Tag Archives: cars

Manly Soap Opera

When I was a young teen, I was a huge WWF wrestling fan.  Every Saturday I was glued to the TV, my heart in my mouth while I watched my favourite wrestlers in the ring.  I cheered their miraculous rebounds from complete unconsciousness to inexplicable but triumphant victory, and booed the bad guys (usually the less-handsome guys in black) who ambushed my heroes from behind.

Then, about the time I got old enough to take up a few contact sports of my own and simultaneously developed a bit of critical thinking, I realized… WWF (or WWE, as it’s now known) wrestling ain’t exactly what you see on the screen.  Those wrestlers are great athletes; but even the WWE admits that the drama is pure scripted soap opera.

So I swallowed my disillusionment and life went on.

I hadn’t thought of WWF wrestling in decades, but it all came back to me a few weeks ago when Hubby was watching a Formula One Grand Prix.  For those not familiar with (or who couldn’t care less about) Formula One racing, rules stringently control the action on the track as well as the specifications of the cars themselves.

So theoretically, the race is all about the skill of the driver and pit crew; but in fact the owner, team chiefs, and managers hand down directives and dictate the team’s and the individual driver’s strategies during a race.

Let the soap opera begin.

Enter Lewis Hamilton, a handsome (good looks are important) British driver who is currently considered “one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport”.

But…

Lewis Hamilton is dogged by luck so bad it would bring any normal man to his knees.  His teammates get advantages he’s denied.  His car suffers bizarre mechanical failures.  The management team subjects him to incomprehensible strategic decisions.  I can hear Hubby raving in his mancave:  “Why would you do that?!?  EVERYBODY knows you don’t (fill in management decision here)!”

But poor Lewis just keeps taking the karmic hits, and then miraculously winning by the skin of his teeth.  Or fighting his way back from last place and almost winning, which only increases the drama.

And I said to Hubby, “You realize this is WWF wrestling, don’t you?”

He stared at me open-mouthed.

“It is,” I insisted.  “The handsome, talented guy keeps getting ambushed by some dirty rat, but even though he’s just been hit over the head with a chair and left for dead, he somehow manages to drag himself back into the ring and win.”

I realize that it’s blasphemous for me to even suggest such a thing; but I’m just sayin’… the plot lines are remarkably similar.

Who says men don’t watch soap operas?

 

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Filed under Humour, Life

Carmageddon Is Coming

I’ve mentioned on several occasions how much I hate renting cars, so you can imagine how pleased I was (not!) to belly up to the rental car counter again last weekend.

My life seems to flip-flop between Murphyesque fiascos and windfalls of ridiculously good luck; so I fully expected our car-rental experience to be either excellent or excrable, with no chance of middle ground.

My heart sank at the first words out of the agent’s mouth:  “We don’t have the full-size sedan you booked…”

I braced myself for the inevitable shit landslide.

But no; the agent went on to say that they’d give us a free upgrade to an SUV or mini-van instead.

“No mini-vans,” I said.

“You can go and look at the vehicles and choose the one you want,” he replied.  “Just check with the agent on the lot.”

So we did.  The lot agent confirmed that they had a Kia Sportage or a mini-van available.

“No mini-vans,” I said.

“Let’s just go and have a look,” he said.

The shiny red Sportage was brand new with a leather interior and only 78 kilometres on the odometer.  The driver’s seat was comfortable.  Perfect.

“Let’s look at the mini-van now,” the agent encouraged.

“No mini-vans,” I said.

“It’s fully loaded.  Let’s just go and look at it,” he cajoled.  “You’ll love it.”

“No mini-vans,” I muttered.  But he wouldn’t give up, so I followed him around the corner.

He hadn’t lied; the mini-van was loaded.  Leather interior, remote start, power everything… and approximately the size of the RMS Titanic.

I did not love it.

“NO… MINI-VANS!” I repeated loudly and firmly.

