Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part II: The Cars Strike Back

To begin my second installment of IHtWLwC, I'm going to introduce Mah-gret:
This is pretty much her, except I can't tell if this car is silver or if it's champagne - which is just fancy people talk for tan with sparkles, so I will clarify that Mah-gret was champagne.
Via American Listed
She was the car that my parents decided to let me have after Spaz went to the junkyard, and I was thankful. It was reliable! I didn't get pulled over by cops anymore because I ran four stop signs in a row! Yay!!! She lasted me all through college, and even a year or so after that. I was fully expecting to buy the car from my parents - at a discounted rate, of course - once I became a Real Adult (TM).

Alas, that was not to be.

Renewing Mah-gret's tags was a responsibility of mine, as it should have been, seeing as my parents did not drive her any longer, and in 2008, it was about time to get the emissions checked and put a new sticker on the license plate. I had been taught early on that the best time to go to the emissions place was on, like, a Tuesday in the early middle of the month, and like a dutiful car owner, I did just that. However, everyone else had been clued in on this strategy, so there was a long-ass line on this hot-ass day. I sighed and just pulled behind the a large van that I was sure was going to fail the test.

I noticed that the radio was flickering in and out and the clock was turning on and off. I just thought it was the heat. What? I know NOTHING about how cars work. I can change my own oil and a flat tire! But don't fucking ask me about the mechanics and electronics of the damned things. It takes about thirty or so minutes, but I'm finally next in line, wondering if I should start a bet with the dude next to me in the Malibu about how quickly the van ahead of me will be told his car is a piece of shit that's ruining the environment. When it pulls out of the garage without incident, I shrug and think, "Well, I just saved myself $50."

The emissions test guy directed me into the building and then suddenly, Mah-gret stopped. Died. Everything. The engine, the radio, the brakes. I was apparently lucid enough to pull the emergency brake and looked out the window helplessly.

"So does this mean that I fail?"

He laughed sadly at me. "Yeah, miss. You do."

I popped the hood and the guy's eyes widened. My entire battery was covered in this white stuff that hadn't been there the last time I got my oil changed about a month prior. I didn't at the time know (and to be honest still don't) what was going on with my car, but it was bad. The man jumped my battery and told me I had a certain number of days to come back and retest and wished me luck on getting to my dealer, who was, oh, twenty or so minutes away. I'm not sure why he thought this was okay, but meh, I got to the dealer safely. I called my mom on the way to let her know what was up, and she wasn't too thrilled with the news.

When I got to the dealer, I was nearly pasty-white with fear from the trip. The only way to get to Nelson Mazda from where I was included getting on I-24. For those of you who aren't familiar with Nashville, I-24 is the worst interstate ever. EVER. It's always congested, wrecks are permanent fixtures, and it just sucks. I hate it. So anyway, I managed to arrive for the most part unharmed, although in my head, I had avoided nearly 35 death traps since I departed from the emissions place. The mechanic I talked to seemed certain nothing was wrong with my car, and he dusted off the white stuff and did a couple of test runs while I sat in the waiting room like someone hoping to hear if their grandmother made it out of surgery.

"Runs fine. The white stuff* was probably just causing problems, but you should be good from now on!"


Fast forward two days.

For those of you keeping track, it is now Thursday in this story. I had just eaten lunch with my mother and was headed back to the emission testy place to get everything taken care of until next year. It was nearly 15 degrees hotter than it was two days prior, and I was wearing a jersey-knit maxi dress and strappy sandals. Remember this; it's important. I was no more than two minutes away from my mom's work when the car started acting like it did before: radio fading in and out, the clock going to all zeroes, etc.

"Shit. ShitshitSHIT!"

And because I am the luckiest bitch in the world, Mah-gret stopped DEAD in the middle of the intersection. Just as the light was turning yellow.


