to screw a customer(various fields, most service industry).
My job fixing espresso machines is a lot like fixing cars, believe it or not. When someone’s machine malfunctions, they bring it to me to fix. The problem is that the only way I can do my job is by diagnosing. I fire up the machine and try to figure out what is wrong. All I can fix is what I see when I have a machine in my shop. There have been dozens of times when a customer claimed I cheated them, or added on unneeded parts to jack up the price. This breaks my heart, because I realize every machine I work on is the lifeblood of someone’s business. The funny thing is, I WANT them to succeed, I like most of the people I work for. Yet they seem convinced that my only priority is to screw them over. This is why I feel for auto mechanics.
Let me give you an example: A customer says their espresso machine is malfunctioning. They haven’t had it serviced in 10 years, and the wear and tear has taken its toll. The problem sounds simple, and I quote them $300. When I take the machine apart, it turns out that the customer lives in an area with extremely high mineral deposits in the water. They weren’t using a water filter to ensure clean water. All of their copper fittings ( some of you should know how easy copper is to bend or break) are almost sealed shut due to calcification. As soon as I try to remove them, the fittings break, or they crossthread when I try to put them back on. My estimate is doubled, and the customer hates me. I had no intention of ripping someone off, yet their lack of maintenance has cost them dearly. What do I do? What do I say?
Give mechanics a break I say. At least sometimes.
I’m a mechanic, and i own my own shop. I was the shop foreman at a dealership that had a rep for doing pretty shitty work. It got to the point where sometimes I was embarrased to tell people where I worked. One issue was its hard to find good techs that actually give a shit about what they are doing. My manager kept hiring these kids fresh out of school that couldnt fix a ham sandwich. I had been working on cars almost as long as some these greenhorns had been alive. Its ok to be young and inexperienced, but not when there are 10 or 12 of these punks F’n up cars left and right and nobody , even in management, gives two shits .
I said F dis and opened my own shop. I go by the saying, Karmas a Bitch. Dont fuck people, always be honest and straight forward. Always be fair , to yourself and the customer. Ive got so much work to do I cant see straight. At the end of the day I know I did an honest days work.
Renee —— I specialize in Volkswagens. The EVAP purge solenoids do go bad, but most of the time if there is a “gross leak detected” you left the gas cap loose
For car repairs, the advice to find a good local mechanic is right on the money. I found mine by asking around on a web forum that pertains to the brand of car I drive. OK, I’ll name names – if you’re in northern Virginia, Convenience Car Care in Manassas is the place to go. They are not super-cheap, but they do the work (which the dealership might not), and they do it correctly (which the dealership might not). On top of that, they are nice folks – and have an espresso machine for your use! They also sell used cars, and there is usually something interesting to look at on the lot – Porsche race car, Unimog, etc.
Have I ever been ripped off by a mechanic? Hmmmm, let’s see, oh yes, why I do have a vagina. I could write a book about the number of times I have been ripped off. Bikerchick I am right there with ya’ (minus the big fun bags). Here are two of my personal faves:
1) Tilly and I were on a road trip after I had a several hundred dollar engine repair. We start hearing this terrible knocking noise. Tilly says she can fix it. I say, you can? And she turns the stereo up full blast. Before we can even get to the next exit the car is dead. It was serious coin to have the car towed back to the original mechanic, who I thought would do the right thing. After several hundred more dollars I found out that was not his intention.
2) Dropped the car off at WallyWorld for new tires. They promptly drove it into a post causing more that 3K in damage. If I want them to pay for fixing the car I am going to have to sue them, not because they say they didn’t do it, but because they say it wasn’t their fault. Oh my, I may be blonde, but I am not a complete maroon.
P.S. I know there are good, honest mechanics around. I just can’t seem to find one when I need one. Rats.
I think the mud bearing on your muffler pump is wore out.
We got my hubby’s Mom’s car that had sit undriven for a couple of years after she died. Somebody started it every other day and drove it once a week, but otherwise it was a sitter. I took it to the local dealership for that type of car and gave them a list of things to be checked. One was the tires. They had to be rotten and the treads looked mighty thin to me.