The agent gave me an incredulous look.  Because seriously, who in their right mind would want to zip along in a sporty red SUV when they could be wallowing down the highway in a land yacht designed to accommodate seven full-grown adults along with enough luggage to outfit an entire expeditionary force?

But at last the agent reluctantly handed over the keys for the Sportage.  And life was good.

Until…

We were at my niece’s wedding reception when my brother-in-law’s phone pinged.  “Uh-oh,” he said, and showed us the screen.  There was a severe weather warning:  Lightning, thunder, torrential rain, hail, tornadoes, and a 60% chance of the biblical apocalypse.

Our shiny new rental car quivered under the darkening sky.   I quivered, too.  We had insured the Sportage under our regular auto policy, and I really didn’t want to make a claim for total vehicular annihilation.

The sky turned as black as night and the heavens split open.  The wind howled.  The power failed.  When the rain wasn’t blowing completely sideways, it bucketed down so hard it bounced a foot up off the asphalt when it hit.

But not a single hailstone fell on the shiny new Sportage.

I found out later what a ridiculous stroke of good fortune that had been.  A giant hay barn collapsed near Tilley; two semis blew off the TransCanada highway near Brooks; the entire city of Medicine Hat was without power for a couple of hours; loonie-sized hail pounded northeast Calgary; and tornadoes touched down outside of Edmonton.

But we were fine.

Which was wonderful; but I shudder to think what Murphy is saving up for the next time I rent a car.  It’ll be Carmageddon for sure.

Maybe I’ll just stay home for the rest of my life…

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Riding The Blue Unicorn

For the past few days I’ve been riding the Blue Unicorn.  No, that isn’t a kinky sex act (though it sounds like it should be); nor have I been eating funny mushrooms.  I promise it’s safe to read on!

So… after an incredibly frustrating week of test-driving used cars, I decided on the Ford Escape, a common vehicle with lots of used ones available.  Great.

Or so I thought.

Nope.  There were lots of them available; but they’d all been driven into the ground even though their prices were still sky-high.  By the end of the week I was so sick of the whole used-car fiasco that I gave up and called the dealership to buy a new one.

I told the salesman the bizarre mix of features I wanted, and there was a brief silence on the line.  Then he said, “So basically, you’re looking for a unicorn.”

“Yep.”

“Let me see what I can do.”

Ten minutes later he phones me back in triumph:  “I found your unicorn!”

And sure enough, he had.  Better yet, it was blue!  That delighted me, since I had been cynically certain it would turn out to be white like all my other vehicles.

So I dubbed it The Blue Unicorn, and it’s proudly residing in our driveway.  I haven’t had it long enough to determine its personality yet, but you can usually match a vehicle’s face to its attitude.

Or maybe I’m just foolishly anthropomorphizing.  (Okay, so that’s not a ‘maybe’.)

Still, don’t these car-faces speak to you?

Ford Mustang – “Get outta my way, punk!” (It even looks like it’s clenching a cigar in its teeth!)

Ford Mustang – “Get outta my way, punk!” (It even looks like it’s clenching a cigar in its teeth!)

 

Chevy Spark EV – “Hi, hi, hi! I’m so excited to meet you!”

Chevy Spark EV – “Hi, hi, hi! I’m so excited to meet you!”

 

Chevy Sonic – “Dude! Wanna watch me stuff an entire Big Mac in my mouth?”

Chevy Sonic – “Dude! Wanna watch me stuff an entire Big Mac in my mouth?”

 

Chevy Malibu – “Hey, babe, come back to my place and I’ll show you my etchings.”

Chevy Malibu – “Hey, babe, come back to my place and I’ll show you my etchings.”

 

Mazda 5 GS – “Whee! Happy-happy-happy day!”

Mazda 5 GS – “Whee! Happy-happy-happy day!”

 

Mazda CX9 – “Okay, now you’re beginning to irritate me…”

Mazda CX9 – “Okay, now you’re beginning to irritate me…”

 

Acura NSX – *chuckles evilly*

Acura NSX – *chuckles evilly*

 

Nissan Juke – “Dimples and buck-teeth – I’m Howdy Doody!”

