There’s something wrong with our car.
It’s a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban. We’ve had it for almost four years – long enough to make it definitively ours by all the markings, inside and out. (If you want a vivid record of a rockin’-hot series of tic-tac-toe games once played in the car, just look at the leather in the second row of seats)
Well, so this car has been pretty good to our family, and in return, we have actually maintained it – as in, oil, water, filters, and all that good stuff gets changed when it’s supposed to, unlike some previous vehicles I have owned for a while and then sold for scrap.
So we think of it as a good car, but now it’s giving us some serious problems. I could give you all the technical details – about sensors, plugs, wires, baskets, nodules, timing, fanimolds, inflectors, protruders, etc., but it misses the point. I don’t mean that there’s a mechanical malfunction. I think this is more of a spiritual thing. I think the car is possessed by left-wing anarchists.
Either that or a chicken.
The whole business started about six weeks ago with an absolute gusher of a coolant leak. Wendy got it home, and we “hired” (cajoled) two mechanically-minded young friends to repair it, which they did.
But then it wouldn’t start, until and unless I changed the spark plugs. I don’t think it actually needed new plugs, but it was feeling a little pouty. You know how you sometimes buy an ice cream for a kid after the dentist fills a cavity? Same deal.
Then it ran fine for a while . . . like, an hour. And then it wouldn’t start for anything.
Then it got on a tow truck and went to the mechanic, who repaired it with the following series of operations: he A) put in the key, and B) turned it.
Yep, that’s it: started right up. That’ll be one hundred twenty-five dollars, please!
That subversive Suburban (nice alliteration there!) worked great for another three weeks. The countdown began for the liftoff of our summer vacation/reunion trip, and it started pulling random pranks. A little cough here, a little hesitation there – like me after a bite of spicy curry that is beyond my threshold. Only I’m sure this was totally intentional.
I bought it another set of spark plugs as a bribe, and it did everything I wanted for four hours. Then back to it’s old tricks.
No, not a chicken. They’re more consistent. I think it is working with the Iranian nuclear negotiators.
The misfiring got worse and worse until we (Wendy) knew that it wasn’t safe to pull the trailer from Oregon into the burning desert of southern Utah and back.
My judgment is a little different. If five out of eight cylinders are firing, that’s 62% success! That’s only a 38% chance that the family will be sitting on the side of a remote road in 100-degree heat waiting to be rescued by a tow truck operator using the handle “bean dip bouquet”.
So we rented a mini-van, which was reasonably comfortable, and very reliable, and had a great, but short, vacation in Utah. Meanwhile the “Subver-ban” was on it’s best behavior at the mechanic’s shop, and he refused to fix a car that wasn’t broken, but was only possessed by the ghost of an anarchist Iranian chicken.
You may say, “How frustrating! These cars make themselves so indispensible to us and then seem to take on a mind of their own!” But I’ve grown through this and many other similar “character-building experiences”. They give you perspective, you know? Through this I have gained confidence: I am now more confident than ever that the machines are literally conspiring against us, like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mankind should have never entered the Machine age. Insetad we should have knocked down the door and thrown in a stun grenade and then sealed the door with a million yards of concrete.
But of course we wouldn’t have concrete, or grenades, so we would have to use potatoes.
And I wouldn’t be typing on the laptop while listening to Pandora. I would hand-write this missive and then publish it by sending it to . . . hmm. . . the Shinkle family!
Because there’s about thirty-five of them, and I would still have more followers than Wendy.