I've noticed when I drive through my neighborhood, people stop to gaze at me, like I'm British royalty.
Just as I'm figuring that I'm kind of a big deal around here, I turn down my Kajagoogoo CD and hear what sounds like South Pacific tribesmen under my hood, beating on a hollow log with large sticks. In double time.
There's something wrong with my car. Besides the noise, it won't accelerate. After spending nine days taking my car apart, a friend who's a mechanic tells me that this is due to a tiny sensor in my accelerator that isn't working.
The part costs a couple hundred bucks, which isn't too burdensome for us British royals. But the labor. ... I'm hesitant to ask this friend to spend a large chunk of his remaining 40 or 50 years of life working on my car for free.
An ensuing investigation found that installing this sensor at a dealership will cost at least $1,500, which I'm sure will balloon into an even larger bill once they hear the little men under my hood (I've been hearing it for a couple of months, but I'm positive any mechanic will say my car will explode in three minutes if I don't get it fixed it right away). I usually try to avoid dealerships, because I'm not Bill Gates, but I've heard that this problem would be best handled there.
Gotta get it fixed
Having a broken car can be a little like having a bum knee. You have to get it fixed at some point, because
The situation prompts a couple of questions: One, if we pay for "car insurance," why doesn't it pay for car repairs like health insurance pays for human repairs?
And two: If technology is making our lives easier, why does it seem more difficult and expensive to get cars fixed than ever before?
The worst part is that they have us over a barrel. Most mechanics are like doctors. They have extensive knowledge about something we need but can't comprehend without having a second brain.
Tech is tricky
From what I understand -- which isn't much -- newer cars now have more sophisticated computers, and that makes it more difficult to repair them in someone's garage without a highly trained, well-paid person in coveralls acting like you've asked them to turn your car into a space shuttle.
This is progress: stuff that is more complicated and harder to fix. When things are harder to fix, one must pay more for highly trained people to fix them. Even my mechanic friend -- who could build and launch a satellite if he had three extra hours some weekend -- needs help from the professionals.
Meanwhile, the little tribesmen are beating the log faster every day. People can hear me coming from a half-mile away. Children are beginning to point and laugh. Dogs are howling. I have to get this problem solved.
And then I think I'm going back to school to become an auto mechanic.