Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sweet Death, Embrace Me... (Or "How I Learned To Start Worrying And Fear Anthropomorphism")

I've had it. I've absolutely had it. Two of the most important components of life have decided that they hate me, so what chance do I stand?

One day I'll go into more detail over why all computers from my Commodore Vic 20 to any PC I put my grubby mitts on has a vendetta against The Spikester, suffice it to say that my death will probably be caused by one of two things; either I'll die as a result of a massive heart attack caused by the stress of dealing with my home computer or a piece of flying motherboard will impale me as I smash the living crap out of it for giving me one last defiant bluescreen. But as I say, that's a story for another day. So what else hates me, I hear you politely enquire? Cars. Bloody cars hate me.

Not *all* cars - that would be silly. Just the ones I own. So here is a brief automobillic ownership history and the problems I had with them. I never learned to drive in Scotland. Quite frankly, I never needed to. If the whim struck, I could get to work, friends' houses or the shops via a perfectly adequate public transportation system. However, when I came here and saw the sort of people who use Charleston's perfectly inadequate public transportation system, I figured I had better learn how to corrall a set of wheels pretty quick-bloody-smart, lest I be forced share my highly saught-after personal space with, literally, the great unwashed of the capitol city. So Mrs Spike taught me the basics and after just one failed test (oops, I pulled on to the wrong side of the road... how could THAT be unsafe?) I gots me my license and took over Mrs Spike's 1989 dog-poop brown Ford Taurus while she drove our new blue Ford Focus. Right from the get-go, I knew that the AC didn't work on the car I had inherited - which would soon be dubbed "The Arkansas Chugabug" (if you have to ask, you probably don't want to know) - but the cool spring air that came through the open windows was refreshing, so I figured I would deal with any AC problems come summer, totally unaware as a pasty-white Scotsman whose idea of a hot temperature was somewhere in the upper 70s that West Virginia summers are hot, hazy and humid and opening windows in a car just lets more *hot* air in, even at interstate speeds.

So already this vehicle was old enough to be out on its own but it was still alive and moving, albeit barely and without any AC. Then, things started to happen. I was reliably informed that the AC couldn't be simply recharged as the age of the car put it before any CFC restrictions were in place, so the stuff it needed to blow cold also blew a sizeable hole in the ozone layer. A new AC system would have to be put in, roughly costing an amount comparable to the national debt of Brazil. Not long after this devastating news, the powered steering started complaining and gave out not too long afterwards. Several fluid top-ups indicated in a very short amount of time that there was a leak - that got fixed. Then the radiator started overheating. That got fixed, broke again, got fixed again, broke again and then got fixed again. Then something else happened that made it not start. Twice. On two different occasions. Apparently it was battery corrosion both times.

So one day, about a year or so ago, Mrs Spike and I got an apparently unbeatable offer on a Dodge Caravan. It was an ex-rental vehicle, several thousand dollars below blue book price and in tip-top condition. Did it sound like I knew what the hell I was talking about there? I'm nothing but a parrot, this is what's been told to me. I know nothing about cars. Nuth-thing. Anyhoo, the AC on the van seemed awfully warm on the test drive, so we asked them to look at it before we bought it. They agreed, recharged the AC and sold it to us with another apparently unbeatable offer of a several year, several thousand mile warranty. Huzzah for us, you may think. Car problems are over, you may think. Talking like Yoda, you may think. Correct, you may be.

So long story short, The End.

Long story slightly less short, here's what's gone wrong with the van since we bought it, less than 2 years ago: another AC recharge, AC condenser replacement (not covered under the warranty, quelle sur-bloody-prise), AC recharge again, break pads and shoes, AC condenser and condenser clutch replacement (didn't even bother checking the warranty this time) and now, this weekend, AC AGAIN and some unidentified grinding noise which gets louder and louder the more I drive it. Grrreat. If it gets to the garage without grinding to a hault and stranding me in the middle of nowhere, it will be a bloody miracle. It sounds that bad.

So there you go. Cars hate me. It's that or someone's trying to tell me that I need to lose weight and sitting in a hot car for a third of my life is the way to sweat it off - either way I'm thinking that I'm doomed to spend the rest of my natural life with windows open and sweat in my arse-crack. But hey, when I *do* die, my flesh will probably be eatable having been slow-cooked for the past 6 years.


Peregrinus said...

'Taint that cars hate you
Ya Pictish curmudgeon,
But mechanics LOVE you,
And work up yer dudgeon.

Get a motorcycle,
Learn to spin a wrench.
Six months with a bike'll
Make breakdowns your wench.

Bike maintain is easy,
And problems more rare.
So break out of the chassis,
And get you some air!


Spike Nesmith said...

so thanks for your comment
oh bikers one, two!
it's so very nice
to be hearing from you

for me bikes are scary
and, i'm sad to say,
"please give me an airbag
and rollcage anyday!"

and whilst I admire
what bikes have to give,
if i'm going to crash
i'd quite like to live!

oncee said...


This information is very useful to me. I've spend hours a few days ago looking online at cars at a local car rental company, all for sale much below the bluebook price. Sounds like you got a raw deal.

Hope you get the car issues sorted soon.