Oh, no. They swear it’s all fine. I pay $250 and leave. I make it to Frosty’s Chevron (now defunct) and as I used to always do after an inspection or a fluid change, I paid the extra for full-service fill-up and had them check the oil. It was out of oil. It didn’t even register on the stick. So, I leave the car there and have them check out everything on the list. Nothing had been done at a price of $250. The mechanic was so mad when he got it up on the rack he sent someone over to get me to take me to the shop to show me the dry rot on the tires and how there was no possible way that car had ever seen a rack or a mechanic before the stop at Frosty’s. I never went back to that dealership, and when that car died we bought its replacement from a dealership we know we can trust.
Northerner on Holiday says
I never get taken by mechanics. Ever. My mechanic has full access to the cotton candy amusement park of wonder and glee.
Well, maybe not full access but enough to insure I don’t get fucked, figuratively at least.
I get my oil changed at a drive thru ‘monkey lube’ or somesuch every 3000 miles and refuse all over services. I drive a 10 year old Honda…and in ten years I will be driving a 20 year old Honda.
I spent 7 years in the Army Reserves pretending to be a mechanic, so I can do most work myself if I want to. These days one of the contractors I deal with fixes my van for free, which is good because my MPV just ate it’s 3rd alternator in 6 years.
D in Seattle gives good advice on finding a mechanic. The only thing I can add is to check out the shop: if it’s a mess, go somewhere else. Any decent mechanic I’ve ever seen keeps a clean shop.
I come from a family of mechanics, which I am often thankful for, especially when reading crap like this.
Reporting this mornings appointment… canceled… rescheduled for Thursday at 7:30 am. I just found out I have to drive to Dallas for a meeting Thursday morning so I figured, I may as well put the 350 miles on the dealer’s loaner car 🙂
Kim in Ohio says
I was a young girl about 22, and I had just gotten new rotors and brake pads on my ’85 Dodge 600 a month before I took it in for an oil change and alignment. The shop manager had the guts to call and tell me that my rotors were worn and by law he couldn’t turn them again. I told him to put it all back together, don’t even change the oil, and I would take it back to where I got the brakes done. Not even 5 minutes later, he calls me back and feeds me a story about how he has a new tech who measured wrong. Whatever. Like I just fell off the turnip truck. I went in to pick up my car and he tried to charge me a $75 “diagnostic fee”. What a thief.
Then I took my dad’s original advice and went to his mechanic, and got an alignment and oil change for less than $100. After that, I figured that maybe my dad did know what he was talking about. (If you’re ever need any repairs in Bellefontaine, Ohio, you want to take your car to Jacob’s Auto Repair)
Bill in WV says
I told a mechanic that I thought my truck had dropped a rectal plate and he replied “well, let me put it up on the lift and see if it’s completely gone”. I laughed out loud.
I grew up in a car-guy family, my Dad raced cars, my brother, cousin and I now race cars and although I’m not a licensed mechanic my part time job throughout high school and for a few years after was in a garage, doing oil changes, tire installs and eventually rads, alternators, brakes and exhaust, etc. I even had the luck/pleasure to work with Len Bertrand of Lentech Transmission fame (you drag racers should know that name…)
The advice given here is good. Find a local owned shop through work of mouth that you can trust, look for a clean shop (Lenny was always meticulous when working on a vehicle) and keep going back…it is a great benefit to a mechanic to get to know your car and it will be less expensive in the long run.
I also sympathize with mechanics and shop owners (see expresso machine story above.) It is nearly impossible to give an accurate repair estimate when you are dealing with people who never maintain their vehicles, aren’t even capable of basic fluid checks or wiper changes and lie about it all.
deb in atlanta says
Best line EVER!
[quote]all of us would be breaded in filth, and I’d have gnats whitewater rafting down the length of my crackal region.[/quote]
Jeff, you made my day! That one’s going in my repertoire.