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.



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?


I’ve reluctantly come to accept that I’m a cheapskate.

I tend to make do with what I’ve got until it’s long past time the item was replaced.  When I finally do buy a new item, I’m willing to pay for the features I need, but I refuse to pay extra for non-essentials.  Like colour.  (Which probably explains why I was such a resounding failure as an interior designer, but that’s another story.)

Self-help programs point out that it’s necessary to first identify and accept that you have a problem before healing can begin.  My cheapskate epiphany came when I realized I’ve owned nothing but white cars since 1989.

I’ve disliked white cars since I was old enough to pronounce the words “I like the red one better”.

In 1989, I bought a well-used 1975 Dodge Dart for $1100, which was all I could afford at the time.  It had one of the old 225 slant-six engines you couldn’t kill with a howitzer, and I loved that car so much that I forgave it for being white.  (Plus it had sporty stripes on the sides, so it wasn’t completely white.)

When the Dart rusted away several years later, I bought a 1986 Taurus cheap at an auction because it was (again) all I could afford.  It was a piece of shit.  I spent more time repairing it than I did driving it.  And it was white.

In 1998, I’d been divorced for a couple of years and I was back on my feet.  I decided I deserved a new car.  I’d never bought a vehicle off the lot before, and it was time, dammit.  No more hand-me-downs.  No more making do.

Off I went to the Saturn dealer to buy a new car.  Any colour I wanted.  Ha!

But they offered me a deal.  They had a demo on sale.  It was brand new except for the few hundred kilometres that had been put on by the dealership’s test drives.  And they’d knock $6,000 off the price and give me an extra year’s warranty.

Yeah, you guessed it.  I’m still driving it.  It’s been a great car.

But it’s white.

Because I’m a cheapskate, my motorcycle helmet has a fiery red skull on the back, and there’s cabbage-rose-patterned furniture in my living room.  Many would consider those patterns to be mutually exclusive.  I mean, really, most people are either flaming-skull or cabbage-rose, right?

But the helmet had all these great features, and it was cheaper than the plain black one.

And really, the furniture wasn’t my fault.  My mother chose the pattern.  Back around 1973.  That furniture has survived exposure to decades of children, cats, three different households in two provinces, and nearly 40 years of direct sun, all without fading or sagging or showing any visible signs of wear and tear.  I’m pretty sure it would survive a nuclear holocaust.

It is, however, violently unfashionable.  When I said “cabbage-rose”, you thought muted pinks, didn’t you?  Wrong-o.  The background is navy blue with poison-green leaves, and the cabbage roses are blue and orange.  Big suckers, about 5” across.  That furniture is so obnoxious, it even makes my fiery skull shudder.

I don’t want to spend the money right now, but some day, I’ll buy new furniture.  Any colour I want.  Ha!

…Is there an echo in here?

Please tell me there’s somebody else out there who makes do with not-so-perfect colours for the sake of frugality (which is a much nicer way to say ‘cheapness’).

I’ve Been Married Too Long

That’s it.  My husband knows me too well.  Either I’ll have to develop an entirely new personality, or give him a good sharp rap on the head with one of our many hammers so he forgets a few of my fundamental traits.

Here’s why.

This weekend, I decided to do the spring tune-up on my car.  Swap out my snow tires for all-seasons (yes, I used my click-type torque wrench to torque the wheel nuts to spec), do an oil change, top up fluids, inspect brakes and boots and belts for wear, all that sort of thing.  And clean the car.

So I’m on my knees wielding the vacuum cleaner wand when Hubby pops his head into the garage.  The following dialogue ensues:

Him:  Oh, how nice of you to offer to vacuum my car!

Me:  Yes, startlingly nice.  In fact, unbelievably nice.  *continues vacuuming her own car*

Him:  How much do you charge?

Me:  More than you can afford.

Him:  Do you take credit?

Me:  In God we trust.  Everybody else pays cash.

I won’t bore you with the entire exchange, but in the end, I kindly offered to leave the vacuum out so it would be handy for him to vacuum his own car.  Lest you think I’m a cruel and heartless wife, I’d like to mention that I did, in fact, have a nice dinner cooking in the oven at the time.  I do try to treat him reasonably well.

Anyway, I finished up by washing my car and polishing its glass inside and out before I returned to the kitchen to finish making dinner.

The very next day, we went for a drive in his car.  About a block away from our house, he said casually, “Wow, this is the cleanest my car has been for a long time.  Except for that strip of dust on the dash I couldn’t reach.  And nobody cleaned the inside of the windshield.”

Then he leaned over and committed the most brilliantly diabolical act imaginable.  He drew his fingertip through the dust on the inside of the windshield in a criss-cross pattern right in my line of sight.

I tried.  I swear to God I tried.

I lasted for ten whole seconds before I caved.

And he looked over at me scrubbing the entire passenger side of the windshield clean, and he laughed.

I’ve been married to him for too long.