Monday, October 13, 2008

Well, that wasn't what I expected...

So, in no certain or discernible order...
My truck has been acting up for the last few weeks. For a brief, terrifying moment I thought it was the transmission, which would have been a few thousand dollars to fix. It turns out that I had a misfiring cylinder caused by the fact that the people I took the truck to to get my 120,000 mile service did not replace the spark plugs, as per the manufacturer' suggestion. They did not charge me for it either, but in my ignorance of necessary part replacement I did not realize that this was a problem, and never thought to check that they did what they were supposed to (but it is because of things like this that I have stopped going to this particular auto care center). So I bought some spark plugs, and set out to change them, therefore making my vehicle whole again.
It turns out you have to be either touched by the Hand of God, or a certified ASE mechanic in order to get to the spark plugs, let alone change them. So I had to take my truck into a shop to have them do it. At a net extra cost of $82 for labor. But that is the hand I was dealt, so there we go.
Now this becomes a bit of a problem because I had two different friends who needed help moving this weekend and I told both of them that, vehicle permitting, I would be there. I told them this when I thought that I would take an hour or two on Saturday morning, pop open the hood of my truck, and spend some time getting some good old-fashioned grime under my fingernails. Once I took the vehicle to the service station I was told "we might be able to get to it today, we will definitely have it done by tomorrow". And it isn't like I had a whole lot of options, the work HAD to be done and taking it somewhere else as a walk-in on a Saturday afternoon wouldn't get it done any quicker. So I bit the bullet and left it there. I figured that the shop was directly up the main thoroughfare from the house, easily navigated by taking the 15 bus to within a few blocks of the house (Larry the Upstairs Neighbor was off camping and unavailable for shuttling). What I did NOT plan on, however, was the fact that ALL the buses running through the city that went anywhere in the vicinity of downtown were all flummoxed by the Baltimore Marathon. So after waiting for almost 90 minutes (not an exaggeration), I started to walk. And as I was passing the off ramps for the Beltway, almost exactly in the middle of two bus stops, I look back and see the bus finally heading my way. I wave at it, but all I see is the sadistic smile of a driver that is not paid commission or tips and therefore does not give a rat's ass about my predicament.

I have bad feet and legs (long time readers know all about this). Because I had not given any thought to my choice of footwear when I was

  1. Working on the truck myself, or
  2. Driving it to the repair shop

I did not put on shoes that were conducive to walking. After about a mile my feet hurt to the point of not really wanting to keep them anymore. I went into the local High's store and got a cold lemonade (they were out of ice in the soda machine. It was quickly turning into THAT kind of day). I grabbed my cell phone and started to call a cab (yup, I was ready to be gouged in order to get home before I cut my feet off like a wolf in a steel trap). I was on hold, listening to JACK-FM for about 10 minutes when I said "screw it" and hung up. I found another bus stop about 100 feet away and limped over there and sat in the shade of a lovely tree and drank some lemonade. I figured that the buses were running every 90-120 minutes and I was just going to wait it out.

Of course, I did have to pee like a racehorse...

I called Wifey to update her on my own, self inflicted Bataan Death March and the early termination of my Ghandi-esque day when the bus came along, shining in all of its diesel fueled glory. I got home in about 20 minutes.

So the Saturday move was shot. I waited in vain for the repair shop to call me Saturday to at least let me know if I was going to be able to go to work Sunday afternoon, but never heard back from them. Wifey emailed the Sunday move and let them know of our predicament. Finally, they called me. Sunday morning. At 9:30. They were just getting to it, but did I also want to get the engine / fuel cleaning, usually $149.99 on sale this week for $89.99?

No thanks, just go for the plugs and let's move on.

The car is done, Larry (who came home a day early from the camping trip for reasons that I will let him reveal in the comments section if it pleases him to do so) gives me a ride up there and I get my truck back. At last, I feel whole again.

So of course the check engine light comes back on while driving home last night, and I still feel some hesitation when accelerating / driving at highway speed. I am going to take it to a DIFFERENT shop and see what happens. One recommended by AAA (and that apparently gives a 25% discount to first time customers who have AAA with presentation of the card, no coupon needed. HUZZAH!

Why did I tell you ALL OF THIS? Because it resulted in me doing something that has made me feel a little conflicted.

I mentioned how bad my feet were hurting, and that they are not in the best of conditions to begin with. Because I wear the old man socks (compression stockings), they don't get a lot of air / sun. And they calluses on my soles are reaching sovereign nation status. Wifey has been after me for a long time to soak my feet and do all that pampering stuff that just goes against my DNA. But after the day I had, I broke down and asked Wifey to set me up for a soakin'.

It took a couple of hours (I tried to balance out the situation by drinking canned domestic beer and watching college football, but it still felt weird to have my tootsies soaking in warm to hot water with Epsom salts and God only knows what else she puts in there to make her feet feel so luxurious. She handed me a "pumice stone" for to wear down the calluses every so often, as the water made them soft enough to wear down. I am pretty sure that my shoe size went down by a whole half step by the time I was done. And then I had to rub Vitamin E oil all over them (which almost went too far for me). And what was the end result?

The next morning I looked at my feet and they actually looked like HUMAN feet for the first time in years. By that I mean that before this past Saturday, if you had happened to look down and see my feet without the old man socks, you would have probably thought they were a combination of Fred Flintstone and Frodo's feet. But combine the fact that I couldn't change my own damn spark plugs (and after all of that the problem is not all the way solved) with the fact that I spent a couple of hours (ON A SATURDAY NIGHT no less) soaking my feet and "pumicing the calluses away", and you have yourself one highly conflicted guy. I am by no means a "metrosexual" (do they still use that term? I know Mike and Mike were awfully fond of the term back in the day, but I don't listen to them regularly, and also I am not relying on them to be the arbiters of popular slang), but I might have moved a few miles from the city towards the metro / suburban area.

So at least I moved SOMEONE this weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Your post? Hysterical. Fantastic. Absolutely loved it.

    Changing spark plugs can be a pain in the butt, but it doesn't have to be. (Ok, some vehicles ARE harder than others...) Next time you need to do a change or replace, check out this video from Autolite and see if it helps: