Ugly Volvo Wednesdays!

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Crazy B*tch (Memoirs of a Lemon Lover in Recovery)

Chapter 40—Preventative Maintenance? Any Day Now…

Whether you are buying copious pairs of shoes, or adhering to strict schedule of “preventative maintenance”, time flies when you are spending money. For me time mooshed together into one, long unending string of repairs. According to conventional methods of logging time, I was three human years into my relationship with the black beauty. In used car years that meant several belts; two oil changes a year; two brake jobs (first the pads, and then the rotors), new spark plugs, tires (all season and winter), water pump, and thermostat; new ball joints and struts, as well as flushes for both the coolant and transmission.

Having been trained by my dad to take meticulous care of vehicles, it seemed only logical to embark on the garage’s preventative maintenance protocol. Besides, they gave me two brochures detailing the dollar value of over all savings I could enjoy if I were to adhere to their preventative maintenance protocol of “summerizing” and “winterizing” my car. So, when most people were simply changing oil and tires with the season, I was also getting a twelve point inspection. With each inspection, came an impressive list of pending repairs on my car.

Each repair deemed necessary for safety reasons, and thus mandatory (not to mention common sense). In the last three human years of ownership, it was not uncommon for me to spend a little over a thousand dollars per preventative maintenance check. With past cars, they were old enough (and devoid of electronic/computerized sensors) for me to do much of my own work. This car however, was created on the cusp of the twenty-first century and stood in tribute to the age of technology from which it derived. All the electronic stuff was beyond both the scopes of my mentor (dad) and I. Since this was the first car that required a more expert hand, I took it to the garage, and I really had no sense of what “normal” was when it came to the prices of repairs. Therefore, I just assumed the prices I paid were normal and not exorbitant.

Well, you know what happens when you assume: you make an ass out of someone named Ume. I am sad to say, I was a bit of an Ume when it came to the whole “preventative maintenance” racket, and remained as such for quite a while. Not unlike a devout at the Wailing Wall, I would stand in front of the poster in the garage promoting the virtues of “preventative maintenance” and pray with a fanatical, teary-eyed devotion. I tried my best to hear god, or see a sign—any sign—assuring me that the car gods would deign to shine on me.

During the “winterize” I always got a free calendar for the upcoming new year. Sometimes, however, my bill was so impressive they would also throw in a complimentary Voertbroed (Swedish Christmas Bread). Similarly, when my “summerize” bills would make me a little weepy, I was offered a big fat loaf of Paeskdagen Broed (Swedish Easter Bread). Never one to be adverse to a free-be, I still couldn’t help but notice that the Swedish were not all that dynamic when it come to holiday breads. In a blinded taste test, it is doubtful that even the most sensitive palate could discern one holiday bread from the other.

Not surprisingly, after the first three years, I had a nice little stash of Swedish holiday breads in my deep freeze. I would divide them up into smaller serving sizes and just enjoy them periodically. Whenever my parents came over, I served tea and, depending on the season, either a plate of Voertbroed, or Paeskdagen Broed. They loved me dearly, and sagely nibbled on the dry stale festive treat. All the chewing helped them stay alert during my latest recount of repairs and service. It was a very dry bread, which incidentally, prohibited my dad from interrupting my tales of “preventative maintenance” delight.

He would listen intently, and nod. Sometimes a detail from my story would get him fired up and he would start choking. When that happened, my mom and I took turns offering the Heimlich. One time, a piece of ‘broed’ flew out of his mouth and chipped the decorative mirror I had hanging in my living room. My mom chided him for taking such big bites, and talking with his mouth full. My dad blushed a little and slipped a fifty dollar bill in my purse when he thought I wasn’t looking. I remember that time fondly as one of the rare times my car’s break-down actually landed me some cash in my wallet.

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