Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)
Chapter 16—Hey, Friend (with a car), Wanna Come to a Moving Party?
I was very fortunate in that I had my own car, and was not beholden to my parents to borrow theirs. Many of my friends were still in the position of relying on the kindness of others—not only for rides, but also for cars to drive. One way they remedied this was moving out of their parents’ home and into an apartment in the city, and on an awesome bus route.
I couldn’t, as of yet, afford to move out as my car was occupying most of my cash flow. However, I could afford to help my friends move, apparently. It started innocently enough, after all, friends help friends. Pretty soon, I had many more friends than I recalled ever having. I had a social life. I was going out to the movies, the bar, and to moving parties. I was everyone’s best friend, chauffeur, and moving company.
I know it may seem like I was doing this so that people would be my friend. However, in my defence, I am more nerdy than needy. I was never the kind of person to throw myself down as doormat for the sake of friends or even attention. I was the kind of person, though, who believed in good deeds, and treating good deeds as a sort of investment. It seemed to me that those individuals who were able to call in favours could do so because of previous favours or good deeds done unto others. If wealth was measured in good deeds alone, I was fast becoming a millionaire.
Wealth is not measured in good deeds. It is measured according to how much money you have at your disposal to spend freely. I was not wealthy, in fact my good deeds were doing the opposite of making me wealthy. It turns out friends don’t offer friends gas money. Or at least my friends didn’t seem to. When I started turning down offers to go out because of a lack of funds, no one offered to pay for anything. There wasn’t a single favour available to call in.
When my social life slowed down, I spent the time working on my car. Even though it was shiny new to me, it was not a new car, and thus had a steady flow of minor repair and maintenance needs. In my first eighteen months of ownership, I had already repaired the brakes, transmission, body (rust), fuel injectors, water pump, and now it seemed like, perhaps the fuel pump.
There was a mysterious rattle at random times. Some of those times the wheels weren’t moving—which summarily ruled out things like bearings and other suspension. Recent body work ruled out the possibility of loose frame work. I checked out the exhaust system, and things were okay there. I was told that fuel pump replacement was a biggish job, so I was working feverishly to determine that the rattle was anything but the fuel pump. My cash flow problems came at an opportune time. I had all kinds of time to diagnose a problem I could scarcely afford to fix.
My dad was there cheering me on. Explaining to me just how much further ahead I was for having a vehicle I could fix myself. He loved working on cars, and he loved talking about cars. It was like nirvana for him to be in proximity to a car that required steady reparative “maintenance”. For me, my basis for comparison was pretty limited. As far as I knew, and as far as my dad intimated, anybody who had cars had to deal with this—if not worse.
So it goes, I believed everybody had to replace a fuel pump, and consequently, fuel tank and lines. It was all part and parcel of owning and operating a car. The more work you did yourself, the less problems you would have down the road. My dad always said this and then was vindicated when the tire shop screwed up my front bearing whilst resealing the rims on my tires. I remember how chagrined I was—it was a tire shop that the previous owners to my car went to. If it were up to me, I would have dealt with the tire shop with the nice men who pitied me—they knew me, and they liked me there. This shop, however, were filled with what appeared to be third rate hacks. I couldn’t believe a tire shop could screw up something as simple as properly removing a tire. Neither could they—or should I say—neither did they.
I first brought my car in on my own, and spoke to the manager. His assistant manager, a woman, stood within ear shot and visibly cringed in response to her boss’s behaviour. He asked me to explain what my problem was. As I explained, his body language started to change. He went from standing, feet should width apart, and hands resting on the corner to feet together hands on hips and head tilted to one side. When I finished explaining he asked a little too incredulously for my liking, “…and you did all that all by yourself?” I raised my eyebrows and nodded. He scrunched up his face and countered“…and did you break a widdle nail?”
I sighed, tapped all ten nails on his counter looked him square in the eyes and said, “No, I know what I am doing—which is more than what has been evidenced by your technicians’ work!” At this point, the assistant manager leapt forward and intervened with some paperwork required for warranty repairs. I did not get any rebate on the bearing work—probably because I insisted on doing it myself—but I did get a new set of tires.