Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, June 29, 2008
      ( 6/29/2008 07:04:00 AM ) Bill S.  

CAR TROUBLE: Let me preface this post by noting that nothing can put me in a state of pure frothing pissedness more than having difficulties with the automobile. I'm not much of a car buff - I basically look to our vehicle to get us around and blast some tunes on the radio/CD player. For past few years our car of choice has been a silver PT Cruiser, and we've, by and large, been happy with it. It helped to get my wife Becky, our cats and a dog from Illinois to Arizona without incident - for which I'm grateful.

Recently, our Chrysler chariot reached the 100,000-mile mark (adios to the extended service warranty!), and small glitches have begun popping up. The cruise control started going wonky, and the passenger rear tire developed a slow leak. Last week, I got into the car to prepare to drive to work, and the damn thing died as soon as I started it. Second time I tried, it wouldn't even click. Tried all the usual dummy tactics (e.g., jumper cables) but ultimately had to get it towed into town and spend the morning anxiously waiting for the diagnosis from Hatch Brothers' service center. Turned out the car's anti-theft device had gone bad, and we had to wait through the weekend before the part (an immobilizer module) came in to be replaced. Fortunately, our neighbor had a barely used beater we could borrow to get groceries.

Monday, we were able to pick up the car, and Becky did a few errands with it while I went into the office. After we returned home, we realized that we'd forgotten to refill our water bottles - which had been sitting in the back of the car since the breakdown. Since bottled water is a necessity in rural Arizona, I headed back out to the car to drive to Jobi's, the gas station with the nearest water dispenser. I put my keys in the ignition, and it was a repeat of what had happened to me the first time: start-up, death, than an adamant refusal to start up again. "Shit," I thought, "they didn't fix the damn car, after all!" It was after closing time, so I spent the night fuming, wondering how much more this was gonna cost us.

Next Tuesday a.m., I woke early and agitated - and then it belatedly struck me. Becky was able to get the Cruiser started several times yesterday. Perhaps there was something wrong with my key? Still in my robe, I grabbed her keys from her purse and took 'em out to the car. Insert into ignition: the car started without incident. When the service center put in the new anti-theft device, they'd re-keyed the chip in Becky key, but didn't think to do this to mine when we came in to pick up the car.

I was pissed at the service center technicians, of course, but so relieved to actually have the car work for me that I couldn't make too much of a bit deal of it. That morning, I drove into town to get my key retooled and headed off into the workday. The car was running again; all was once more right with the world. At least until Thursday when that slow back tire leak turned into a fast 'un . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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