Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Heads or Tails #94 -- tune

Today's Heads or Tails presents a creative dilemma. Our Fearless Leader, Barb, has asked us to write about "tune." But, arguably, that has been the subject of my last two posts. Yesterday, I wrote about avoiding the news on weekends -- in other words... tuning out. Friday, I posted a video of the tune "It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion."

(Aside to Beach Bum, who noted, in a comment to Friday's post, that the song was considered "quite risqué" at the time... which it was, and is, for that matter... but you should hear some of the stuff that my Younger Daughter has on CD that she sometimes fails to remove from the family car.... No matter how suggestively the words are sung, "It Ain't the Meat" is positively innocent by comparison to some of that stuff.)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand... "tune"... having inadvertently done two recent posts arguably within the ambit of this morning's topic, how can I come up with something reasonably close to the assigned topic and not tread down either well-worn path?

I know! I'll talk about auto repairs. No, wait, Your Honor, I can tie this up....

With Older Daughter soon to be wed (we're under five weeks now) and with Older Daughter and three other nocturnals (i.e., teens and/or post-teens) in residence at the Curmudgeon Family Compound this summer, it is imperative that we keep the family van in operating condition.

Indeed, it is vital that we keep both of our remaining vehicles gassed up and ready to go at a moment's notice, that being about what a nocturnal gives us before taking one of said vehicles for one of their many purposes. The one constant of middle class American family life in the early 21st Century is that, no matter how many cars are 'in the family' at any one time, Dad can't have the use of any.

But I digress. I started talking about the family van because it recently became apparent that said vehicle was not in pristine condition. While we haven't had much of it so far this spring, we have had some warm days... and on those warm days it became unpleasantly apparent that the van's air conditioning had ceased and desisted.

Wimp! you call me... and again, wimp!... and I must stand, head bowed, before you and accept the abuse and opprobrium that you rightly heap on my head. Who needs to have a vehicle air conditioned? What about the 2-40 AC that we all grew up with (two open windows and 40 mph)?

But I plead special circumstance: Older Daughter, as I said, is soon to be wed, and she has chosen to tie the knot in the lovely community of Indianapolis, Indiana -- a good three and a half hours away from my Chicago home at non-peak travel times. (And you don't even want to think about trying the drive during peak times, such as rush hour... or anytime Friday afternoon going... or Sunday evening attempting to return....)

We will be spending considerable time, in the weeks to come, in that van. Air conditioning is more than just a luxury in these circumstances... if it is not a necessity it should at least be a stress reducer. And we can use all the stress reduction we can get right about now. (Moreover, who wants to drive through Gary with the windows open? No one does that more than once....)

I entertained fond hopes, when the complete and utter failure of the van's air conditioning was placed before me, that the oil change place might be able to recharge the coolant and solve the problem.

But alas. All the nice people at the oil change place could do was confirm my deepest, darkest suspicions, namely, that there was a leak in the system and that it would have to be taken in for repairs.

The first obstacle to be overcome in taking the van in for repairs was finding a dealer to repair it. The place where we bought the van -- in the neighborhood -- was no longer selling new cars. It apparently had jumped, or was pushed, before Chrysler pulled the plug on so many others. It's service department had been disbanded and, although a successor had allegedly been reconstituted, I was thinking that I might... should... possibly... get swindled less by, er, get a better deal from a dealer hoping to someday sell me a successor van.

To make this long story short... we found such a dealer... relatively nearby (but not within walking distance as the old dealer had been)... and $2,000 later the air conditioner works. And the van has new brakes. And it also has a new light on the dashboard going off for no apparent reason... other than to induce me to take the van back for additional, and still more costly, service.

Did I mention that this... cost... me... two... thousand... dollars? (Must... regain... control....)

I remember when even an uncoordinated lawyer such as myself could tune up his own vehicle. Of course, when we changed the oil we poured it straight down the sewer... and this was probably, in hindsight, not the best plan. But now even the most mechanically inclined among us are entirely in the thrall of auto service departments and their infernal diagnostic computers.

That's progress?


Karen said...

They don't make them the way they used to. Great post. Have a great HOT.

Tumblewords: said...

Surely makes me thankful for not needing air conditioning and having a car so old it can hardly be diagnosed. Kinda like its owner.

Barb said...

Ah but have you set up the fans in your house yet? In strategic positions? (We have.)

I do remember the times when any Joe (or Tom. or Di.. never mind) could work on a car. Not always fix it, but work on it. My ex was one of those who thought he could.

New hubby can still work on them even with the computer stuff. He has all the tools to do it too. Lots and lots and lots of tools.

Um.. we've driven through Chicago at rush hour on our way to other places and it wasn't fun. We've gone through at midnight and we didn't notice much difference.

Just so you don't waste all your creative talents.. check out next week's them ahead of time. :)

Oh.. here's you pie and cake.

Cristina said...

I remember rolling down the windows but I was young and dumb. Now, I'm all growed up and I want air conditioning! Ahem- so, I agree it's a neccesity not a luxury.
But dang if they don't always find something else, right!?