Nissan Juke – “Dimples and buck-teeth – I’m Howdy Doody!”

 

Audi A4 – *groans* “Why is it so bright in here? How much did I drink last night?”

Audi A4 – *groans* “Why is it so bright in here? How much did I drink last night?”

 

Bentley Mulsanne – “Goodness gracious, how inconvenient. I seem to have misplaced my spectacles.”

Bentley Mulsanne – “Goodness gracious, how inconvenient. I seem to have misplaced my spectacles.”

 

Jaguar XF – “You just got on my very… last… nerve…”

Jaguar XF – “You just got on my very… last… nerve…”

 

Jeep Renegade – “Aw, man! That totally sucks.”

Jeep Renegade – “Aw, man! That totally sucks.”

 

Jeep Patriot – “Wh… What do you mean, ‘there is no Santa Claus’?”

Jeep Patriot – “Wh… What do you mean, ‘there is no Santa Claus’?”

 

Toyota Yaris – “Luke… I… am… your… father…”

Toyota Yaris – “Luke… I… am… your… father…”

 

Mitsubishi i-MiEV – “Look, I’m the cutest manga character ever!”

Mitsubishi i-MiEV – “Look, I’m the cutest manga character ever!”

 

The Blue Unicorn’s face – Not sure yet…

The Blue Unicorn’s face – Not sure yet…

I think the Blue Unicorn looks cheerful, but there’s a definite undertone of “Don’t mess with me”.  Or maybe I’m just projecting.

What do these car-faces say to you?

* * *

And speaking of subliminal messages… there’s a new discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Have you found the secret message on the Never Say Spy covers?  Click here to have your say!

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Filed under Humour, Life

Highway Thru Hell

Hubby and I are on the road again in the first part of our adventure in moving to the west coast.  It’s been, um… eventful.  (And I’m writing this very late on Tuesday night, so please forgive any mistakes.)

Our property purchase closes this week, so we decided to come and spend some time wandering our new place and deciding where the house will go.  And some brilliant person who shall remain nameless… (Hint: She has long red hair) …said, “Hey, this is a perfect opportunity to put my ’53 Chevy on the car-hauler trailer and pull it out to the Island before the roads get bad in winter!”

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So we loaded the Chevy onto the car hauler and packed the truck with the oddments the moving companies wouldn’t take (including our giant houseplants) and set out to drive the whole shebang over multiple mountain passes to the coast, where we’d catch the ferry to Vancouver Island.

Easy-peasy, right?

Naively, we considered:  Should we drive it in one day, or break it into two?  Well, let’s break it into two, just to be on the safe side.

Uh-huh.

We immediately discovered, much to our chagrin, that our car-hauler is an old long-necked U-Haul type for which stabilizer bars were never made.  If we exceeded 90 km/hr (55 mph), it developed an oscillation that required an instant slow-down or it threatened to fling us off the road.

Okay, fine.  Two days.  Not exceeding 90 km/hr.  We could do this.

The first day it took us 9 hours to get to Kamloops.  The second day it took us 15 hours to get from Kamloops to Qualicum Bay where we’re staying.  It’s supposed to be a 13-hour trip in total from Calgary.

I took the first shift as driver.  Let me just say, navigating an unstable 41-foot truck-and-trailer down hairpin curves on an 8% grade is not something I’d care to do on a regular basis.  (Read NEVER AGAIN.)  Particularly with a 5-foot-tall flowering hibiscus tickling the back of my neck.

After the first 3½ hours (at Golden, BC), Hubby took his turn.  Of course, the road immediately became wider and flatter, and the next day even the infamous Coquihalla Highway (the location of the reality show Highway Thru Hell) only offered a few short stretches of 8.5% downgrade on nice wide sweeping turns.  But it didn’t matter – by that time we were so anxious about the possibility of more hairpin turns and steep grades that we were both vibrating by the time we made it to flat ground at Hope, BC.

Then we thought we’d make the 3:10 ferry over to Vancouver Island.

