Monday, September 07, 2009

Doc's Big Day Out

The big day finally arrived last Thursday. I got out of the apartment for more than half a day at a time. This day had been awaited with much anticipation and no small amount of trepidation for over three months. It had been carefully prepared for by getting my grocery shopping done earlier in the week and a careful cost estimation such that I should not exceed my budget too badly.

The day was so special that I even luxuriated in a full bath, rather than the shower which I almost always take. This unnerved Bittle and Stinky. They are used to hearing water spraying for a few moments and then staying out of my way while I try to dry myself, remain upright, and see without my glasses all at the same time. On this occasion, however, I simply submerged and temporarily disappeared. When I again surfaced, there were four concerned eyes looking over the edge of the tub, presumably relieved that I had reappeared and the cat food supply would would not be interrupted. They did continue to circle the general area, however, until I resumed what they considered normal behavior; cursing while shaving the area of my neck under my beard.

I donned my best pair of Levi's, a tattersall shirt, my Frye high top boots and then began the pre-flight checklist. Wallet? Check. Belt? Check. Pants zipped? Check. Teeth? (Yes, I have forgotten them.) Check. Cell phone? Check. Car keys? Check. Reassure The Boys that I'll be back? Check. Ready for launch. Out the door and off I go to arrive at my destination at the prearranged time. What on earth would prompt such actions and preparation by Doc, you may ask. I had to get my front brakes fixed. The wear indicators had been making an increasing, intermittent scraping noise which intensified with wheel speed and of which I did not approve.

Not so interesting, huh? Well, it interested me! I had never owned a front wheel drive vehicle before this Cavalier and had little idea how costly a noise this might prove to be. At the repair check-in desk I described the symptoms, complete with hand waving, pointing, and sound effects. The repair manager seemed unimpressed. I further explained the nature of the noise and how I thought I probably had a bent brake rotor or broken caliper assembly. He said, "Uh huh. Do you want anything else checked"? The check engine light is on. "OK. We'll take care of it. Are you going to wait for it?" Yeah, unless it's going to be here over the weekend. An altogether too blasé attitude as far as I was concerned.

I went to set up a semi-permanent encampment in the waiting area. I had brought a large Pepsi and a software manual to fill the tedious hours. I may be a slow reader, but I was quite surprised when the proposed repairs and estimated costs were brought for my approval by page 18. I maintained my usual level of suspiciousness, but after reading the materials, readily agreed to the proposal. I signed, he left, and I went back to reading. By the time I got to page 37, he was back with the final bill. The problems had been repaired and the car had been test driven. What can I say? There were several screenshots I had to study in detail and I was distracted rather badly by the back two feet of a beautiful new yellow Corvette which I could see from my seat. I had staunchly resisted the temptation to wander into the showroom and drool on it.

An amazing experience then occurred. Replacement of the rotors (which were delaminating), pads, a repair of the throttle body, and the replacement of an inline fuel filter and gas cap had been been accomplished for a little over 1/3 the amount I had prepared myself for in advance. Even though my questions about senior discounts or any from various auto club and other organizations were to no avail, I remained a happy ex-camper as I escaped the waiting room. As I accessed the roadway and immediately exceeded the speed suggestions repeatedly as I tested the brakes, I remained very pleased. No screeching noises were heard, no check engine light seen, and from what I could tell, throttle performance was improved. I was so overcome with delight that I went on a spontaneous shopping spree at a local surplus store where I bought eight unique paper clips, 20 button batteries, and a cheap one-meter measuring tape. There was no stopping me.

When I returned to the apartment complex, checked my mail, and entered my dwelling, I was greeted enthusiastically by Bittle and Stinky. They looked at each other in a "He's back" sort of way.

Peace, Doc

Copyright © 2009, Thomas A. Blood, Ph.D.

"Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz," ~ Janis Joplin.

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