There was really nothing that I could do except put the car in neutral, get out, and try to push my vehicle out of the way. By myself. In a dress and sandals. UP A FUCKING HILL**. WITH ASSHOLES HONKING AT ME BECAUSE I WAS IN THEIR WAY.

I can't remember how many middle fingers and frantic "fuck yous" I yelled, but I'm fairly sure I got myself a spot in the records books. Literally NO ONE has stopped to help me. I was in the Vanderbilt area, and if you can recall a post from a few days ago about some of the things I hate about Nashville, Vandy students were on there. This is partially why.  Finally, I reached the top of the hill, jumped in the front seat, and guided (with my feet because power steering had failed - yay!) Mah-gret into a parking space behind a place that sells stationery and other paper goods. Still no word if any decent human beings were in existence at that time, though.

As many of you can understand, I started yelling at the car and crying, got out and kicked the rear tire so hard that I broke my toe, and had a nervous breakdown. I was covered in sweat and the sun was just mocking me with its 95 degree heat. It was a good day. After a few minutes, I calmed down enough to pop the hood and try fruitlessly - because remember, I know nothing about cars, but when you're traumatized and burning up, you just do things you see on TV shows and movies - to figure out what was going on. It is at this point that some random guy comes up and asks, "Do you need any help?"

I nearly lost it at that very moment.

"Not NOW, asshole. Where were you five minutes ago when I was pushing this fucking thing up that hill by myself while people honked and yelled at me? Getting an iced latte and thinking how awesome it is that you have a functional car that you DON'T have to push up a hill by yourself? Do you even see what I'm wearing? DO I LOOK LIKE I NEED YOUR HELP NOW??"

Needless to say, the guy slinked away and I was left to bawl my eyes out again. I probably shouldn't have been so harsh with him, but he didn't have an ounce of sweat on his body and he did have a recently made iced latte and that just pissed me off.

I called my mom to explain the situation, and she was much cooler than she was two days prior.

"Just call a tow truck."

Which I do. The gentleman was nice enough, blowing the AC right at me the whole time, and towed my car back to the dealership. He talked about his daughter and how he was so proud of her graduating from 8th grade, and the only thing I could think was, "God, don't send her to Vandy. Ever. Then she'll be an asshole who honks at women in dresses pushing cars up hills while she's driving a Yukon or something." I kept my mouth shut, though.

When we arrived at Nelson Mazda, my mom was close behind us in her car, and she parked close to the entrance. She waited until I came up to the building and we went in together. Both of us were pissed, but I think my mother was trying to keep from killing the first employee that approached her. She calmly explained the situation, stating, "She was just here two days ago and was told that her car was fine. Then it stopped in the middle of a busy intersection. That is not okay."

My mother in her mad mode can be kind of terrifying. She has this Southern sweetness about her that only barely glazes over the anger in her voice so she kind of sounds slightly insane, like she could be in a Rob Zombie movie. The manager of the dealership apologized profusely to her, never once looking at me, the actual harmed party in all of this. She, however, had the money and the power, so I can't really blame him.

Then the funny part.

"Oh, the tow man needs $80," said one of the dealership's employees to my mother.

Mom just glared at him. "Then pay him."

"Well, ma'am, you did call for his services."

"Let me speak to a manager, please."

It only took a few minutes but once my mother was done with the manager, the dealership paid the tow fee and the manager ran away with his tail between his legs. My mother, at that time, said, "We're never buying anything here again.***"

Moral of the story: Do not piss off my mother.

* He called it something else but I can't remember what that word was. I could look it up, but I'm lazy.
** It was a little hill, but when you're pushing a damned vehicle by yourself, anything that isn't a decline is a task.
*** My mom is a loyal customer. She'd had three Mazdas prior to Mah-gret, all but one of them purchased at this particular dealership. But once she says she's boycotting for whatever reason? It's done. She hasn't shopped at a Sears since ... oh, the mid-90s because the credit card she had with them pissed her off.
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