And we would have, except for the traffic accident that kept us parked on the TransCanada Highway for 30 minutes… allowing THE ENTIRE MIDWAY CREW OF THE PACIFIC NATIONAL EXHIBITION to get in front of us.  Which used up all the deck space not only on the 3:10 ferry, but also on the 5:20 ferry.  We finally got aboard the 7:30 ferry, which, after loading, unloading, and some more driving, got us to our destination around 11 PM.

Gee, maybe next time we’ll try to do it in one day.  Ya think?

But we’re finally safe and sound on the Island and looking forward to our bed tonight.  Thank God we’re flying back instead of driving.

And at least I got some pretty pictures:

 

A train tunnel near Salmon Arm, BC, from our truck window

A train tunnel near Salmon Arm, BC, from our truck window

Mara Lake

Mara Lake

Coming up on the Port Mann Bridge, Vancouver BC

Coming up on the Port Mann Bridge, Vancouver BC

On the Port Mann Bridge

On the Port Mann Bridge

The 5:20 ferry leaving... without us

The 5:20 ferry leaving… without us

On the ferry at last!

On the ferry at last!

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Self-Driving Auto-Paranoia

A couple of days ago I discovered an article about how and when a self-driving car should be programmed to injure or kill its passengers.  It’s an alarming proposition, but it’s actually a valid point:  if the car has to choose between wiping out ten pedestrians or only its driver, simple logic says it should choose the lesser number of casualties.

But the realization that my future vehicle may be plotting to kill me makes me just a wee bit mistrustful of technology.

Or, in my case, more mistrustful of technology.  I’ve never been good at leaving my safety in the hands (circuits?) of inanimate objects.  (Or even animate objects, for that matter.  I’m a lousy passenger even with a human driver – I spend as much time watching the road as the driver does.  But that’s another story.)

My point is, I’m suspicious of any electronic device that wants to make decisions for me.

Take my GPS, for instance.  The lady inside my GPS can usually get me where I want to go, but she’s not always good at it.  When we’re in unfamiliar territory, Hubby usually drives while I navigate.  Theoretically the GPS should be all we need, but I never go anywhere without a paper map; partly because my GPS has a tendency to announce “Low battery!” and/or lose its satellite connection at critical moments, but mostly because I don’t trust it to choose the best route.

I can set it to ‘faster time’ (which is usually dog-slow) or ‘shortest distance’ (synonymous for ‘via goat-paths and dodgy neighbourhoods’), but there’s no setting for ‘common sense’.  So, after a few forays through dense forest on steep roads no wider than our car (though, as the GPS insisted, that road was technically ‘paved’) our trips have become a power struggle between the GPS and me.

The GPS lady says, “In… two hundred metres… turn left.”

And I say, “Ignore that.  It doesn’t know what it’s doing.  Keep going straight.”

Hubby, like all husbands with a modicum of self-preservation, silently follows my directions while the GPS says in snotty tones, “Recalculating.  In… one hundred metres… make a U-turn.”

Me:  “Ignore that.  Keep going.”

GPS (getting cranky):  “Recalculating.  In… three kilometres… TURN LEFT, IDIOT!”

Me:  “Ignore that…”

Given the choice, I’d rather have an up-to-date paper map and only use the GPS to pinpoint the location of the nearest Dairy Queen.  (And don’t get me wrong; that’s a critical function.  I need frequent ice cream breaks when I’m on the road.)

But antagonizing my GPS is probably a bad idea, because the new cars will have them built in.  And if a hostile GPS triggers the ‘kill-the-driver’ algorithm, I could be in serious trouble.

On the surface, the self-driving car seems utopian:  I could be snoozing or reading or snacking while my car takes me safely and efficiently to my destination.  But in reality I’d probably end up sitting in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel, simultaneously watching the road and keeping a wary eye on the car in case it tries to kill me.

But maybe I’m just paranoid.

Or maybe that’s not a ‘maybe’…

* * *

And speaking of technology… there’s a new discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Aydan’s Tech Gadgets – Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em?  Click here to have your say!

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Filed under Commentary, Humour, Life

Automotive Heaven Can Wait

Last week I was in automotive heaven… and it turned out to be more of a pain in the butt than I’d anticipated.

Rick and Sandy (of Hand Crafted Images) and I were doing the photographs for Book 2’s updated cover.  Car buffs may recall that Aydan drooled over an Audi R8 in THE SPY IS CAST, and wonder of wonders, I got up-close-and-personal with a real R8 this week thanks to the generosity of Doug S. and the staff at Glenmore Audi.

As with most undertakings that involve me, there was inappropriate laughter.

The dealership is a pristine building featuring bright white ceilings and sleek grey floors.  Other cars were scattered throughout the showroom, but two Quattros crouched protectively beside the R8, their feral headlight configurations watching us like predatory beasts.

Yes, I was slightly intimidated.

At first we trod reverently around the R8, not approaching it too closely so our heated and unsteady breathing wouldn’t fog its gleaming paint.

We were completely freaked out at the thought of being close enough to damage an automobile that costs more than twice what I paid for my first house.  We checked and re-checked the tripods that held the backdrop, cringing at visions of the metal poles toppling onto the car.

At last we had the backdrops in place and the moment of truth arrived:  It was time to unlock the car.

Then I would strip down to my ignominious outfit of stiletto heels and gym shorts (because I didn’t want to wear a skirt and accidentally emulate the Basic Instinct leg-crossing scene) and… yes… I would actually sit in the driver’s seat.

That’s where the giggles started.  In the first place, a woman wearing makeup, gym shorts, and stiletto heels just looks ridiculous.

Also, this woman wearing stiletto heels looks slightly ridiculous anyway.  The R8 tops out at four feet.  In heels, I’m 6’-2”.  I towered over the car (and everybody else in the dealership).

The next issue was that the stilettos give me a 38” inseam.  Try stuffing those long legs into a car while holding your breath in case a lethal heel scratches something that costs more than your entire car.  But I managed.

In short order, the next issue surfaced.  The R8’s seats are set in quite far from the exterior body panels.  If I sat in the driver’s seat, my legs barely made it out of the car.  To get the shot we wanted, I’d have to perch on the rocker panel.

For the record, the R8’s rocker panels are not designed to comfortably accommodate a human ass.  (Nor a human posterior, for that matter.)

It got worse.  On the original cover, the model’s lips are parted.  It looks as though she’s pronouncing the letter ‘D’, and it’s supposed to look pouty or sensuous or something.

My pout looked more like ‘Duh’.  I stared vacantly into space, slack-lipped and clutching a cardboard cutout of a Glock.  I only managed a few minutes of that before dissolving into helpless laughter.  Thank you, Sandy and Rick, for your infinite patience!

But at last we packed up the equipment and vacated the premises with relief, leaving the fabulous car unscathed.  (Which was more than I could say for my aching ass.)

It was only afterward I realized that my butt was the only part of me that ever touched the car.  I never even put my hands on the steering wheel.

I guess I’m just not cut out for automotive heaven.

* * *

P.S.  Unedited proofs are always good for a chuckle.  Note my alter-ego in the reflection beside me:

My inner werewolf sneaks out when I least expect it…

My inner werewolf sneaks out when I least expect it…

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Murphy Strikes Again

I forgot to schedule this to post automatically in the morning, but I think there’s still time for a Sunday funny.

We just spent the entire weekend harvesting the garden, and my car came back groaning under 700 lbs of potatoes, onions, carrots, pumpkins, and assorted other goodies. I was afraid this cartoon might turn out to be a little too true, but my car made it.  Guess I was safe because I haven’t won the lottery.

luck

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I’ll Tell You What’s Normal…

I spend my days skating on the edge of normalcy.  So far I’ve been able to avoid unwelcome attention, but that’s due more to good luck than good management.  I can get away with my quirks as long as I live in a nice neighbourhood and shower frequently, but put me on a park bench after a hard workout, and somebody’s gonna call the loony-catchers.

