When it rains, it pours. Things always happen in threes. If it’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things. The car has needed attention on a couple of things for a while now. We’ve been nursing her along on a worn-out battery for some time. Yesterday, I went and bought a new Exide Orbital. These things are supposed to be the best lead-acid battery you can get currently. Apparently, the eight-year-old Optima battery that was in the car was a little out dated, as well as aged and weak. With the Optima, the starter crank of the engine had been reduced to a “Wow, wooooaaaow, wow, chug, chug, chug, bbbbbrrrrrrrr,” when we were lucky enough that it actually started on its own will. With the Orbital, it has been restored to “Ch, ch, ch, vroom!” The guy at the battery shop, Rick, tested the starter and alternator, and said that they were in exemplary condition. I’m relieved that the battery itself was all it took to correct that problem. I was pretty convinced that was all that was wrong, but the paranoia of a dying battery damaging an expensive starter and/or alternator was something that I just couldn’t shake.
The Spec-V still has a rattly exhaust because I’ve been too Scottish to pony up the $40.00 that it’s going to take to get the proprietary exhaust hanger from Nissan. An exhaust hanger should not cost $40.00. It should be a $2.00-rubber donut that you can pick up at the auto parts house. I should be able to get twenty exhaust hangers for what Nissan wants for the one – which is exactly why I dreaded the loss of the starter or alternator. I may try to jimmy-rig the exhaust hanger once more before I give up and spend the big bucks for the proper, Nissan part, as the last time I did so surprised me by lasting for over a year that way.
Yesterday, when we were on our morning commute, there was another driver that clearly had their head lodged in their rectum. They made this evident by pulling that cranial-rectalitis maneuver of whipping in front of me and going nowhere. I was ready to accelerate and pass traffic (get this) in the passing lane, and clearly they had no intention of doing so. I pushed a little harder and closed up the gap between us, so they gave me a warning tap on their brake pedal. I had not the time nor the patience for such low-brow savagery yesterday. I dropped it to third gear, whipped two lanes over and washed past, stirring the gearbox all the way. Apparently, somewhere in the robust shifting, I popped a shifter cable loose or something. At this point, it feels like the shift-gate is crooked, and wiggly. I know that sounds weird, but the gears are not quite where they are supposed to be in relation to the shifter position, and it seems to move on top of that. Sometimes I can’t put it in first and other times I can’t put it in second. When it goes into either gear, it goes in smoothly and locks positively, but the other one is a futile, uphill battle. Tomorrow, I’ll have a look at it as it feels like a bracket or something came loose under the center console. For the time being, it is little more than an annoyance, as the car has plenty of torque for the second-gear start, and the ratios are close enough to skip second if need be.
Don’t even get me started on the body work that the car needs due to being hit by an uninsured motorist on my way to jury duty. We’re trying to wait until after we’ve paid our taxes to get that one taken care of so we don’t strain under that load combined with our insurance deductible.
But, I digress…
This morning, after chugging my way to work, with the exhaust rattling, using first or second gear, but never both, I parked the car in my usual spot, facing the street. As is my habit, I locked the car up and walked toward the trunk to stand there and recompose prior to going in to work. While drinking my cheap coffee (which I don’t usually do, but sometimes – especially on Fridays), I lit up a cigarrette.
Across the street from the building where I work is a street that goes down to a really rough apartment complex. It’s a pretty regular occurrence that a handful of unmarked Crown Vics will park in the intersection, a bunch of plain-clothes cops with vests under their Hawaiian shirts will go over a battle plan, and the lot of them will speed into the apartments to beat the crap out of the meth-heads, pimps, gang-bangers, or whatever. Yeah. Nice neighborhood. The rent is cheap though, and that’s why we’re here.
Anyway, when I get to work, the kids from the apartments are standing by the stop sign, waiting for the bus. Usually, I’m putting my guns in their case when the bus comes to pick up the kids for their undoubtedly adventurous trip to school. Today, there was one child waiting for the bus with his back-pack. He appeared to be somewhere between ten and twelve. As he was standing there, waiting for the bus, I was standing across the street, smoking my cigarette. He began to yell. I ignored at first. Then, I became aware that he was yelling at me.
The Getto kid said, “Excuse me, sir!” I have to give him some points for manners in this address.
I turned my head slowly and credulously, “Yeah?” I responded.
He inquired, “Is that your last cigarette?”
I asked, “What?” thinking that I had misheard him.
“Is that your last cigarette?” he repeated himself.
“Yes,” I lied, “This is my last one.” Lord, please forgive me for telling a lie to the hood-rat.
He persisted, “Do you mind if I take a drag off of that one?”
“Yes,” I said with iron conviction and disbelief that he would actually ask such a thing, “I would mind that very much.”
No words were exchanged after that point. I was tempted to ask the kid how old he was, and point out that what he was asking me to do was to commit several criminal acts. I held my tongue and didn’t say anything. I spread the word in the office, and we joked that my tires would be slashed by the end of the day. The car is insured, and I’m not terribly worried about that. I’m not deliberately inviting vandalism, because it would be a pain in the butt to fix the car, but I’m not losing any sleep over it since I’ve got monetary coverage. The whole situation just caused one, great big ‘WTF?!?!?’ for me.