October 31, 2006


Sometime in the past 20 years Halloween died and I didn't notice. Tonight we had one group of trick-or-treaters. When I was a young ghoul the streets were swarming with kids on the prowl for candy. People turned their garages into haunted houses and carved jack-o-lanterns. But in today's my-neighbor-might-try-to-kill-me culture this is a thing of the past. It just makes me sad.

Posted by thom at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2006

Smog Issues

It's that time of year again: I must re-register my car. This year however I need to get a smog test so off I go to a official smog test center. Sixty dollars later the fellow tells me the car doesn't pass so no smog certificate for me. This saves me the $9 I would have been charged for the certificate but also means I have to spend even more money (and time) getting the car fixed. I ask him what I need to do now and he shrugs. I assume it means, "Go fix your car."

The next day I take it to my local Pep Boys AutoCenter and as I'm walking in I see a sign that says Official Smog Tes & Repair Center. I'm in luck. I go inside and explain the problem to the Pep Boys guy. He nods and says, "Sounds like your catalytic converter." Then he adds, "We don't fix those." I ask him what they can do and he tells me they'd have to re-administer the test for $45 and then troubleshoot the problem for another $144.

I ponder what he just told me. "Let me see if I got this right. You want to charge me $45 to administer a test I already know the car will fail, then you want to charge me another $150 to troubleshoot a problem you probably can't fix?" He thinks for a moment. "Um, yeah." I thank him and leave.

Monday morning I go to another place recommended by the Auto Club and drop my car off. It'll cost $80 just for them to look at the car so they can tell me what is wrong. I get a call before noon and they tell me the spark plugs were fouled and that a tune-up will probably fix my problem. Only $261. I tell them to go ahead. I get a call a few hours later and I'm told a new problem has been discovered. Some exhaust recirculation value sensor thingy. They cost about $500 so now we're talking almost $900 to fix the car.

I go back to the Auto Club and ask them what I need to do. They give me a state number to call and I pay my $90 registration so my car is semi-legal in the meantime. I call the state and after a remarkably short time on hold I get a nice lady who explains that there is a program where the state will pay up to $500 for repairs and I have to cover the first $100. I tell her I've already spent $261 and I find out that won't be covered because I have to take it to a state faculty to have the repairs done. She asks, "Didn't the man at the test center tell you this?" I explained to her that all I got was an enigmatic shrug. She apologized and promised to send me the form I need to fill out to get this done.

So, as they say, there it is.

Posted by thom at 01:05 AM | Comments (0)