This was brought home to me the other day when Hubby was driving and I was sitting in the passenger seat writing dialogue in my head as usual.  He glanced over and said, “Writing again, aren’t you?”

I shook myself back to reality and asked, “How did you know?”

“Easy.  You had that thousand-yard stare.”

I have what I prefer to call an “expressive” face.  What this really means is that there’s a near-one-hundred-percent probability that if someone snaps a picture, I’ll look moronic.  Sometimes when I’m absorbed in planning or writing a particularly intense scene, I can feel my face twisting into expressions of fear, anger, or whatever.

Add that to the fact that I almost never know the date and often take two tries to correctly identify the day of the week, and I’m concerned that if I ever get hospitalized and asked orientation questions, they’ll lock me up permanently.

So in the interests of retaining my freedom, I decided it might be smart to write a short primer on what constitutes normal behaviour for me.  At least it’ll provide a basis for the authorities to shrug and say, “Yeah, she’s always been like that.  We probably don’t need to lock her up yet.”

So here goes:

  • It is normal for me not to know the day/date.  If I’m travelling, I may not always get the city/province right on the first try, either.
  • It is normal for me to lapse into an apparently catatonic state during which my eye movements mimic REM sleep and my face assumes various inappropriate expressions.  It’s also normal for me to be irritated when summarily roused from this state.
  • It is normal for me to suddenly and inexplicably groan, slap my forehead, and rush to my office to type madly for minutes or hours. This may happen at any time of the day or night, and includes bolting upright out of an apparently sound sleep and scurrying away to type in the wee hours.

With hallmarks like these, it may be difficult to determine what is abnormal behaviour for me, so here’s a handy list of danger signs.

I need professional help if:

  • I turn down the opportunity to go to a nice restaurant or a blues jam or a drag race.
  • I fail to fondle fabric when walking through a fabric store.
  • There’s a garden available and I don’t plant something.
  • I take my car in for an oil change instead of doing it myself.
  • I don’t bake when it’s cloudy/raining/snowing… unless I’m reading or writing (those activities trump baking).
  • I pass up an opportunity to shoot a handgun, rifle, shotgun, bow, slingshot, or any other projectile weapon.
  • I walk past an unassembled jigsaw puzzle.
  • I don’t dissolve into a revolting pile of sappy mush at the sight of kittens.
  • I spill beer.  That’s a danger sign in itself, but if I don’t show extreme remorse afterward, it’s already too late – I’m beyond help.

What are your danger signs?

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Filed under Humour, Writing

I’m Losing It…

*F-BOMB ALERT* – CONTAINS (more) COARSE LANGUAGE (than usual)

Motorcycle season is still a few months away, but I think it might be time to get out my boots and leathers anyway.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been referred to as “dear”, “little”, and “girl”.  I’m in serious danger of losing my badass self-image.

Note I said “self-image”.  In reality, I’m probably more good-ass than badass, but I’m a loyal and happy resident of the state of delusion.  I like it here.  I’m staying as long as I can.

My image crisis started in a restaurant in Parksville, BC.  The ten-year-old (okay, fine, maybe she was eighteen) waitress called me “dear”.  Repeatedly.  Just like the group of sweet little old ladies beside me.  Granted, I don’t know if they actually were sweet.  I couldn’t overhear their conversation, so maybe they were swearing like sailors and swapping stories of their latest sexual conquests.  I kinda hope so.

But the point is, she called me “dear”.

And just like Rodney Dangerfield, I don’t get no respect.  Later at the airport baggage carousel, I was waiting for my luggage when a guy pushed past and stood right in front of me.

Hey, buddy, am I fucking invisible?

I wistfully contemplated giving him a nice solid elbow strike to the back of the head, but I had a feeling my apparent invisibility wouldn’t fool the security cameras.

Then “little” and “girl” got thrown at me at the gym.  At 5’10” and 48 years old, neither of those words have applied to me for a very long time.  I’m willing to concede that “little” might have been a comparative term since it was used by my muay thai instructor, who’s over six feet of muscle.  It wasn’t like I was going to argue with him.

But then I was waiting behind a couple of guys at the security gate to the change rooms, and one turned to the other and said, “Let the girl go first.”

I glanced around just to be sure, but I was the only female in the vicinity.  What the hell was that?  “The girl”?  Reminded me of the “good” old days, when the boss used to say, “I’ll have my girl do it.”

Just to be clear, I’m not necessarily offended by being called a girl.  In fact, one of my most treasured compliments was one I overheard a couple of years ago when I was at a show & shine (outdoor classic car show, for those who aren’t car nuts).  I was checking out a 1970 Challenger with the 426 big-block when I overheard a guy behind me:  “There’s a girl over by the car that just makes you wanna…”  His more politically correct companion interrupted with the words, “…go over and say hello.”

I checked surreptitiously, but again, I was the only female in the vicinity.  At 46, I took it as a high compliment, cheerfully ignoring the possibility that I might have misinterpreted his sentence structure and it was actually the car that made him wanna.  Hey, I don’t judge.  There were lots of cars there that made me wanna.

But I digress.  My point is, short of starting to spew f-bombs publicly (and as I mentioned before, I’m too Canadian to do that), I need to find a way to polish up my badass image.

Wonder if the gym’s dress code allows boots and leathers?

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A Redhead Walks Into A Tranny Shop…

I hope that’s not the start of a joke.

Do you ever begin your day knowing exactly which tasks you’re going to do, but refusing to plan your day in a logical order?

If you do, please tell me how that works.  Do you write the name of each task on a slip of paper and shake them up in a jar to make sure your selection of the next task is completely random?  Do you choose the order based on the colour of the slip of paper?

“Oooo, that’s a pretty pink.  I think I’ll do the pink one next…”

No, really, I want to know.  Because I can’t figure out how this transmission-repair place does it.

I called a week in advance to make an appointment, and I only want a diagnostic.  It’s not like I’ve arrived out of the blue with a dead tranny.  But the best they can do is, “Drop it off between 8 and 9 in the morning, and it’ll be done sometime later today.  Probably this afternoon.”

I bet these guys wouldn’t put up with that from their doctor.  I bet they expect an appointment time, and I bet they get irate if the doctor makes them wait.  I’d love to see their faces if they showed up for their appointment and the receptionist told them, “Just take a seat.  The doctor will see you sometime today.  Maybe earlier, maybe later, so be ready to spend the day just in case.  Do you feel lucky?  Well, do ya, punk?”

Since inefficiency and illogic drive me crazy, this system is threatening to make my brain explode.  I have no control over the outcome, so I’ve decided to see if I can influence the process.

I plan to sit in their waiting room, about six feet in front of the guy behind the desk.  He’s already tried to get me to leave a couple of times – even offered me a ride down to the mall.  But I politely declined, and now I’m sitting here working on my laptop.  I made it clear I plan to wait for as long as it takes.  Right here.  Watching him.

I’m hoping he’ll get tired of the sight of me and bump my car up the random order just to get rid of me.  But that’s probably too optimistic.

Instead, I’ll likely spend the day sitting here sending psychic “hurry up” messages that bounce off the impervious skulls of everyone in the place, and the only things I’ll accomplish will be some productive work and a really sore ass.  These waiting-room chairs are butt-breakers.

But I have hope.

Their bathroom is clean.  Spotless, in fact.  That’s gotta be a good sign.  And the smell of automotive fluids and the sound of air tools always soothes my soul, so I’m in a happy place (except for the chair).

Positive mental attitude.  Maybe it’ll work.

I’ve only been here for half an hour.

My ass hurts.

***

Epilogue

It worked!  They brought my car in first, and I was out of there by 10:30.  And they cleaned the bathroom and mopped the floor of the waiting room again in the short time I was there.  There’s probably a lesson in that somewhere.

Anybody else find a correlation between bathroom cleanliness and service quality?

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